I saw No Country For Old Men the other night. What struck me most was the lack of music within the film. The sound was as arid and sparse as the landscape portrayed on screen. And the scarcity provided greater suspense than any aptly placed timpani hit or string section crescendo. The images, the characters, and the dialog had no cushion beneath them, nothing to soften the harshness they portrayed, giving each scene a brittle and sometimes disturbing clarity. Though I love the marriage of film and music, seeing a movie that was the sonic equivalent of a faint, distant knocking, came as a pleasant, albeit uneasy, respite.
I also went to three shows this past weekend and I don't think I've done that since I was twenty-two, which was nearly 100 years ago. Since I've gotten older, and probably for the last five years, my relationship trajectory with live shows goes something like this:
1. See listing in local paper or hear about a show from a friend.
2. Think about going to the show, maybe even put it on my calendar.
3. Start listening to the band's music in anticipation of the show.
4. When people ask me what I am doing that night, say that I am going to the show. I am not lying—in my mind, I am really going to the show.
5. Feel tired the day of show and check out what movies are playing.
6. The night of the show, look at the clock and think about what is happening at the show at that very moment.
7. Rent a movie.
8. Sometime in the next week, hear about the show from someone who went.
9. Tell myself I will see the band next time.
10. Find a new show to plan on seeing.
On Saturday I saw Emily Jane White. Upon first hearing her sing you will think of Cat Power or Jolie Holland. It's good to get that thought out of the way. I found her less soulful than Cat Power and more Southern Gothic than Holland. And she has her own thing as well that I would describe as haunted folk.
I don't like reviewing shows. When I see live music, I often find myself drawn to other aspects than the music itself (and this is not due to a lack of magic on the band's part). So, here is what else was happening at the shows I attended:
I could not believe how long the middle band played at the Emily Jane White show. It was one of those instances where they clearly had a lot of friends in the audience and were therefore pretending that the show was taking place in their living room. The band insisted on bringing their own PA, apparently due to the uniqueness of their sound. Get this: they had a cello! With the house sound person rendered useless, and wanting nothing to do with this band, there was no one to fix the searing feedback that the cellist made each time she hit a high note. It made for a lovely hour and a half. When they were done, they took thirty minutes to get their gear off stage. At one point, I heard a drum fall and assumed it was Emily White's drummer setting up. No, it was the middle band's drummer finally taking his gear down. He had been hanging with his friends outside, oblivious to the fact that they weren't headlining. This brand of rudeness always seeps into the next set, but fortunately, EJW's music made up for it.
On Friday I saw a friend's band play at a club called Dante's. There were more human seatbelts in that audience than at any show I'd been to in a long time. A human seatbelt is when one person comes up from behind and wraps their arms lovingly (possessively) around the person in front of them. The human seatbelt is often accompanied by a slow swaying.
Personally, I never buckle up at a show.
Enjoy your day.