Tag Archives: Fueled by Ramen

Love is not a choice: Panic! At The Disco at Meadow Brook Music Festival

30 Jul

Panic at the Disco - picture 2

Photo credit: my concert buddy Davis Kurepa-Peers

I’ve spilled some virtual ink in the past about how underwhelmed I am by the music of Panic! At The Disco – and how my daughters adore them. Having taken the elder one to two of their shows, the younger one was clamoring to go when it was announced they were playing at Meadow Brook this summer. In her words, “You owe me.”

Here’s why:

As she never tires of reminding me, the girls could have seen them for only $3 each two summers ago at the Arts, Beats & Eats festival in Royal Oak. I said no for many good reasons. The band was scheduled to play late in the evening; there were rumors that a concealed weapon contingent was going to show up just to prove they could; I didn’t want my 16-year old responsible for protecting her 10-year old sister amid unanticipated chaos … and I really, really, REALLY didn’t want to chaperone because I couldn’t justify seeing a band I could care less about for a third time when I’d only seen Tom Petty once.

As punishment for my maternal protectiveness – and mature musical taste – I was now stuck paying 12 times more per ticket to see Panic! in an outdoor venue swamped by freakish thunderstorms and mosquito repellent.

In keeping with their management company Fueled By Ramen’s penchant for punctuality, the show started promptly at 7:30 p.m. with opening acts Magic Man and Walking the Moon; both were fun and energetic and worked their skinny jean-clad asses off. Then when lead singer Brendon Urie took the stage, the place went nuts, with Beatles-level shrieking from the 7,700 soggy fans that became downright deafening when he took his shirt off ten minutes later …

Panic at the Disco - picture 1

Photo credit: Davis Kurepa-Peers

I appreciate Urie for how well he treated my older daughter and other fans the last time he came through town, staying late to sign autographs and pose for photos. I also have a new-found respect for him in light of the Westboro Baptist Church’s recent homophobic protests, likely sparked by the band’s ode to bisexuality, “Girls/Girls/Boys.” He also stated in an interview last year that while he’s happily married to a woman and identifies as straight, he’s “experimented in other realms of homosexuality and bisexuality”  in the past, hence the pinheads with hateful posters outside of his Kansas City show. Urie turned it into a fundraiser for the Human Rights Campaign, offering to contribute $20 per protester; when only 13 showed up, he rounded it up to an even $1000 and added in a percentage of the merchandise. Nicely done!

As a veteran of their live performances (sigh), I have to admit Panic! At The Disco puts on a good show. Brendon Urie is an engaging  pop singer with a scorching high vocal range that served him well during their cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” (Here I was, singing along to that song just two weeks after hearing Queen and Adam Lambert perform it at the Palace … déjà vu all over again.) What’s more, their fans enjoy each moment with every fiber of their beings. My daughter was vibrating in anticipation before the show. She sang every lyric and danced at every opportunity. She bought a tour t-shirt with her own money, and if you knew how tight she is with a buck, you’d know how significant that is. She had a completely great time.

That’s something I don’t see at many of the concerts I go to: utter delight. That’s worth the price of admission right there.

See you on the flipside … or at the next stop on my Concertpalooza tour: Gogol Bordello at the Royal Oak Theater on July 30

P.S. When you take Love and Other B-Sides to the beach, you don’t have to worry about getting sand in your Kindle! My novel is available in paperback, as well as in e-book format, on Amazon.com. Read and share!

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Standing in the Way of Control

18 Oct

This backstage pass is from the show I missed in high school. I should ask the guy selling it on eBay how it was.

Like fishermen, I could go on and on about “the one that got away.” I’m talking about concerts that I coulda/shoulda/woulda gone to had I had more forethought/money/connections/taste.

Like Adele appearing at the Royal Oak Theater soon after her debut album 19 came out. Or Bob Dylan, with Mike Campbell and David Hidalgo backing him up, on the Together Through Lifetour. Even the first concert I was ever invited to go to – Foreigner in 1982 – was a no-go … meaning I missed my chance to hear “Feels Like the First Time” during my first time at a rock concert.

The most recent show to add to this category is one that I actually had tickets to and went downtown to see: The Gossip, who were slated to play at the Majestic on Tuesday, October 2. I assume they played. I don’t know.

My older daughter and I had cooled our heels for an hour when the doors didn’t open at 7:00 p.m. as promised. After another hour standing in the tiny cafe-cum-performance space (the result of downsizing from the main stage, perhaps because they didn’t sell well), we saw band members from the first of two opening acts still folding t-shirts and burning CDs to sell at the merch table. As of 9:00 p.m., The Gossip’s lead singer Beth Ditto was walking through the sparse audience, posing for photos and, uh, gossiping with fans with no indication that they or any other band was taking the stage any time soon.

It was a school night; my daughter and I were exhausted; she had homework and I had a meeting in the morning. So we split.

(I have to hand it to the Fueled by Ramen concert production team: they kept the trains running on time. Three opening acts would take the stage one after the other starting at 7:00 p.m. sharp, each playing for exactly 30 minutes with a 15-minute changeover. By the time the main attraction hit the stage, you knew it was 9:15 without even looking at your watch.)

We had really looked forward to seeing The Gossip, which my daughter and I discovered together via their first couple of albums. Beth Ditto is something of a gay icon: a plus-size young lesbian with a take-no-prisoners voice and a penchant for stripping to her underwear when in the throes of a performance. A large percentage of the audience at the Majestic was out and proud,  a wistful reminder of our days living near the Castro in San Francisco where, as a drag queen friend of mine observed, “Every day is Halloween.”

Some would say the creative process can’t be rushed and if you can’t stay out late, that’s your problem, not the band’s. But they owed us a show starting at 8:00 and they failed to deliver. In Commando, Johnny Ramone’s posthumously published autobiography, he griped about his bandmates’ occasionally lousy work ethic. He only missed a couple of gigs in his life: once due to appendicitis and another because he had been assaulted and suffered brain damage. According to him, all the other Ramones shows started at the time printed on the poster.

The drive home from the venue was quiet, the air heavy with weary disappointment. My daughter felt bad, having given me the tickets as a birthday present. I felt horribly square, wondering how many more concerts I have left in me if I can barely stay up past 10. Then again, I slept more soundly that night than I have in months, perhaps the best birthday gift I could have received this year.

Here’s a glimpse of what we think we may have missed:

See you on the flip side …

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