Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Brokeback Meatheads, Cognitive Dissonance and Linkin Park

I’ve been thinking about writing a lot lately, or, more appropriately, thinking a lot about writing. Why I haven’t been doing it, whether I can think of anything to say, whether I can ever learn to spin the kinds of sentences that seem to pack every Doctor Who episode. Seriously, I have never figured out how to use timey-wimey or wibbly-wobbly in a sentence in such a way that no one would want to slap me. I suspect that this is still the case. So, after all my cogitating (also known as wasting time) what did I decide to write about? Nothing. Not a damn thing. Seriously. If we’re using the “shit or get off the pot” analogy, I just cracked the newspaper and settled in.

And then Monday night rolled around.

Dana and I left work early, packed a cooler with the last of our canned beer from the weekend’s redneck party and headed down to Chula Vista (epic, I know) for the Incubus/Linkin Park show. I was going to say Coors Amphitheater, but I know it’s Cricket Wireless Amphitheater and frankly, until it becomes the Shake Weight Center, I’m not sure I care.

This is where I saw things. I mean it, man. I saw things. Things that I don’t have the credit limit to drink away.

From here on out, this is going to be a bit of a concert/crowd review. Sorry.

We went for food while Mute Math was on. They sounded good, though far too Phish-y for my taste. Also, there’s just something sad about a band rocking the living hell out of a venue when no one is paying attention. But we enjoyed what we could of their short set, assuming that in a smaller venue, with more time, and more weed, frankly, they would do better.

When the set ended, the big screen over the stage came on and started playing interviews with Chester and Mike from Linkin Park. It took me a minute to realize that it was actually a Honda commercial. Then it repeated. And repeated. And repeated. And…you get it. This little two and a half minute segment with the two of them prattling on about how they’ve partnered with Honda to create a sustainable tour and offset the emissions of the vehicles that can’t burn anything but dinosaurs. I think they’re planting a tree and releasing a baby fox for every angsty yowl that Chester belts out instead of just yelling “FUCK!” like he wants to. Get ready for the rabid, starving baby fox invasion, folks. Head shots. Remember that. Head shots.
The other topic of conversation had to do with how crazy it was that both Linkin Park and Incubus are from “like five minutes apart” and they’ve NEVER toured together. Can you believe it? Me neither? Wait, was I supposed to care?

Anyway, the lawn filled up and Incubus eventually came on. After the massive, and I mean galactically scaled clusterfuck that was our last attempt to see them live, it was nice to have comfy chair to sit in and listen to the show from start to finish. Granted, it would have been nicer if we could have seen something other than meathead’s asses. And this is where it gets interesting.

I’ve told the story over the years about the guy at the Pink Floyd show I went to in high school. He was drunk as hell and running around hi-fiving everyone he could reach until the lights went down, when he promptly passed out. They played for an hour or so and took an intermission. The lights came on, he woke up, vomited all over himself and passed back out. He woke up during the last song of the encore and his buddies had to explain that he’d missed it. It was awesome.

I told that story to tell this one. In front of us on the lawn was a classic group of PB Bar and Grill meatheads. One shirtless, all wearing matching Abercrombie cargos and big fuck-off Spy sunglass knockoffs. Except their buddy, who was huddled down in his rented lawn chair, hugging his knees like they were the last things holding him in this plane of reality. The band came on. He didn’t look up. His buddies yelled at him. He handed over his phone. They took some pictures of the stage, then of him and tossed the phone back. It bounced off his chest and hit the ground. He nearly fell out of the chair getting it back. Then back to crash position.

The band played on, and really well. Brandon Boyd’s voice has held up nicely and the band was in top form. Great stuff, if you’re free the next time they come to town.

Now, this being rock and roll, of course Brandon ended up shirtless, with all his late thirties rocker hair and groupie targeting nipples on jumbotron display for the world and this is when it happened. The meatheads realized that they were in love. Just. Can’t. Quit. You. Love. When Dana started laughing I looked down to see that two of the meatheads were dancing with each other, in that “I’m totally not gay, bro” way. They were both shirtless and were tenderly putting their sunglasses on each other. Probably to help ease the blinding pain of their newfound cosmic love. Somewhere in there Incubus actually played half a cover of Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” I like to think it’ll be their song.

Eventually, Incubus finished and we got another 30 minutes of Honda commercials.
When Linkin Park took the stage, I noticed that the arena was full now, and people really wanted them to start. It was about then that I realized I had no idea they were still recording. Now, to be fair, they sounded really good, but after a couple of songs, I found myself wanting to like them a lot more than I did. They came across as metal-lite. Sort what Kenny G is to jazz, or Justin Bieber is to people I don’t want to hit with a shovel.

I think the thing that killed it for me was when, about a third of the way in, after thrashing it up good, in a nice wholesome “you kids and your rock and roll” kind of way, Chester took a break from screaming to let us all know that he was sad the tour was ending because everyone in the other bands was “so fucking nice.” Cue screeching halt. Grinding gears. Smoking engines. Nice? NICE? You’re supposed to be angry. You’re supposed to be anti-establishment. At the very least the other guys should be “fucking awesome” or maybe “gnarly” or well any damn thing but “nice!” Jesus. Just stop and read off your recipe for vegan, gluten free tofurkey pizza while you’re at it. Oh, and thanks for also telling me you’re capping off the “most successful North American tour” you’ve ever done.

Jimmy Buffett used to do this thing where during the intermission he showed a video of him with his planes and boats and beach houses and pretty much pointed out which mortgages tonight’s show was paying. It was funny because it was so bold. It wasn’t “nice.”

Call me old fashioned, but I’m actually starting to miss the days when rock bands spent all their time between songs calling their audiences motherfuckers. If your songs involve screaming, you have an image to protect.  Telling us we’re all nice and that we’ve done a great job financing your kids’ education isn’t gonna cut it. Now go bite the head off a bat. You can get a tofu bat if you want.