Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crosses 3/28/12 at The Satellite - Los Angeles, CA

Going to concerts has been one of my favorite things to do since I started going to local shows around 1999 or so.  However, I haven’t been making good on this for the last few years due to either lack of funds, lack of interesting active bands (to be read as:  The Paper Chase disbanding), or just blatant laziness.  So when I finally convince myself to buy a concert ticket, I’m pretty excited.

Tonight I had the pleasure of watching a band called Crosses.  I consider myself lucky and can thank the fact that I now live in Los Angeles for this opportunity.  Crosses is the side project for Chino Moreno (Deftones) and Shaun Lopez (Far) so they were able to garner immediate interest without playing a single show.  About a half year after their first release (which can be legally downloaded for free right here) they finally put together a live band and started playing shows.  However, they aren’t really “on tour” since they aren’t packing into a van/bus and carting themselves from city to city on a string of shows.  Besides a week-long run at the start of February, they just kind of pop up here and there.  Currently, their only advertised shows are in Argentina and Chile.  So you can imagine my excitement when I received an e-mail last week informing me that they would be playing tonight at a place that is 3.5 miles from my house.  It came out of nowhere and I purchased my ticket immediately.

I was unable to find someone to accompany me to the show, so I went by myself.  This is something I’ve done before, but not for a long time.  Once the music starts, it really doesn’t matter who you went to the venue with since you can’t hear a damn thing.  It’s nice to have someone there to nudge and point out something kick ass happening, but it’s not essential.  The good part of having someone with you is to fill the time between bands.  I debated on bringing a book with me to fill the awkwardness between acts, but I also thought reading a book would be equally as awkward so I left it at home.  I came to regret this decision as soon as I walked up to the door and saw that the band wouldn’t be playing for two hours.  How would the time be filled?  With a DJ.  Great.  No opening bands, just people standing around

I walked inside, ordered a beer, and began the cycle that I would run for the following two hours:  Sit at the bar upstairs until I felt like I was pissing off the bartender because I was blocking others from buying drinks, walk down to the merch table and study the two shirts they had for sale, walk into the stage area and watch the lights from the disco ball circle the floor.  Repeat.  I tried not to look like a lurker by constantly checking my phone and hoping there was a new text message to read and put some serious thought into the response.  I had time to kill, might as well convey my thoughts thoroughly.

I made it through the DJ set, which actually ended up being kind of interesting because the guy played a lot of Prince.  I’ve made it 27 years without really listening to Prince, which kind of feels like a strange accomplishment, but I think that might change.  There were some pretty cool songs that may warrant further inspection.  But that’s another topic altogether.

The lights went down, the three crosses that hung behind the drumsets (yeah, plural) lit up, and people started screaming maniacally.  Chino Moreno is a giant “rock star” no matter where you are as he’s toured the world about eighty times (or more) throughout his long career with the Deftones.  But he’s from Sacramento and is viewed as a bit of a God around southern California.  To be able to see him in such a small, intimate setting is a gift and this was not lost on the crowd around me.

Before the band even came out, however, I noticed something that would plague me for the rest of the night.  Smartphones were everywhere.  And I’m not just saying that a lot of people had them, because that’s obvious.  They’re everywhere these days and I kind of feel like a dinosaur flipping open my phone that can barely take a picture worth looking at.  I’m talking about the physical phone being right in my face.  People taking pictures and video.  Everywhere.  I understood that it would be cool to get a shot of the band coming out or simply to get a picture of the stage setup because it looked pretty cool.  I thought maybe after the first song started the phones would return to their rightful place within pockets.  But I was wrong.  The guy standing next to me videotaped (is that even the right word to use now?  There’s no “tape” involved anymore and it’s digital, not video.  I guess I should just say, “recorded”) the whole set.  He watched the whole show through the lens of his phone.  And he wasn’t the only one.  At any given time there were at least ten phones in the air, often much more than that.

This blew my mind and distracted me most of the show.  With the advent of social media and the technology that came with it, it seems we’ve lost the ability to (I know this sounds cliché but it’s right) live in the moment.  Maybe I should use a different phrase.  Enjoy what’s happening in real-time?  Yeah, that works.  We watch so many of other people’s memories through outlets such as youtube that we become addicted to it and preclude ourselves from making our own.  This guy was so focused on documenting the whole night to share with others that he neglected to enjoy what was happening.  We’ve become dependent on sharing our experiences and I really think it has taken away the simple, visceral means of enjoying our experiences.  I can’t say that I’m not guilty of this myself; I was lost in my head for most of the show mentally arranging an outline of how I would relate this experience on here. 

I tried to explain this to a friend awhile ago, and am still not sure that this isn’t unique to me.  I often don’t pay attention to what’s happening around me.  I mean pay close attention.  I’m usually thinking of something else or taking things in in a superficial sense, like skimming over an article in the newspaper just to get the main bullet points.  Once in a while it will dawn on me that this is happening and I’ll stop and look around me, paying close attention to everything around me.  It’s like putting on 3-D glasses.  Instead of glossing over my surroundings I pay attention to the details and depth of the objects which makes them look like more than a backdrop.  It’s kind of hard to explain, but I think this is a result of cable TV and the internet.  We always want something more than what is in front of us because we have access to everything all the time.  If you have fifty flavors of ice cream to choose from, you’re only going to be thinking that you missed out on a better one after you have the cone in your hand.

Aside from all of that, the show was awesome.  The band did a great job of taking all of the computery stuff from the recordings and translating it through the instruments.  Chino seemed to be having more fun than anybody else in the room.  His energy was non-stop, which is admirable for somebody that has been doing this for so long.  It would be very easy to take everything for granted and fall into a rhythm, but he seems to refuse to do that.  If I were still wearing my hat, I’d tip it to him right now for constantly trying new things and broadening his repertoire of musical accomplishments. 

I’m sure if I waited a day to post this, I could easily find youtube clips to illustrate my point but I’m impatient.  In fact, I wanted to wait until tomorrow to write this so I could get to sleep at a decent hour, but I knew it would be picking at me until I got it on paper.  Or on my computer screen, I guess.

Even with the two-hour buildup, the thirty dollar ticket, and the smartphone onslaught, I’m really glad I went to the show.  And not because I can now say that I’ve seen Chino play with the Deftones (about fifty times, give or take a few), Team Sleep, and Crosses.  Although, that is pretty cool.  It was worth it because the music was amazing, I’ve been wanting to hear these songs live for a long time, and because I haven’t been to a show since October.  Also, I took a piss next to Shaun Lopez before the show which isn’t really something to brag about, but the fact we both held our dicks next to each other has got to mean something, right?

1 comment:

  1. Great review of last nights show, spot on. I feel like everyone there last night should have won a prize by making it through the DJ set, oh wait, that prize was watching Crosses! I agree that it was pretty crazy how many smartphones (mostly iPhones) were present, can't say i've seen that many in close proximity. The advent of social media and smartphones has definitely changed the concert going experience.

    It's quite possible that I was the guy mentioned that was recording during the show. Since I got an iPhone in December i've been going nuts recording video at shows. Originally I started doing it for my benefit but lately it's been for the benefit of the artist or others that weren't able to make it to the show. I kinda regret taking video during the show because it was pretty cheesy having all the lit up smartphone displays on most of the video and I could have kicked back and enjoyed the show more.

    This review has definitely gave me an epiphany about how concert going for me lately has been more about documenting/archiving the experience instead of living in the moment and truly enjoying the experience. Thanks again for this.