I find it amazing how much variance can exist in the quality of a live musical performance from one concert to the next.
Last week, Katie and I went to see Sara Bareilles (for the third time in the last year) at the House of Blues in Chicago. Gotta tell ya, we weren't that impressed. It was no fault of Sara's that I can tell, to be fair. It was the House of Blues and a majority of the audience in attendance.
Sure, the House of Blues is a quaint little place with some pretty cool decor and whatnot. But the acoustics in the place suck, horribly. Because we got there a little late, we weren't able to get too close to the pit area (an area of recessed flooring surrounded by the stage in front, a bar on either side, and the sound and lighting engineer's booth in back. The only spots we could find were against the railing in front of the largest bar tucked behind the engineer's booth. This, of course, did Katie no good at all. Regardless of where she stood, at 5'2", she could see nothing at all. And people kept piling in front of us with no regard whatsoever for anyone else around them. Tack on top of this the fact that all sound was deflected away from us due to the poor acoustics and much larger people in front of her, and she could barely hear anything either.
Oh yeah, did I mention that all the people around us were clearly Top 40 fans only? How do I know? They did nothing but talk and cackle and drink and chat on their cellphones and be general nuisances the entire night, until Sara performed "Love Song." Then they all either shut up or sang along in their loud, pathetically out-of-tune voices, thus ruining that song as well.
But, get this, as soon as Sara finished that song, they started filing out. I counted a good 100+ who left immediately after that song was done, and we were only at the 2/3 mark for the show.
The good thing about this happening was that Katie was able to move down into the pit area finally and discovered that was where the true fans were. They were either just listening or singing along at a respectful tone, paying attention to the stage and performers and even to those around them.
While the night ended better than it began, I gotta say that the show wasn't quite worth the cost of the tickets. Sure, they were only $15 each, but after fuckin' Ticketmaster tacked on their charges and service fees and convenience costs, it was about $67 for the two of us to attend the show. Never mind parking and gas costs.
Yeah, it's going to take a lot to convince us to head into the city for another show again.
Please note, though, I really don't want this "review" to drive people away from seeing Sara Bareilles live. She's a fantastic artist with a great voice who just got stuck in a lousy venue with a ton of Johnny-come-lately fans. If you are into her music, by all means see her live. But take into consideration the venue where you will be seeing the show and plan accordingly.
If there was one good thing to come of the night, I found a bunch of House of Blues iTunes cards sitting around. The cards grant you $30 in free (albeit pre-chosen) music they describe as "A special collection of songs from today's hottest club artists." After distributing a few of them to some people I know, I have six cards left. The first people to actually request it in a comment (not e-mail) will find themselves the recipients of free tunage. Have at it, folks.
Check that, I just entered the code for my card, and it's giving me back 31 songs. Bonus. Guess this makes up for the 40th anniversary Rolling Stone magazine free song code that was supposed to give me 40 songs and only gave me 39.
Oh, and obviously, don't go requesting the code if you are not an iTunes user. That would just be a stupid waste of a redemption code.