Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So Much Shouting, Not Much Laughter


Alright. I finally have a moment to report on the Ani Difranco show I went to Sunday night.

The title to this post sums it up well.

I knew this was a club show. I knew drunken sorority girls would be everywhere. I knew there would be talking over songs, sight blockage, screaming, pushing, etc. But I had no idea it would be so bad.

Having never seen Ani in a small club before, I had made a pact to myself that I would get there and work my way to the front and stand there the whole time. No fluids, no bathroom breaks.

But when we got in line, my husband overheard the bouncer say the first act doesn't go on until 9. It was 7. 2 hours of waiting for just the opening band in a cramped space did not sound appealing. So I opted out of my original plan.

We ended up finding a pretty good spot off to the side of the stage. If they were seats, we'd be about row 5. We were on a platform, so I could see the stage perfectly. We were surrounded by loving lesbian couples quietly caressing each other.

Right before the opening act began (which ended up being at 8:10 - husband heard wrong), a rowdy group squeezed in right in front of me. Up until that point, the row I was in had created a nice walkway for the First Avenue staff. But then this group came, cocktails in hand. They danced. And not just fun concert dancing, but get down and dirty booties in the air dancing....to a folk singer. The opening guy was a total folky. No hip hop dancing should have happened. But it did.

When they weren't dancing, they were talking -loudly. The blonde in front of me bore a striking resemblance to America's Next Top Model winner Whitney Thompson. She seemed to have the same stank attitude, as well. And I couldn't see over her hair. So I moved.

We wandered around for a bit until I saw that there was an opening down on the ramp that leads to the main floor. I took it. I was elevated so I could see perfectly. It was the perfect spot. Until Ani started.

The next thing I knew, everyone suddenly had a best friend on the main floor and continued to push and shove me throughout the entire show. I've been to plenty of rock shows at plenty of different venues and I have never experienced a more rude crowd than this.

To make matters worse, a group of drunken sorority types had gathered behind me. Once proclaimed with the utmost pride, "I'm so drunk! I can't even think straight!" She and her friends then proceeded to plan their big unveiling to Ani during the first five songs of her set. I waited for this moment with dread. Finally, during the first verse of "Smiling Underneath", out it came: "I LOVE YOU ANI!!!!!!" screamed with the shrillest choir of voices. I saw everyone around me cringe.

They continued to talk through the set. My husband told me later that most everyone had asked them to please be quiet repeatedly, to no avail. Eventually, he retired to the bar.

I waited it out until - about 10 songs in - some guy and his gals came up behind me and started, once again, having a loud conversation about everything besides the performance in front of them. Finally, to the point of frustration, I turned around and said, "some of us are trying to enjoy the show, a great place for conversation is outside." He gave me his nastiest queen look and made some remark about how "it's not that serious." He then started to repeatedly rub my shoulders and say, "it's okay sweetie, calm down." I asked him to please refrain from fucking touching me.

At the end of the song I heard him say to his gals,"she won't move." To which the girls replied, "just push her." Which he did. When I asked him again to please not touch me, he told me his friends are down on the floor and he wants to join them. I said, "his and everyone else's". He once again told me it's not that serious and then grabbed my hips and tried to move me to the side. I told him again, please do not fucking touch me. He then shoved me to the side and walked in front of me calling me a bitch, cunt, and countless other names and to not test him right now. His hand raised in the air, palm out and he continued to shove his way to the front.

All of this was happening while Ani was singing some of her more positive, everybody love each other, don't forget to have a good time songs, and I couldn't help but see the irony.

Was I being a bitch? Sure. But I had come to listen to my favorite musician perform, not hear the myriad of drunken conversations around me.

I ended up leaving early.

We walked out while Ani rocked out to "Which Side Are You On?". I was super bummed.

I won't be going to another Ani show for a very long time.

As for her set and songs I wanted to hear, well, it was also a disappointment. Maybe I see her too often. But there has been no change in her set list (barring new songs) for the past 5 years. She has 20+ albums. Hundreds of songs.

Here is what she played that I saw:

Anticipate (best version I have heard - new guy killed it on the drums)
78% Water
Modulation
Manhole
Fuel
Splinter
Nov. 4th
Names, Dates ,Times (solo)
Two Little Girls (solo)
Smiling Underneath
Present/Infant
Life Boat
Which Side Are You On (this is when I left)

A friend who was there also said she played Both Hands.

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