Live Review: Meat Puppets; Marcus Theater; Har Mar Superstar tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 10:43 pm November 9, 2009

More than any recent band performance, I’ve had more people ask for my comments about the Nik Fackler film Lovely, Still. I’ll be talking about it in length in this week’s column (which focuses on the film’s soundtrack and how it was made). The short answer is that it was a lot better than what I was expecting based on the film’s early word-of-mouth and various chatter from those associated with the production. Two days after seeing it, Teresa and I were still talking about it and what certain sequences mean or why Nik went in the direction that he did. We also did the obligatory search for the house used in the film (and found it). I suggest that you go see the film, which is playing at the new Marcus Midtown Theater through Thursday.

My experience with the Marcus theater wasn’t as… positive. I realize it was the opening week and that they still have a lot of things to work out, but come on folks, there are some basic things about running a theater that should be ingrained before you open the doors — things like good concession service and an explanation when your theater is offering something outside the norm.

Some background: The Marcus Midtown is a four-level entertainment complex of which only one floor is dedicated to the actual theater (level 3). There’s an entrance on the first floor, the Glo Lounge on the second floor, the actual theater and concessions on the third floor and a “VIP area” on the fourth floor (which I didn’t see) — all connected via escalators. Once inside, the complex feels like something you’d find in a big city (i.e., New York City). The lounge was bustling when we showed up at around 8 for the 9:15 screening. I talked to a couple people in the lounge who told me they weren’t there to see a movie, only to booze it up in Glo.

So the gripes… There are two kinds of seating at Marcus — CineDine and General Admission. If you want to try some of their restaurant fare, you have to have CineDine seating, otherwise you’re stuck with the traditional movie theater grub (hot dogs, popcorn, etc.). You can’t order the “good food” from the concession area. You also can’t order booze from the concession area. I assume it’s some sort of liquor license restriction. I guess you can get your beer at Glo and bring it with you? There certainly were a lot of people drinking beer/wine in the theater.

If (as we did) you get stuck with general admission seats, get ready for a horrible experience. GA seats are designated to the first three rows of the theater, below the stadium-style CineDine seating. When they designed the theater, they put these rows too close to the screen, so viewing is terrible from all three rows — a real Clockwork Orange experience, as I overheard one patron describe it. Don’t get GA seats.

Then there’s the concession stand. We ordered some hot pretzels and an Icee. It took 10 minutes to get the pretzels. The Icee ended up being a Sudsee — warm punch-flavored goo instead of, well, ice. Literally warm foam. The person running the concession stand apologized and promised to bring us a frozen one “in 10 minutes, as soon as they’re ready.” It never arrived. Again, you expect some turbulence during opening week, but not theft.

I’d like to tell you that the screening itself was good, but I’m still nursing my sore neck from the horrible GA seats. I want nothing more than for this theater to succeed, however until they get their act together, I’ll see you at the Dundee…

* * *

I saw a lot of people at the Meat Puppets show at The Waiting Room Saturday night that I haven’t seen at shows in, well, years. It was an old school crowd in every sense of the word. The average age of the 200 or so fans on hand had to be somewhere in the 30s. Someone described the band as “the Grateful Dead of punk rock,” and that’s kind of what it looked like. The Kirkwood brothers themselves visually added to that hippie vibe, but musically it was anything but. While not the over-the-top arena rock that I saw in Austin earlier this year, the Meat Puppets still bought the noise with equal parts thunder and twang. Nice set, with no chit-chat between songs, just one song right after another. I left two songs into the encore. See photo.

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room, it’s Har Mar Superstar with Bang Bang Eche. $10, 9 p.m.

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