Sunday, October 31, 2004

Rock me like a hurricane ... please?

The wife and I braved a swarm of costumed, underage, commercial radio listeners last night in order to see Jet live. The dirty Aussie lads have played precious few gigs in the U.S. this year, so the 99X Halloween show was our only sure shot to see them.

If you don't know Jet - they are some serious rockin' mofos. And herein lies my problem with the show last night. Somebody turned down the volume.

We were standing about 10 yards from a serious speaker stack, but we were not rocked. It was more like being at an American Bandstand taping than a rock-n-roll show.

In my mind, there are some basic truths of live rock-n-roll (I'm talking real rock. Green Day, not Ashlee Simpson for you radio fans):

• Standing right next to a speaker stack will be uncomfortable for all but the most hardcore fans.

• Sensitive ponytail guys (OK, not many sensitive men have ponytails anymore, but you know who I'm talking about) will use the foam earplugs they carry around when they see live music.

• At least one pair of young girls who start the show near the stage will head quickly toward the back with their hands over their ears.

• When the bass player pounds hard on a naked E, your teeth will rattle.

• When the singer screams, it will hurt you.

• If the band happens to have a song most of the audience knows, never will the audience singing be heard over the band.

• When you leave the show, your ears are ringing.

• When you wake up the next morning, your ears are ringing.

None of this was true of the show last night. And these truths should apply to Jet, and to The Donnas, who opened up for them.

So what's the deal? I have a couple of theories:

• Either the station or the venue (The Tabernacle) is worried about lawsuits for damaged hearing, especially with an all-ages show.

• Like most things in America today, modern-day mass-market live "rock" is a wussified version of what it used to be. In other words, most people who go to these shows want the volume turned down.

• Maybe the sound just sucked.

I don't know the answer, and fortunately Jet is a very rare example of a popular band I'd actually want to see live.

But last night's show makes me hope Rocket From The Crypt gets back on the road soon. After their Echo Lounge show a couple of years ago, I couldn't hear myself think for a month.

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