The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice Of The Capital Region

Disillusioned and daydreaming

I've been to a fair number of shows for someone my age. One day when I'm sufficiently bored and have lots of papers to put off maybe I'll make a list. Some of the excitement of seeing bands I can barely afford is wearing off.

I used to always dream of road-tripping to Chicago for Lollapalooza or down to Tennessee for Bonnaroo, which always fell on my birthday. From age 15 or so, I spent months each year trying to convince my parents to let me go to these Woodstock wannabe shows. I would wait anxiously for the lineups to be published. I'd do the calculations for the amount of gas it would take to make it to the festival and try to find cohorts.

Unsurprisingly, we never made it to the giant music festivals. Now that I'm a little older, I don't think I could bring myself to spend that much money on a concert - That's two semesters worth of books! Now, all I see is a corporatized Woodstock copy-cat, a breeding grounds for hipsters dressed up like Native Americans.

You see, I've been spoiled by small local venues like Caffe Lena in Saratoga and Northern Lights (Upstate Concert Hall) in Clifton Park. The grimy bar in a Clifton Park strip mall is a relatively tight space, which means you can get as close as you're willing to fight for.

Early on in my concert career, I found a safe middle ground and stayed around the edges of the crowd. Eventually I worked up my courage and pushed up to the stage. At 16, I experienced what it felt like to have a grown man dropped on top of my head - It isn't pleasant. From that point on I've been super-aware of crowd-surfers and feel it's my duty to be on guard for concert newbies around me.

Browsing through lackluster event calendars of local concert venues, I find myself daydreaming what concerts I would actually like to see. A concert unrestricted by price or reality - for many of my favorite artists are no longer living. Imagine sitting at a rickety table in a dark smoky backroom with Janis Joplin onstage singing about Bobby McGee and a Mercedes Benz. She'd be tearing away at her guitar, whipping her long hair with eyes closed. I'd take that over Bonnarroo any day.

Lately, Elliot Smith has been lulling me to sleep while I should be reading Machiavelli for my Political Thought class. I can picture it now - Smith sitting on a stool picking away at his guitar in Caffe Lena. I'd pay $15 tops, get free coffee and avoid having a grown man dropped on my head. I'd travel back to the sixties and see Bob Dylan perform at Caffe Lena. I bet they didn't have a picture of him on the wall quite yet back then. I saw Dylan last summer at SPAC, needless to say he wasn't quite himself. It would be a dream to be in the same room as Dylan in his prime, singing "If not for you" or "Moonshiner." Guess I'll have to keep dreaming.

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