I Hope You Know That This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record
The Violent Femmes played Raleigh this week-end, and of course I went. I spent countless hours as a teenager listening to their first album. On casette tape, of course, so that it subsequently started sounding like the band was playing underwater on some of the songs, and then the tape finally just broke. We would play their music on the band bus (oh yes, the band bus), and many times my own personal judge of character of somebody I had just met was whether they liked the Femmes or not. Needless to say, my husband is a fan. I don't know if he wore out his casette tape playing it or not, but he knows the lyrics to some of their more obscure songs, so he passes the test.
The concert was free, and held in downtown Raleigh at a tiny park in the middle of the bar/restaurant/art gallery/trendy junk shop district. Let me preface my review of the concert with this: I am old. I'm convinced of this fact for several reasons.
First, I don't really enjoy drinking cheap, overpriced beer. I mean, $4 per can isn't THAT bad, by concert standards, but after one can of Bud Light I'm ready to just give up on drinking for the night. Also, they used this stupid ticket system, which means you have to wait in line to buy a ticket, then wait in line to trade your ticket for a beer. This means that you buy a bunch of tickets intending to trade them in later, but then if you don't want any more to drink, the bastards running the concert get to keep your money. Yeah, we drank ALL of the beers. No unused tickets for us! Looking around, I saw that most people also used all of their tickets. Many, many, tickets.
Second, I don't like crowds. It seemed like most people around me were basically OK with standing around shoulder-to-shoulder. This could have more to do with redeeming all of their tickets than with their age, I'm not sure. All I know is that I was hot (it was 95 degrees and humid with no breeze, even at 9 at night) and people kept shoving through us. Why in God's name can't people just stand the fuck still when the band is playing?? I mean, send one person to go get beer, there is no need for all seven of you to come shoving through everybody in a bizarre, rude, conga line.
This was not helped by the lesbian couple next to us, who decided to bring their children along, ages 12 and 8. The 12-year-old seemed OK, bobbing her head along to the music, smiling, trying not to acknowledge the drunk men next to her that were perving on her something fierce by the end of the set. The 8-year-old was NOT happy, and looked like he was going to throw up at any minute. Thankfully, he held off. He was practically laying down on the ground though, which meant that his mothers had the job of making sure he didn't get stepped on. They proceeded to direct traffic around him, which made some people get a little unruly. At which point, one of them would threaten to kick his/her ass, and the unruly person would walk away. We were pretty thankful for the "walking away" part, although generally it was more like "walking around the crazy lesbian and then shoving whoever else happens to be in the way (usually me or Nikki)."
That being said, the Violent Femmes still rock my world. They are good at what they do, which is more than I can say for other artists that are currently played on Top 40 (although I listen to less and less of that, to be sure), and they are still very odd. They played Country Death Song, which is a dark and ironic choice being that they were fairly close to being in the Appalachians. We sang along and looked around, expecting outrage. All we got was drunken revelry, and somebody behind us shouting FREEBIRD about 25 times throughout the course of the set. The set was much to short, of course, but hey - the price was right.