Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bjork - Hollywood Bowl 6/11/2013

“I think I’m over music.”

I said this to my girlfriend last week.  And while being said somewhat in jest, there is a tint of truth to it.  To a certain degree, I’m sick of all of my favorite bands and I haven’t found anything new that interests me.  Looking through my iPod is an exercise in settling for something that seems like it’ll bore me the least.  I haven’t frequented a local show in years and even the bigger bands haven’t been able to attract my attention.  There are, of course, exceptions to this that will drag me from my cave of solitude in order to attend a concert, even if I need to go alone.  Such was the case last night when I saw Bjork at the Hollywood Bowl.

Yup, that's how she dressed for the encore.

As I’ve only done once before at an Every Time I Die show a couple months ago, I bought one ticket for the Bjork concert without planning to meet up with anybody.  Going to concerts alone is a little weird during the downtime, but once the music starts it’s just fine. 

The Hollywood Bowl is, apparently, one of the best outdoor venues (or at least that’s what they say).  I don’t feel comfortable speaking to the veracity of this statement, but I can say that it is an awesome venue nestled within trees and hills.  A bit like, well, a bowl, I guess.  Beers are expensive but not ridiculous, there is a variety of foods to choose from, and the seats aren’t incredibly uncomfortable.  I sat on a wooden bench and was surrounded by the much more expensive seated areas that are cordoned off into little boxes that you can reserve and get dinner from a waiter that is apparently required to hold the tray of food as high as he possibly can with one hand.  They weren’t any closer to the stage, but I guess they allow you to look over at the bench and snicker at the poor saps that paid half of what you did.  What a bunch of idiots and slackers, right?  Totally.

Should I drink more beer or read about the Holocaust?  Both.
I rode the shuttle from Hollywood, which was probably the best thing I could’ve done.  It was fast, easy, and cheap.  Or, I guess, I could’ve parked in the lot and spent an hour trying to get the hell out of there.  But that’s fucking stupid, so I didn’t do that. 

I arrived a full two hours before the show was scheduled to start because I really didn’t want to be late and overshot a (lot) little bit.  I was prepared with a backpack containing a really uplifting book, a water bottle, and my ipod.  But the most important part of my preparation was the wallet in my back pocket that I loaded with money before leaving for the show.  This allowed me to stuff my face with giant cups of delicious Blue Moon while listening to Tom Waits and texting anybody that would respond to me. 

While occupying myself with beer and music, I was able to scope out my fellow concert-goers and I realized pretty quickly that a Bjork concert attracts some strange characters.  Crazy outfit after crazy outfit filtered through the ticket lines that would make a fairly normal person, such as myself, want to ask them if they were running a dangerously high fever or something when they dressed themselves.  But I just chalked it up to the night and patiently waited for the concert to begin.

There was an opener but I never heard their name, and apparently neither did anybody sitting around me.  They were okay, but you could tell nobody gave a shit about them.  I guess that’s what happens when you open for an act that everybody is extremely eager to see.  Sure, it’s good exposure in that many people are seeing you, but those people only see the band as something in the way of the headliner.  So, shut the fuck up and take down your stage setup as quickly as possible, please.

Eventually, they did and the lights went out.  I was in the bathroom when the crowd started cheering so I almost popped off the end of my dick as I tried to piss as hard as humanly possible.  I zipped up, said fuck washing my hands, and ran as fast as I could while not spilling any beer.  I made it to my seat a minute before people began filing onto the stage.

There was a ten-person choir (possibly twelve, it was hard to count as they were continuously moving around), a drummer/xylophonist, a computery-bleep-blooper and a couple more random dudes around the back doing, I don’t know, something.  And of course, the last person to walk onstage beneath a fluffy afro was the wonderful, talented, and amazing Bjork.  Occasionally hanging above the stage was a giant Tesla Coil that would accompany the punchy bass lines with giant lightening bolts.  It was fucking awesome.

I was worried that the setlist would be heavily weighted with songs from her new album, Biophilia.  She opened with a song off of that album, but after that she played a song from Homogenic and I knew we’d be getting a good dose of old material, which we did.  The songs didn’t meld into each other which allowed Bjork the chance to thank the audience in the dark before starting the next song.  These tiny, “thank yous” combined with her carefree, childlike dancing leads to believe that she is actually a five year old.  She speaks and acts exactly like a child, but then her voice blares at you with incredible force and control.  It’s amazing.  I couldn’t stop smiling the entire show. 

Only once did it seem like the timing between the music and the vocals went off-balance for a moment, but otherwise the show was perfect.  The choir brought the recorded song to life while adding new layers to the composition.  This was most striking in the live version of Mutual Core.  The choir’s approaching train throughout the chorus made it seem as if the world was about to end, or at least get a large chunk of it broken off.

The concert fake-ended and the crowd cheered while letting their eyes adjust back to the dark after the fireball-infused frenzy that ended the set.  Of course, the choir filed back onstage to perform the encore.  After a haunting song, they began playing Hyperballad, which in my opinion was the highlight of the night.  The beat began doubling at the end, breaking away from the half-time feel of the majority of the song.  It came to the point where the song would end on the album and I found myself thinking, “I really hope they just let this keep going so we can enjoy it for a little while more.”  And what do you know, apparently I’m a wizard because that’s exactly what they did.  Bjork hopped onto the choir’s stage and danced with her friends while I tried to keep the brewing happiness building within my chest from bursting forth and running around the amphitheater like a gremlin.

After Hyperballad finished, she announced her last song and started playing Declare Independence.  I knew this would be her closer since I had looked at previous setlists, but I was still a little bummed.  This is probably my least favorite song of hers and Hyperballad would have been a perfect way to end the concert.  But I’m not going to complain about being able to see her dance around for another few minutes.  In fact, this song had the performers dancing their hardest out of the whole night.  I counted four different girls from the choir circle-headbanging while the others ran all over the place and rocked out.  Eventually, everyone left the stage, the lights came on, and I speed-walked to find the shuttle home.  After I found my way back to my bike, I went right ahead and bar hopped by myself until two in the morning when I went to the taco stand followed by sitting on the couch trying to ignore the spins.

It’s obvious that I’m not “over” music as I had previously worried.  I just needed to find something to get excited about and this concert was definitely the kick in the ass I was looking for.  Will this inspire me to continue making music, seeing as how I haven’t written a song in over a year (which is the longest break I’ve taken since starting to write music when I was thirteen)?  We’ll see.  Even if not, at least I have a renewed faith in the ability of music to transcend the air it travels through and affect the brain like a drug.

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