Amelia Earhart was a childhood hero of mine. Of course by childhood, I refer to a period of time that stretched well into my early twenties...but I'm growing up now.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

O'er the Band of the Free

(And the Ears of the Brave)

I love freebies. I love when you buy a product that has a free sample of another product shrink-wrapped to the side of it. Even if I don’t particularly want to try the free sample of whatever-it-is, I might be persuaded to spend a little too much on the main product to get the sample. I just think it’s neat. (I also love buying last minute impulse items at the cash register – clearly, I am a marketer’s dream.) My love for freebies, however does not seem to fully encompass the phenomenon known as Opening Band(s).

Maybe you know what I mean. Sunday night I was at a concert waiting intently to hear the band that I actually paid to see, but first I had to slog through the dreaded Opening Bands. (Incidentally, when I just typed the word band my fingers slipped and typed bad – for a few fleeting seconds, I seriously considered leaving it that way.) I say dreaded, because you generally have no idea what you’re in for. They could be really great and you might actually want to hear them again. You might actually look them up on myspace and download tracks (the high-tech version of selling tapes out of one’s car). In truth, I have discovered some of my current favorite bands that way, and in fact, the band I paid to see that night gained their spot “on-the-map” some years ago as the opening act for another, more famous, emo band. Also, in general, when you go to see a big name band, the opening bands are likely to be ones you’ve heard of (ie, when I saw Green Day this fall, Jimmy Eat World & Flogging Molly opened and it was like three-concerts-in-one – it was rad…dude), so I’m really not counting these in my rant right now. All of this aside, yes, you could actually enjoy listening to the O.B., BUT you probably won’t, and, as was the case Sunday, you may feel like your ears need a good cleansing afterward.

You may even decide that as much as you loved the concert you came to see, having to sit through the opening band in an under-air-conditioned room with a lot of sweaty bodies standing too close to one another, was nearly cause to resent the price you paid for the tickets – even if they were free. Fortunately, on Sunday, I was at the Knitting Factory which has other rooms where you can not only find different bands to listen to, but places to sit. I find that the ability to sit while listening to a bad/uninteresting band lessens my dislike of listening to them a great deal. However, I don’t think even sitting could have helped the O.B. in the room my friend & fled from, because the members of the O.B. had apparently decided that rather than practicing for the gig, they would sample all the contents of their grandmother’s medicine cabinet (including the Windex) and prowl around on stage like tribe of rabid, screaming monkeys. To me, this kind of freebie is like those silica gel packets you find in a box of stereo equipment – you don’t want it, you’re really not sure why it’s there in the first place & it will make you sick if you ingest it.


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