If you ever want to feel like a truly cranky old man, try going to a summer weeknight concert at the Paradise. Go on. I dare you.
The first indication that I might possibly be in for an odd time was when, a few moments after the doors should have opened, the bouncer came down the slightly damp line to let us know that they were still sound checking, but those of us over 21 could feel free to come in out of the rain.
I was the only one I saw taking advantage of that offer. There were maybe twenty to thirty people in front of me in line at that point.
Anyway, if you’ve never been to the Paradise, you really should. It’s a lovely venue for seeing great bands. It’s big enough that you feel like you’re at a concert rather than an awkward party, but small enough that if you arrive early you might just get sweated on by a guitarist. (I’m pretty sure I did.)
I had fantastic positioning, owing to the fact that I came early and alone and stood there the entire damn time. I suddenly realized why there are always so many people who seem like they’re beeing Kind Of Dick at a show–when you have a good spot and you are serious about listening to music, you fight like hell to stand your ground. So that’s what I did. Through the pack of 20 year old girls screaming for the various members of the band who so obviously made them swoon, through the truly obnoxious woman who tried to wrap her arms around me several times, and through various people who thought maybe they could get up to the railing if they just managed to squeeze a hand between my elbow and the elbow of the guy to my right, who had also been there since the doors opened (and can also obtain an alcoholic drink without subterfuge or flattery). I think I even ended up with bruises on my forearms.
But enough about me. On to the music.
The opening opener (Kuroma) did not thrill me. They were sort of fun to watch, in that they were sort of nerdy and awkward but clearly having a real good time, but I didn’t really care much for the music, or how directly their speakers were pointing into my left ear. (Note to self: bring earplugs to next show.)
Violens, on the other hand, was really great. The mixing (or possibly just the guitar speaker in ear problem–hard to say) meant I couldn’t make out anyone’s lyrics very well, so I might not like them as much when I can tell what they’re saying, but I really enjoyed their music. A few songs with catchy hooks, some nice guitar work, nothing too flashy or pretentious. Plus their bassist was very sweet, and talked to me and shook my hand as they were clearing out for the next set. Points.
I don’t have a lot to say about MGMT. I think one of their songs (“Electric Feel”) is incredible, two (“Kids” and “Time to Pretend”) are catchy and pretty good, and the rest of their first album is kind of blah. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from their show. I didn’t expect that any of them would be vaguely heart-throbbish (note to self: go to shows with uglier singers) or that they would put on airs of We Are So Epic. Listen To Our Epic Guitarist Play Another Epic Guitar Riff. (Okay, he was good, but come on now.) I also didn’t expect that “Kids” live would be a pretty huge disappointment, though I guess maybe I should have realized that since it’s entirely electronic that was a possibility.
My verdict: see Violens again sometime, but pass on MGMT. Also, possibly more beer, to wave in the faces of underage people while simultaneously making them more bearable.