LIVE IN A HIDING PLACE
I so did not have a good time tonight.
Concert #4 was Idlewild and The French Kicks at Lola’s, downstairs from the Crystal Ballroom.
I tried to arrive late. There was a local opening band who I have never heard and really, I’d like to keep it that way. So I got there an hour after the time on the ticket. There was a mob outside. Turns out Super Diamond was playing at the Crystal, the upstairs room. They are a band who do covers of stuff like Nirvana in a Neil Diamond-style. Yeah, I know. That joke was old by the time the first guy to think of it turned around to tell someone else about it, but the hoi polloi line up around the block for that shit. It makes me sad that a good band like Idlewild has to play the small room while crap like Super Diamond fills the main one. I pity the Idlewild fans who had to stand in line with the Diamond fans, getting that condescending, “Never heard of them,” because, you know, if sorority chicks and bored housewives haven’t heard of a band, they must suck.
I slogged my way inside, finding the shorter line at the side entrance. It was a pain in the ass trying to get around the moron partyboys who got confused that there were two shows in one building and stood in the doorway to the one I was going to, scratching their heads rather than get out of the way. “You mean Super Diamond isn’t in there? Then where are they? Do you think my baseball cap should be frontwards or backwards?” I vote sidewards, Spanky!
The atmosphere in Lola’s was instantly bad. Hot and sweaty and full of smoke. The French Kicks were on, and I have to say, I couldn’t come up with a negative number low enough to describe how deep in a black hole my enjoyment of them was. You can’t create a number to describe how many times you’d have to circle around the Earth to travel the distance between myself and aural pleasure during their set. There are not words to indicate how truly awful they were. There was nothing, zero, absolutely nada good about The French Kicks. I know they might be hip, but I’d have to work hard not to punch anyone in the face that liked them. Seriously. The songs were flat and tuneless, and the singer could barely vocalize a straight line. Sometimes he’d get all twitchy like he was getting excited, but he’d keep singing in the same way, swerving to avoid any melody or emotion. They didn’t even have a sense of fashion going for them. There wasn’t a single band member with good hair or a nice shirt.
Seriously, the French Kicks are one of the top three worst bands I have ever seen. (One other is Paradigm Driven. The name says it all. I once declared them the worst band in Portland in the Mercury. The other slot might be Stew, who I saw open for Love, or Cooler Kids, who opened for Erasure.)
On the other hand, I caught Idlewild’s show a couple of years ago and I adored it; so I was pretty excited for them. I had gotten through a shit opening band, and I was ready to go. I had scoped out a pretty good spot by the windows that was relatively near the stage. It had a decent eye line so that I could see the band when they came on. Only problem was, the monitor I was near kept going in and out, so for the first couple of songs, the levels kept fluctuating. I couldn’t stand it, so I moved closer to the back and it was better. I could at least hear the song at the same volume and mix through the whole song.
Only now I couldn’t see. The stage is like a foot high, which is just stupid. You don’t get any difference between the band and the audience, and all I could see were other people’s heads and Roddy Woomble occasionally emerging in the midst of them. It seemed there was always someone in front of me who kept swaying or had big hair. And I don’t mind big hair, as long as it’s big because you wanted it to be big, not because you’re too lazy to brush it or get it cut.
There also seemed to be a staggering amount of people there who were older than even me. I swear there was one guy with a polo shirt tucked into his shorts playing air guitar. No lie.
A girl behind me was probably more into the show than anyone there, including the band, and as a result, she was dancing her ass off. Only problem is, at that place, there is no way to actually dance and mind someone’s personal space. You don’t even have to touch another person to invade their area. Both rooms in the venue have a spring-loaded dance floor, so some chick jumping around like a retard with a firecracker up her ass ends up sending tremors all over the place. Even worse, she was one of those people that doesn’t actually dance to the music. Rhythm and beat are foreign ideas, and they don’t inspire her feet. Ironically, she seemed to get wilder during the slowest song they played, which didn’t even have drums outside of the chorus. Was she moving in conjunction with the strumming?
Needless to say, I was spending more time being annoyed by the shitty sound and layout of the room and the people around me then enjoying the show—which is a massive disappointment. I was too busy suppressing violent urges, and just couldn’t shut off and dig the music. I held out, though, for my favorite song, “Roseability.” Idlewild played it at the end of the set—but, God, was it awful. It was so sloppy, I got the impression they are just bored with it and couldn’t care less.
I left before the encore. I just couldn’t take anymore. I did get a bit of pleasure, though, on the way home, when I had to stop at a light near where an old busker was wailing his lungs out. I rolled down the window and cranked The Animals as far as my radio would go. Score one for my ears.
This is all making me reconsider going to see Mark Gardener in a week’s time. It’s at another small club, and I know there will be people there I don’t want to associate with. Not having a concert buddy for protection can really suck. Maybe Christopher will choose next weekend as his time to visit?
Current Soundtrack: Faye Wong, some thing or other (it's impossible to tell some of these Chinese compilations apart); Richard Ashcroft, "Science of Silence"