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Saturday, October 13, 2012

When Good Concerts Go Bad, Fiona Apple, Wellmont Theatre, 10.12.12

This is waaayyyy too far away to see Fiona Apple

She is still super thin, and has some Madonna-esque definition in her arms.

Her voice, and band were both strong.  She commands the stage and is most comfortable there.  No, it's not the hash!
When Friday night rolls around a few slices of pizza, bad tv and the couch can be heavenly.  The weeks are difficult and I know I/we are not alone.  There is work, parenting, coaching, trying to avoid election coverage, eating, sleeping among other things.  Finding money for entertainment is one thing.  Finding the time to go enjoy said entertainment is most certainly another.

We catch a fair amount of shows, not enough movies and an embarrassingly small amount of museums over the course of a year.  Weekends are spent pursuing excitement and relaxation.  More often than not they end up an exercise in housework and menial chores.  It is why Friday nights are coveted evenings of decompression and abject disinterest.

A Tuesday concert really is not that awful.  For the most part your body and mind are turned on.  You will more than likely get to sleep around midnight regardless.  Wednesday's alarm clock will go off whether you go out the night before or not.  In other words, Wednesday is gonna suck concert or no concert.

It was with some trepidation we decided on a Friday night show.  And not because Ms Apple is unworthy.  The poster child of 90s heroin chic and pretty darn accomplished singer/songwriter/pianist
Apple is certainly worthy.  Is she $50 a ticket at Wellmont in Montclair worthy?

Answer:  Unsure.

This blog pays nothing but the joy of writing it and, hopefully, you reading it.

Naturally I thought that ticket would get me on the floor.  We have all become pretty accustomed to being near the stage.  Take a look at some recent posts for my usual view M83Naked and The Famous or White Rabbits .  Those pics are from the World's worst camera phone. Thanks for nothing Droid!

$50 a ticket is steep.  Especially for a New Jersey show.  And more specifically for a general admission theatre ticket.  Wellmont is a redesigned 1922 movie theatre.  Large netting covers the art deco ceiling in an attempt to shield its patrons from falling plaster.  The stage is a nice size and the sound is pretty darn good.  It is not however the Beacon Theatre or Radio City.  It's swell that it is not on the other  side of the Hudson.  It's amazing how crossing through the tunnel, just a few miles from Wellmont/Montclair, affects a trip.  5 minutes of City driving can be enough to put you in a foul mood. Couple that with any Jersey driving, all of which DOES put you in a foul mood...  and you get the drift.

After arriving at 9 on the nose we headed to our usual spot (right stage side on the floor.)  After another shit week we deserved some cocktails.  Excuse us for missing the opening act.  Sometimes you need a little fried food and spirits.  But, besides staying thirsty my friends, act responsibly.  When we showed our stubs to the usher he politely said "Oh, you are upstairs."

"Huh?" was probably my response.

Apparently our tickets were General Admission "Balcony."  The balcony has seats, as opposed to the standing room only floor section.  The GA seats were first come first serve.

First things first.  The Wellmont is much bigger than I thought.  We ended up about 10 stories high and fully able to smell the very plaster that threatens to fall.  $50??  For this.

Ms Apple took the stage about a minute after we sat down.  She looked skinny.  In fact, she literally looked like a toothpick from our viewpoint.

Her band started playing the wonderful  Fast As You Can, we think.  Cause we could not hear much.

$50?  For this?

No, this is a $20 seat you pick up on the spur of the moment.  At $50 your seat should be assigned.  That was the only GA ticket available at point of purchase and nowhere did it say we would be responsible for dusting the ceiling.

But perhaps worse than that nonsense was the obnoxious crowd that surrounded us.

First we had to climb over 20 something make out crew.  We are not talking lovers embrace and mild kissing either.  This was full on, kissing like 7th graders in the closet of a house party, not coming up for air, off to war not seeing you for a while, make out crew.  At a Fiona Apple concert???!!!

"Excuse me. can you stop violating her kidneys with your tongue and let us through?"  They did, grudgingly.

During Shadowboxer, when others around us started chattering and talking over Apple's ballad.  It was clear things were not going to get better.

Bad view, bad sound and a crowd unwilling to give the artist a modicum of respect.

It all went terribly wrong so fast.  We climbed over the make out crew again and headed downstairs.  Picture the yodeling hiker on that The Price is Right game when you think of our ascent/descent to our seats.  It was up there!  And we did not get a parting gift for getting there!

Pawn Stars and spending the night with our daughter was being sacrificed for this?  And the baseball???  The glorious baseball playoffs that we could have been watching.

And this isn't a knock on dear, sweet Fiona Apple.

We got to the floor (kinda) after alerting the head usher of our dilemma.

"Yeah, they should be on the floor, let em in," he hollered to his underlings once we made it downstairs.

Too little, too late.  The floor was mobbed, we were aggravated, and the crowd at the backbar was as annoying as the folks upstairs.

But we managed to hear some songs as she intended, notably "Werewolf" from her latest LP, the impossibly titled The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.  She is strong in voice, piano, stage presence and material.  A good show and pleasant experience was in there somewhere, probably for all those within ear/eyeshot of the concert they paid good money for.

Maybe another time, at another venue, we will be able to buy whatever she is selling.  For now a certain bitterness fills the air.  

An incomplete grade on an event that held such lofty expectations makes for a piss poor start to the weekend.

Thankfully the next show is on a Tuesday.  You hear that Miike Snow??!!  The pressure is on.

For a legitimate review please take a look at Tris McCall's take here: Tris McCall Star Ledger Fiona Apple review

She plays the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ and Terminal 5 in NYC.  Go get yours should you dare.

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