the missus and i caught ryan adams's final show (set list) at town hall last night. we kind of thought he was the opening act (leona "charm attack" naess) when he came onstage, as he had pigtails, flared jeans, and white platform shoes - the whole effect was very manga, and weirdly adorable. maybe not weirdly - i love me some cross-dressing boys. anyway, he led with "come pick me up," a song that guts me (and one of, say, four of his that i recognize - joe and miss w have been proselytizing for some time, but i've been slow on the uptake. i can absorb one alt country act per year.).* then came "when the stars go blue" (which i also recognized, via the corrs - listen, i work for a ladymag), then "oh my sweet carolina" - quite a few heartbreaker tracks up front, there - then the wheels started to come off.** some of the frattier segments of the audience were shouting song titles fairly aggressively, which is obviously par for the course at rock shows, but it seemed to rattle herr adams a bit. he broke for intermission (?!) after some mumbling, at which point i sprinted to the bathroom and ran into barbara bush.*** joe reports that in my absence, RA noted that being seven months sober means that he doesn't handle drunk assholes very well. a few more songs, more heckling - alas, someone started yelling "SUMMER OF '69!" quite loudly - and, after a few more comments about assholes ("would you like a diet coke with that?"), he kind of gave up. the rest of the set was half-mumbled, quite sullen, and half an hour short, no encores.

audience chatter on the way out of the theater was interesting. the superfans regretted not beating the shit out of the yellers before they got out of hand; half of the drunk people and a few of the sober ones felt cheated out of the rest of their show. i just felt kind of sorry for ryan adams. as i said, performers have got to know that folks will yell - and i think that they're expected to tolerate it, to a certain extent. that said, he made it clear that he was upset and was totally ignored. hell, chan marshall supposedly has panic attacks at like half of her shows; i don't fault sensitive guitar boy for losing his cool once. i wonder, though, if most people would consider it unprofessional, or unfair. internets, thoughts?

*this was quite lucky for us, actually, as the word on the street was that he wasn't repeating songs in new york.

**rolling stone disagrees, which is interesting for at least four different reasons.

***the twin, not the matriarch. she was wearing a black minidress that looked like it had been shredded by a cougar; i'm tempted to add half a point to both my "rats" and "star" tallies, but i don't know for sure that she's inflatable - and the whole celeb relative thing was questionable enough when i counted haylie duff.


hannah said...

I remember hearing about a similar RA show happening a few years ago - he got a lot of Bryan Adams-related heckles and - did he stomp offstage, or request that the hecklers be given a refund and the boot, or both? I don't remember, but either one seems plausible....

jacob said...

um, mr. adams has had problems with critics before.

three words: jim derogatis' voicemail.


look, he's clearly had a poor history of dealing with critics/hecklers, and he hasn't figured out a way to deal with the issue professionally. if this was some folkie at the open-mic night at the local coffeehouse, then sure, unfair all the way. however, i think that at around one million albums sold you lose the sensitive guitar boy excuse.

also: did you ask barbara if she's bought a new purse yet?

tom said...

I don't think that Chan Marshall has panic attacks at her show--from my (one) experience, it's just that she is fantastically drunk. Slurring one word into another, and then one song into another. Literally, she will jump from the hook in one song straight into the hook from another. The backup band somehow has to keep track. Her appearance c. 2000 in San Francisco is the one show from which I left early.

Nice to see Babs back from Argentina in one piece, btw.

tom said...

Also: three radio DJs, back to back to back. All ex-DJs too, unless Hannah is still around the station. (Sorry. Haven't kept track.)

Not a big deal, but worth noting. Maybe.

lauren said...

how unfair is it that my own comment field boots me for having fucked-up cookie settings? boo.

H,J: i'd half-heard something to that effect in the many whispers on the way out (re: previous spotlights and bootings), which is why it's problematic that i feel sorry for RA. what should he be expected to take, and what's the cool thing to do, if there is one when someone clearly crosses the line? and who goes out of their way to upset someone they're paying to see, anyway? if, hypothetically, any performers wanted to weigh in on this, they could do so anonymously, or something.

J: her suspiciously beefy girlfriend would totally have tasered me. i want no taser but kristin bell's.

T: i've never been to one of her shows, but i got that impression of CM anecdotally, and from an interview in new york:Cat Power shows can be incredible. Trancelike, she will sometimes go through more than twenty songs, often doing drastic reworkings of them. She never stops between numbers, the space filled with her plinking on the piano or guitar. This is to stop the audience from showing appreciation. Clapping is even worse than spotlights.

“Sometimes going from one song to the other,” Chan says, “I remember that the audience is there and go into a panic. And I think, Come on, Chan, what song? What song? and I can’t sing and I can’t concentrate and I think, I hate myself.”. When this happens, the result can be awkwardly somnolent, with Chan nervously tuning her guitar forever. “I’m not a professional entertainer. I’m not Neil Diamond.”
in her case, the drinking seems to go hand in hand with that.

all: i'm loving the KZSU comment party.

hannah said...

KZSU comment party! I haven't been down to the station since July of aught-five (in retrospect, the fill-in show I did then would stand OK as a final show, but I still feel like it won't be, maybe) - but the keys are still on my keychain. (Which is funny, because y'all popping up and knowing about the KZSU-ness makes me feel like you just told me what I have in my pockets....)

Sometimes I feel like bad performer behavior is OK - almost expected - as part of the show. Sometimes I feel like it's the best possible way to make sure some dumbass yells "Summer of 69!" at every one of your future shows, and you just have to not cry about it. Something about who the performer is (indie rock vs. the more expectedly bacchanalian genres); something about how entertaining the antics (sulking vs. breakage) - the actual equation is obscure but I'm sure there is one. I like to think that I go to shows with a reasonable lack of expectations, but if the headliner stomped off after the first couple songs, I'm pretty sure I'd feel cheated in some way.

tom said...

Chan sez: "I'm not a professional entertainer." Well, you coulda fooled me, what with the CD selling and the merch hawking and all that. She must be an accountant in the daytime and just do the rock thing for fun.

But maybe she just gets tired of it all. For (a wildly off-topic) example: the CTA's Holiday Train. Where they dress up an El with Christmas lights inside and out, pump in tunes (Deano, Elvis, etc.), and have staff dressed up like elves and handing out mini candy canes.

(Yet it's still a Holiday Train. Paging Bill O'Reilly.)

Anywho. One elf came up to me to offer peppermint joy, and I took one. And then she said "go on, take some more," and so I took two more. This offended the elf--she insisted I take half the bucket. She didn't want to lug them home. See, she was on the train for four hours, and looked like she was ready to hit somebody. And so I obliged.

And then Elf No. 2 came by a few minutes later and insisted that I take a candy cane. I said "no thanks, I got plenty"--I even showed her. This angered her. DO NOT MAKE THE ELVES ANGRY, I thought. And so I took half her basket. My briefcase is now filled with a three-month's supply of the candy canes.

So there's that. But these people were volunteers, spreading some oh-so-jolly Christmannukawaanzasolstice cheer to people paying $2 to ride home on a Friday night. Which is what they would do every Friday. Chan takes in $12 a pop to entertain people when she swings by her town only once in a while, if that often. She could cheer up about the whole thing. Ryan Adams and the rest of the surly lot too.

wabes said...

i love me some ryan adams from "heartbreaker" and so i envy you, even with drunk idiots and the poor, stale, bryan adams jokes. years ago, pre-total-meltdown, he did some interesting tipsy covers of the rolling stones in DC -- a slow, bluesy "brown sugar" really stuck. i'm glad he's playing some of his old stuff, and that he's on some sort of wagon...

enjelani said...

performer weighing in here, albeit neither of the genre nor stature (nor talent, prolly) of Mr. Adams...

on the rare occasions when the dickheads have taken over, i mostly felt sorry for the rest of the audience. hell, they paid to get in; ergo, i am a "professional entertainer," and to a certain extent i'm there to deliver the experience that they want. so i try not to get ruffled, i work off of imaginary endorphins, i try a few ploys to get the rogues to STFU. and if that doesn't work, well, it's not so much my evening that's ruined as everyone else's. i'll be doing the same thing 24 hours later. some of the folks on the floor waited months for this show and may not get another for months, maybe years. it's for them that i get pissed off, not myself.

on a related note, Regina Spektor's webforum debates how much singing along is okay.

joe said...

the singing along debate is one worth having. i can't think of a single instance in which i want to hear someone other than the performer/band singing at a concert, but there are some times when it's at least tolerable.

for example, i think that it's acceptable to chime in if you're crying at the same time. who would want to deny a bunch of aqua-netted, early-90's hungarian girls the opportunity to weep and sing along with Man in the Mirror? i know i wouldn't; they be crazy and shit. [see also Wind of Change (Eastern Bloc performances only), anything at a Christian rock show.]

also, if you're seeing Queen at Wembley and while singing Radio Ga Ga Freddie Mercury points the mic at the crowd, i give you my retroactive blessing to let 'er rip.