Tuesday, March 31, 2009

jammed out

For about 20 years now, the Allman Brothers have taken up residence at the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side, where they play every few nights throughout the month of March. This year was their 40th anniversary as a band, and since I’ve never actually seen them live, I convinced Crissy to come with me to their final show on Saturday night.

Can I be perfectly honest about something here? It was a little disappointing. I don’t know. I guess I expected something less…hokey.

The problem with seeing your classic rock heroes in concert is that you forget they’re not the same 22 year old guys you’ve listened to over and over (and over) again on the albums that were recorded in 1971. Most of the band has been replaced by a slew of graying studio percussionists just oozing new age spirituality, wearing Africa beanies and bad tie-dye (oops, I think bad tie-dye is redundant). I know you know what I’m talking about. These guys are really, really good at their instruments. They’re just not the guys I came to see.

As for the actual band members, they still completely rock. But maybe it’s because our seats weren’t great (yet really, really expensive). Maybe it’s because I didn’t hear any of the songs I wanted to hear. Or maybe…just maybe…I just don’t have the patience for jam bands any more.

Look, I play guitar. I bow down to guitar gods in a big way. I can geek out with the best of them on a scorching 5-minute guitar solo. Or even a white-hot 10-minute solo. But it’s the 34-minute Mountain Jams that make me sigh and shift my weight and start to notice the doughy, balding, middle manager flailing wildly in front of me with his Woodstock ‘94 concert t-shirt, sweatshirt tied around his waist, and blackened bare feet on the sticky floor.

I know I know. I’m a total asshole for noticing these things and saying them out loud. But it’s just that I still think of these bands as SO COOL. And I really want to keep thinking of them that way.

But thanks to the jumbo screen with the blow-your-12-year-old-mind psychedelica and the Microsoft screensaver-quality animation, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching the opening act for the Wiggles at the Arkansas County Fair.

Forgive me, guitar gods. Please, forgive me.

p.s. Crissy took this picture of this dude's braided leather belt. So I'm not the only asshole to notice, okay?

No comments: