Friday, October 03, 2003

HEAD IN THE BOWL: No Rock Bay Area Correspondent Becky 'in these shoes?' Bamboo files from the Radiohead in SF and LA shows:

It used to be that all I knew were big stadium shows. I thought that was the way things were and you just had to accept that you could never get closer than a football field from your musical idols. Then I moved to the Bay Area, stopped giving a fuck about what people would think of me going solo to gigs, and realized that that fourth wall is pretty much non-existant when you're two inches from being kicked in the face when the bass player jumps up. Shows became personal moments rather than events shared with half the university students in a 100 mile radius.

All the things that typically annoy me at shows become magnified when sitting on the cold, hard dirt waiting for the giant screen above the stage to cut to a shot of the guitarist. There are few bands for whom I would endure this. Radiohead is one such band. But even I have my breaking point.

I attended two Radiohead shows last week, one at Shoreline in Mountain View and one at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The Bay Area concert was a typical Shoreline show: people talking through songs, singing loudly and off-key, with the tallest guys in the world standing right in front of me. All things I've come to know and accept as the price you pay at an ampitheater. The band was on, the light show was fantastic, the audience was enthusiastic, and I came away with a crick in my neck.

Then came the Hollywood Bowl. As I stood there, trying to shut out the singing, the incessant, inane chatter, and the hysterical screams, it hit me that I've lost them. I've lost Radiohead. I've lost them to the boozy frat guys and their date rape girlfriends. I've lost them to the perfect blonds with their shiny, shiny hair. I've lost them to people who don't realize when they're being insulted (a lyric change in "Creep" from "I want a perfect body, I want a perfect soul" to "I want a perfect body, so I can look good next to you." And the crowd *cheered* the line. Apparently irony has no place in Hollywood). They're not mine anymore. Yes, I know they never were. I've seen them playing the MTV Beach House, for crying out loud. But somehow, it always felt like they were. They belonged to the outsiders, the intellectuals, the freaks. They belonged to me. Maybe it was the summer of 1993 when Jaeson and I bonded over "Creep" that made me believe that. Or maybe it was that long solitary summer of 1997 when I knew no one and was living in a strange place with only The Bends, OK Computer, and the films of Al Pacino to keep me company. Whatever it was, they were mine. But I can't believe that any longer.

I don't know how many of you have had a similar moment, but it hurts. I could barely keep myself from sitting down and sobbing. I know I tend to take things way too seriously. And that the things to which I become attached are often viewed as banal or frivolous to most other people. And I know I should shrug this off as an insight I really should've seen from the beginning or as unimportant, but... it hurt. It still hurts. I really need to stop going to shows at the Hollywood Bowl. I always come out of there disillusioned.

Ah, enough. Maybe tomorrow I'll be cheery enough to write up Stellastarr*, The Ravonettes, Rhett Miller, Evan Dando, Scott Miller... Good lord, I need a nap.

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