Column 245 — Safe at Home; Pomegranates, Headlights tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 6:40 pm November 4, 2009

This column is a recasting of last Thursday’s blog entry with about 500 words added on the end. The Conor Oberst concert that I mentioned Monday (and is mentioned in the column) sold out last night. Game 6 is tonight…

Column 245: Safe at Home
Monsterless by choice…

This was supposed to be a review of last week’s Monsters of Folk concert at The Holland Center, but the “poets of our time” were up against the Yankees, and they didn’t stand a chance.

In their defense, there was more than a little uncertainty helping the Yankees in this battle. I’d had a conversation a few weeks ago with Monsters of Folk’s publicist about that Conor interview that never happened. At the time, the publicist said she was putting me on “the list” for the show, but it was spoken almost as an aside. I e-mailed her the morning of the show asking for confirmation, but never heard back.

Late in the afternoon I stopped down to the Holland box office to see if I was on the guest list, but they said they wouldn’t know until an hour before the show, and that I could just call down to confirm. But when I did, the grunt on the other end of the phone said the only way I was going to find out for sure was to drive downtown. A side note: I’ve had three bad experiences with the Holland box office in my critic’s capacity. Good thing I rarely attend shows there.

Anyway, while on hold with the Holland, the World Series was beginning. So: Do I drive downtown and possibly get turned away at the Will Call window, or do I stay home and watch the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series?

It didn’t take long to decide. The Monsters of Folk record — which very likely will be at the top of a number of national critics’ “best of” lists — is somewhat boring. The thought of sitting in Holland’s pine-box seating for three hours listening to yawn-inducing singer-songwriter fare just wasn’t appealing — that is, if I even got inside the concert hall. But had I made it in, I probably would have been glued to my iPhone the whole time keeping track of the score, and hoping they’d just wrap it up so I could at least catch the last inning. And that wouldn’t be fair to Conor and his pals.

I need to clarify something: I don’t do this for a living. Never have. I occasionally run into people at shows or record stores or bars, people who have read my column or my website, who think that I make my living writing for The Reader. I guess it’s a reasonable assumption when the only way they know me is through my writing, but really, how much do they think freelance writers make, and do I really look that destitute?

All those years that Sex and the City was on the air, I always was amused that the heroine, Carrie Bradshaw, could afford to live alone in a Manhattan apartment on an income generated from writing a column for a local paper that wasn’t The New York Times. Think about that the next time you watch a movie based in NYC — could the protagonist really afford his or her luxury Upper East Side lifestyle based on his/her salary? Ah, but that’s why we go to the movies isn’t it, to suspend our belief in reality.

It is because I don’t do this for a living that I don’t have to go to every “significant” rock show, and certainly the Monsters of Folk gig will go down as one of the landmark shows of ’09, whether it was or not. In the old days, just a few years ago, I would have felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for missing the event; I would have felt a need to attend it just for “history’s sake,” and probably would have gone.

But these days, there are the other “distractions” that are taking precedent — like the Yankees. I’m finally beginning to get to that point where it’s becoming easier and easier to let myself stay home or do something else. Fact is I don’t — I couldn’t — see every significant on-stage performance; my life simply won’t permit it. The act of lifting my head off the warm, inviting pillow at 5 a.m. the morning after — my whole body vibrating with a sense of all-encompassing inner fatigue — is becoming too brutal. Keep in mind, most of the people that you saw last night at The Waiting Room or Slowdown or O’Leaver’s or wherever didn’t wake up until the rest of us were going to lunch.

There still are “can’t miss” shows, and I rarely miss them. Unlike his Monsters of Folk project, I won’t be missing Conor Oberst when he performs a solo set at The Waiting Room Dec. 22 as a benefit for a very worthy cause. I already bought my ticket.

This may not be what I do for a living, but this is what I do. Not because I have to, but because I want to. So if you see my writing — online or right here — talking about last weekend’s mind-blowing concert or ultimate let-down, it’s because upon weighing the plusses and minuses, the band came out on the plus side.

By the way, the Yankees lost.

* * *

More interesting than the headliner are tonight’s openers at The Waiting Room. Pomegranates album, Everybody Come Outside (on Lujo Records), has been on my iPhone since it was released in April. If you dig, say, Tokyo Police Club or Vampire Weekend or Shout Out Louds, you’re going to love this band. Fellow opener, Minnesota singer/violist/keyboardist Anni Rossi signed to 4AD Records last year, and just got off the road with Camera Obscura. The headliner, Headlights, has come through Omaha a few times in the past (to both O’Leaver’s and The Waiting Room). This will be a helluva show that I’m going to very likely miss for reasons given above…9 p.m., $10.

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