Show Review: ACL Taping of Phoenix (5/6)

I had been on a lucky streak of good crowds for a few shows, so it pains me to ask – Hey Austin, why do ushers have to tell you to put away your phones and shut up at a taping?!?!

Pheonix played a lovely set. Too bad I had to wait for said ushers to get out of the way to see the stage as each of the four people in front of us had to be told to put away their phones one by one. Too bad the superfangirls couldn’t stop informing each other how jealous their friends are that they are at a show they are talking through. It is an ACL Taping. Know your place and watch the show and understand how lucky you are to be there.

I promise to talk about the band after the break (followed by more ranting)…

Terry did the introductions, letting slip that Phoenix was indeed going to be a headliner at ACL 2013 for both weekends. The French Invasion took to the stage and blasted through “Entertainment”. “Lasso” was great, as were all of the hits. The instrumental “Sunskrupt” gave Thomas Mars a chance to lay down onstage, hiding behind a monitor which was also his pillow, toes tapping. It actually highlights what I love about the band, layers and beats. When touring drummer Thomas Hedlund is busy, the band is at its best. The beats come to life and blasts your face while the soothing vocals of captain singer-guy balance it all out.

This taping had the most concert like lighting. Moving beams, not as much fill light until the end of the set, even a staged encore to do two songs, “Countdown” and “Playground Love”, with just guitar and vocal, Thomas in the middle of the crowd. They finished with a reprise of “Entertainment” while Thomas walked all the way through the crowd, climbing up into the mezzanine, saying hello to the donors.

While tolerating the neighbors, I got to thinking about what has gone wrong here. Tapings were the last bastion of common decency when it comes to a show experience. After waiting in line at the RTF building, after going on the elevator ride, after grabbing three Budweisers from the table, you had a sense of tapings at the old venue as being special. Now, there isn’t the same gauntlet to run to get in, it is a lottery. That’s not so bad as it prevents suffering and cheating, but the percentage of gimme tix to friends of donors’ kids and sponsor “hey you want to go see this band you have never heard of” has started to devalue the experience. I believe that opening the upper levels for tapings is bad. It isn’t a concert, it’s the taping for a TV show. We went from being a part of a band’s history to being a seat on the Price is Right. My wife happened to be lucky enough to be on the floor, and a young lady was escorted out for recording 30 crappy seconds of the show to her phone. Why risk it? You were told. Final straw, when Mars was in the crowd to sing, no one but the bro that had been arm pumping like no tomorrow the whole set was mouthing the words. #seewhatimean

I was lucky to go to The Black Keys tapings, second to last at the old studio. I sat next to Jim Eno from Spoon. I saw some blogger friends and recognized music people. I knew the songs. Fans knew how cool it was. I also got to go to one of the first tapings at the new place, Raphael Saadiq. It was a taping where the balcony was closed and it still felt special. I was hopeful.

But after my run-in with the two “we have a right to be here” girls that wouldn’t shut up during Radiohead (FUCKING RADIOHEAD!!!) and now this, I hope to never be in the balcony again for a taping until you, yes you Austin, get your shit straight. Enough tweeting. Enough NBA Game Time. Enough texting to prove to your friends that you are so cool that you can ignore your favorite band in the smallest venue they will ever play. I hate you.

Perhaps the lottery drawings and will-call transfers should have written tests, fave songs, best albums, can you put your phone down for an hour, just to test would be audience members?


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