Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Steely Dan! An unruly crowd!

I grew up on The Dan...

Being raised on the sweet vinyl sounds of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker helped shape my love of music--their playful, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and adept musicianship always made each listen full of discovery.

So I was thrilled to take advantage of a last-minute 2-for-1 ticket offer from Live Nation allowing me to catch the band at the Gibson Amphitheater (which, funny enough, isn't outdoors) last night. The band: FANTASTIC.

The crowd: NOT SO MUCH.

Here are my thoughts on BOTH the show, and the people around me. First, the Dan:

After three previous stints playing through albums Aja, Gaucho and The Royal Scam, their final night was "Takin' It To the Seats Internet Request Night." The entire set list was put together from fan votes on their website, resulting in a killer mix of greatest hits and seldom-played album tracks. The set list consisted of (from memory, vaguely in order):

Black Friday
Aja
Hey Nineteen
Peg
Bodhisattva
Home At Last
Dirty Work
Black Cow
Any Major Dude Will Tell You
Babylon Sisters
Dr. Wu
Josie
Rikki Don't Lose That Number
Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More
Do It Again
Don't Take Me Alive
Kid Charlemagne
Reelin' In The Years

Becker and Fagen surrounded themselves with great musicians--a great brass section, a tight drummer, keys, three female background singers, and several guitarists (including special guest Larry Carlton, who played on many of their early albums). While Fagen's voice may be thinning (his vocals were mixed a little lower than they used to be), he was still more than up to the task, floating playfully through their strong catalog. Becker would chime in occasionally, with an extended goofy riff on Los Angeles excess during an instrumental section of Hey Nineteen, and taking lead vocals on Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More. Larry Carlton showed off his skills, blasting through those memorable guitar solos on Kid Charlemagne and Reelin' In The Years. The trio of talented women traded lead vocals on Dirty Work, a song originally sung by Can't Buy A Thrill vocalist David Palmer (and one of my favorite Dan songs, a thrill to hear live). It was nice to hear Rikki live, as that song had long since dropped out of their live repertoire due to them playing it a bajillion times early in their career. The simple, effective melody of Any Major Dude Will Tell soared as the band jammed on the coda, a standout track from the album Pretzel Logic. Fagen gave props to his fine band, pointing out the soloists after most songs. It's amazing that the band is still touring after all these years, and putting on a fine show.

Now onto the crowd...

Unfortunately, we were surrounded by people that couldn't enjoy the show without pushing the buttons of all those sitting around them. I assure you, it wasn't just me, as several patrons complained to ushers of a handful of concert-goers nearby. In order for you to understand, here's an approximation of what they looked like, and their behavior. Let's start with...

THE DRUNKEN GUY WHO INSISTED SEVERAL SONGS ON THE SET LIST WERE "BECAUSE OF ME!"
A power-mulleted, mustached guy in a teal tank top was sitting directly in front of me. It was as if there was a Zamboni someplace without a driver. Despite the fact that the set list had been decided online two weeks ago, he kept shouting out "RIKKI! BECKER BECKER PLAY RIKKI!" at the top of his lungs. When they played it, throughout the songs he kept yelling "THIS ONE IS MINE!" and screaming the wrong lyrics early. He also claimed Do It Again was his pick. After going to the bathroom, he stood in the aisle and could not figure out where his seat was for about four songs.

THE STONED FAT DRUNKEN BRONX IDIOT
In the backrow (two back from me), this guy who SERIOUSLY looks like Carl from Aqua Teen was constantly smoking pot (which mixed weirdly with a strong Old Spice smell nearby). He kept screaming from the top of his lungs "FORGEDDABOUTIT!" after a song would start and would vocalize the guitar and rhythm part. Despite an usher busting him mid-toke, he kept up his screaming until his voice finally gave out on him towards the end of the show. It was as if he was at a Yankees game...

THE FIGHTING COUPLE THAT LOOK LIKE A PORTLY VERSION OF THE KEATONS
Sitting off to our left, a couple constantly bickered. She would snuggle up to him and he would push her away. She kept getting phone calls AND ANSWERING THEM. She was constantly pouting about something. And as an added bonus, he was always incorrectly identifying songs (my favorite: when Dr. Wu started, he decided it was "Katy Lied from the album Pretzel Logic," which are both albums).


THE NICE YOUNG BLOGGER WHO JUST WANTED TO HEAR THE MUSIC
Is that so much to ask?

5 comments:

  1. Wow, I was there, too! ...and there was this guy sitting next to me (who oddly looked a lot you) and all he did was take mental notes and sneer at everyone around us. What a weirdo.

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  2. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Betty

    http://electricguitarhowtoplay.net

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  3. Okay. So, first of all, it's FAGEN. You musta read too much Oliver Twist as a boy. Even The Onion got it right, for cryin' out loud.

    http://www.theonion.com/content/news/donald_fagen_defends_steely_dan_to

    Second, I think this same crowd attended my one and only James Taylor concert, at the then-Universal Indoor Amphitheatre. Drunk dude RIGHT next to me screamed JAAAY-TEEEEEEEE! all night long, and sang every song, while elbowing me.

    I feel your pain. It's a bummer to have the crowd practically wreck the show. My main memory of the JT show is the crowd, and not Sweet Baby James.

    Any major dude will tell you.

    xoxo,
    Katie Lied

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  4. Wow. Can't believe I misspelled Fagen's name. I've typed it a bajillion times, guess I was just in Artful Dodger mode. CORRECTED!

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  5. nice read. love the dan too.

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