Quote of the Day:
“It’s great to be here at the….what is this? Natchez balloon fair midway? (derisive chuckle) Can somebody get a deep fried Snickers to the stage?” —lead singer of the Gin Blossoms, ol’ whatshisname
As TB was sayin’, this just in, Gin Blossom dude……your little band has a few decent tunes, good enough for us to come hear ’em and to remind us of the early 90’s and our wasted youth, but not even on the radar of making our top 5000 ipod-worthy tunes, so don’t be mockin’ me and mine when we come out to help you make a little Raman Noodle money amidst your free-fall to obscurity. We clear?
TB and the gang get out to see live tunage just about any time its feasible. Occasionally we see a great band in its prime, but being that we live somewhat off the big venue path, we are a lot more likely to see performers whose moment in the limelight is behind them. The bands who have tasted arena-tours and are now relegated to the bar and festival scene handle things in two ways–some just dig playin’ their tunes and continue to belt it out and soak up the joy from the crowd and others, like the Gin Blossoms are bitter, believing they deserve better, are misunderstood and too good for the small market peons.
In just the last few years I’ve seen guys like Elvis Costello and Delbert McClinton just air it out. I saw Stone Temple Pilots with MD in Chicago blow the windows out of nearby buildings playing tunes made famous around the same time as the Gin Blossoms were enjoying their moment. I’ve seen hipster icon Ben Folds play to a Sunday crowd in a backwater town treat the fans like we were in on the joke with him, rather than the butt of it. Dudes that love to play, that make you love to hear their stuff even more after the show than you did before. Bands that will keep making solid cash for years to come because they respect the people who put that cash in their pockets.
And then I saw the Gin Blossoms in Natchez. At the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, by the way, with about ten thousand people present, a helluva lot more than what they normally draw I’m fairly certain. Well, that’s how many were there at first. Each time the band made an insulting/pseudo-clever remark, a couple hundred peeled away and each time they tried to force feed us two crummy “new” tunes in a row they lost even more.
“Hey doesn’t anybody in this town know how to get the lights right?” “Will somebody please fix the sound!” Sorry dude, you looked and sounded bad, but the lights and mics were fine.
“We just came here to chew gum and kick ass, and we’re all out of gum (band snickers).” Really? Ten thousand people blank stared him for that one.
“What, did they run out of wine coolers or something?” No dude, we’re not rockin’ out because we came to hear “Hey Jealousy”, not those last three ballads you wrote on the bus, err, in the van last week.
Let me give you some professional advice Gin Blossoms and all you other bands on the way back down. There’s a lot of career yet to live if you do it right. The festivals ain’t so bad. I’ve got Delbert and Elvis and Ben and STP on my Ipod, put more songs on in fact after I saw ’em. Embrace your hits. Play the biggest ones for ten minutes or more in concert–you can always mix it up by throwin’ a little “Mustang Sally” after the guitar solo and before the fifth repetition of the chorus. I guarantee you that’ll keep us dancin’, wine coolers or not. Thank the people–you don’t even have to mean it, but if you can convince yourself you really do mean it, we’ll feel it. And don’t convince yourself we’re too damn stupid to miss the veiled insults between songs. I’ll follow you down, after all, but not that far.