Confessions of a Concert Snob

The boy and I have officially crossed the line from mosh pit junkies to indie hipsters, aka concert snobs.  You know those people tipping back hard liquor while clearly passing judgment on you while you head bang to an acoustic duet of Outkast’s “Hey Yah”?  Okay, we aren’t quite that bad but we do stop to chat with musicians manning their own merch tables only to spend the next two hours deconstructing the show as we seek to find the deeper meaning of it all over lattes.

It started with little things like patronizing hole in the wall coffee shops on weeknights to catch this or that act we had seen on some tragically hip poster artfully taped to the used bookstore corkboard.  When you work in the corporate world, one feels just a little more grounded and earthy whenever one finds something noteworthy on the used bookstore corkboard.  Even more points if one finds it on the uber trendy, uber hole in the wall sub sandwich place with the headless baby dolls on the counter as décor.  Nothing says hip and trendy more than headless baby dolls except for the wall of magazine cutouts with hand written captions only regulars understand.

But you see, attending these little soirées at coffee shops and bars leads one to believe they are getting in on the ground floor of something truly great and let’s face it, who doesn’t want to feel like they were on the ground floor of something great?  Sure, there were shows so bad I wanted to toss my cookies (The song “Blood in the Washing Machine” does not inspire me to consume more dessert, people.  I’m just saying).  But there have truly been some great finds.

Case in point:  the Whitney Meyer Band.  Okay, we didn’t catch on to the band via cork board but both the boy and I were immediately transfixed by the wild haired girl with more soul in one untamed ringlet than most people have in their entire body.  We were playing host to forty or so of our closest friends and family members at a local AAA baseball game.  It was a raucous and rather festive occasion and as the host and hostess, the boy and I were busily working the crowd from opposite ends.  And as if on cue, the music started and our eyes instantly locked across the party patio.  “Who is this?!”

See all these people? They too love Whitney Meyer, don’t you friends and family? Yes, yes you do.

It really did happen like that.  We actually took a break from our hosting duties to just dig the groove.  Yes, I did just say that.  The final analysis, “This is something great.”  And so we became Whitney stalkers.  Okay, not really.  I only stalk Adam Duritz from Counting Crows but that is a whole other story.  What actually happened was a few local shows and even being waited on by her at our favorite local brewery.  We both agreed in another one of our deep analytical discussion of the future of budding musicians that she wouldn’t be waiting tables for long.  Because you know we both are so hip and trendy like that.  We totally influence the music world.  Totally.  I mean, the boy played the sax in junior high school and I was a music major for all of ten seconds in college.  TOTALLY.

Dear Adam, It’s Liz.  I love you.  I am so sorry about that one time I ran into you on the casino floor and started hyperventilating like some teenage girl at a Beatles concert.  I blame the tequila sunrise.  So sorry.  (Photo Credit:  Gene Shaw/Landov, People Magazine)

All our pretentiousness aside, neither of us was the least bit surprised to learn that our favorite local artist had auditioned for NBC’s “The Voice.”  In fact, when the article first appeared in the paper the boy and I placed bets on how many judges would turn around and just exactly who might get her.  (All I have to say is, I was right and the boy was wrong.)  When the audition finally was aired, the boy came and woke me out of a dead sleep to watch it.  Totally worth it giving up my fifth consecutive dream of running an endless marathon (this is a new recurring nightmare of mine I really should discuss).  She belted out Alicia Key’s and she owned it.  We knew she would because again, we are just that good.

This all leads me to last night.

Somehow a new, small local venue had scored Whitney along with fellow “Voice” contestant, Lyndsey Pavao.  There was no doubt in our minds that whatever plans we had previously were to be instantly dropped in favor of seeing the show.  On a school night no less!

It was absolutely worth it.

First, kudos to Comm Row on their new concert venue Cargo.  (Just so we are clear, being a concert snob also means completely tearing apart and analyzing possible venues.  For example, seeing Cake at the Reno Events Center?  Eh, I could live without it.  Seeing Cake at the Knit?  Absolutely.)  Comm Row gutted what used to be a restaurant and turned it into a pretty nifty concert venue.  Cargo has a lot of the features the boy and I enjoy:  small room, great vibe and great sound.  The bar was tended well and easy to get to.  Security had a great sense of humor but still got the job done.  There really wasn’t a bad place to sit or stand in the house.  Did I mention the staff was laid back and mellow?  Always a plus.  I’m sorry, I don’t need Bruno Bald Man, aka Muscles McGhee, hovering over me to check my stamp and/or wrist band every time I have to pee.  You know what else I liked, if only because it was rather funny?  Instead of marking those of us old enough to drink, they used sharpies to put big black X’s on the hands of the underaged…including children.  So when I came into work this morning I didn’t have the dreaded stamp that will take at least six washings to come off that clearly proclaims, “I was out drinking last night” but little kids can go to their first grade teachers with their big black X’s and say, “I went to a bar last night!”  Awesome.  Truly Awesome.  But I digress.

The show itself was great.  It actually started on time (shocker) with opener Reggie Ginn from Sac  (which for those who don’t know the area is sort of like the Reno of Northern California and close enough to be considered marginally local and therefore not entirely cool but how could it be with San Francisco nearby?).  She was quirky, funny and talented.  She also didn’t overstay her welcome or get all “I am such a great musician I don’t know why I am playing for all YOU people” on us.  I could have actually done with a few more songs from her.

Next up was Lindsey Pavao who was surprisingly nervous and not a terribly polished performer, as evidenced by ending every song by bending over to read “Cliff Notes to My Show” at her feet while nervously thumping at her guitar.  She tried a little banter with the crowd but it mostly resulted in more nerves.  I get this.  I really do but girl, you made it onto the “Voice” for a reason.  Be proud.  And after a couple shaky covers, she sang a song she had written and we met a whole new side of her.  Her set was surprisingly short but ended with the aforementioned acoustic duet of “Hey yah!” with Whitney that I will admit actually gave me goose bumps.  That could have also been the vodka.  Don’t judge me.  But in the final analysis (which of course occurred directly after the show over lattes.  I wasn’t kidding about that), one thing was abundantly clear:  Lindsey has talent.  She needs experience and confidence, yet but she has talent.

The first half of the show had a pretty familiar vibe to the boy and I.  We were just chillin’ enjoying our beverages, maintaining defensible space on the dance floor and trying not to get icked out by the swarms of gray hairs making out (I know this is the second time I have mentioned this but seriously GET A ROOM).  The second half of the show was absolutely electric.

Whitney Meyer (RGJ.com)

I’m not exhagerating here.  Obviously, when in Reno most people are here to see the Reno girl who is on a national reality television show (she did after all sell out Cargo, a first for the venue).  But if Whitney had been great when we first saw her last spring, she and the band were absolutely amazing last night.  That confidence and professionalism I mentioned above?  None of that was lacking in this performance.  Add to it a genuinely grateful attitude toward the crowd and a great funky set list that transitioned well from song to song and you had one hell of show.  At least that was our take during the deconstruction (seriously, we really do that.  We have issues).  In fact, the boy and I may not know all that much about this whole music thing (no matter how hotly we debate it after each and every show), but there is one thing we are both sure of:  Regardless of how far Whitney Meyer goes on the “Voice” she is awesome.  And of course we have the shirt “to prove that we’re there, that we heard of [her] first.”  And thus concludes this episode of Confessions of a Concert Snob.

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