Sunday, May 16, 2004

stalwart, hackneyed

Saturday started with me getting up later than I wanted to - as usual. I bought a Guest Overnight Parking Pass which allows me to park in a designated space in the Kent/Station Street lot. I went to work and harvested retrovirus to give to a collaborator. I decided not to run my PCR in a gel as I had planned because I had to go back home and wait for Nyryan to leave her keys in my apartment. Nyryan arrived just after noon and she drove me to Budget in Brighton Ave to pick up the car I rented for the day. Hertz just increased their price. Apparently the price of rental cars tend to fluctuate like airline prices, so I have to remember to check different places each time before renting. I got the smallest compact car they had, an Oldsmobile Alero. Of course I got an older model. Nevertheless I was very pleased to find that it had met my strict requirements - a CD player and cup holder. I then proceeded to City Sports in Comm Ave in an attempt to purchase a weight bench, which failed as they don't carry the item in their store or any other store. It wasn't a complete failure as I was able to walk away with 3 $3 t-shirts. I then went next door to Shaws and did a month's worth of grocery shopping. I particularly stacked up on: bathroom tissue, paper towels, diet pepsi twist and gatorade. I proceeded home to unload and unpack. After a quick shower I was off to Lowell for the Yes concert. Going down route 9 I passed by the Chestnut Hill Mall. Having a lot time in my hands I decided to check it out to see if they have any sports stores. They had none. It was Bloommingdales, Filenes, and other such high-class shops. So I continued on with a leisurely drive north via I-95 and route 3. I arrived at the Tsongas Arena at 6 pm, an hour before doors open. I spent the time walking around taking pictures of downtown, historic Lowell. There was even a street festival with pretty good live bands. I entered the Arena at 7 pm and checked out the Yes merchandise. Naturally, everything was overpriced so I only picked up a $30 tour t-shirt. I know it's a Rogen Dean design, but still...$30?!?! You gotta be kidding me. They didn't have what I was really looking for: a Fragile album cover t-shirt. I'll just have to get that online. My seat turned out to be good. I was in section X row 17, farthest up on the bleachers, but it was actually close to the stage on Rick Wakeman's (left) side. Pity. I would much rather have been closer to Steve Howe instead.

Yes was amazing! Second best concert I've ever been to. The best concert is still reserved for Magma at NEARfest. Anyway, the Yes show lasted a whopping 3 hours long with 1 intermission after the 1st hour and two encores. The highlight of the show for me was And You and I. I always get chills whenever I listen to that song - but hearing and seeing it live: wow. The only flaw was Wakeman's aging moog synthesizer acted up twice during it, and I got distracted in watching him struggle to fix it albeit in a professional manner. But when it worked it was orgasmic. Appropriately, the audience gave the band a long standing ovation after this. Also, they played South Side of the Sky. SOUTH SIDE OF THE SKY!!! Not many will know what that means. *sigh* They also played an acoustic set including Roundabout with a blues-shuffle that actually worked well, and Owner of a Lonely Heart which is many orders of magnitude better than the studio version. And boy, can these stalwart old geezers still play.

A few things made this concert less of a perfect concert:

1. Almost every other song they played was cheese. But this I knew coming in. But most unforgivable was Rhythm of Love, a piece I haven't heard of before (thank god) that reeked of hackneyed 80's AOR crappiness. Blah.

2. This has got to be the rudest, most inconsiderate audience I've ever seen.
a. I lot of these "so-called" fans where carrying on loud conversations during the entire show, pausing every once in a while to cry "Woooo!!!" at the band on a specific part of a song. I had two such groups within earshot of my seat: to the right of me and in front of me. I thought the idea in watching concerts is to actually "watch" a concert. This behavior was not isolated to my section but endemic to the entire audience, as you can hear them during a mellow tune or a quiet section of a song. Why must they do this? There is no sense in this. Someone please tell me....Why?!?!
b. Beer was served in plastic cups during the event and, on more than one occasion, the aforementioned beverage was spilled on the floor, on seats and on people.
c. At one point a couple seating in front of me proceeded to share a cigarette among them despite numerous signs indicating that this was a non-smoking venue. I so much wanted to knock their heads together if only for the fear of being beat up by a huge, long-haired, mustached and tattooed brute.
d. During one of the encores, a few in the section right in front of the stage threw 3 paper airplanes at the band. What the hell?!?! Are they in elementary?

3. Ritual - is it only me? or is this 30 minute epic just a tad boring and uninspired. The majority of the fans ate it up though.

4. It was a sauna. Everyone was sweating profusely, even the lead singer complained about the heat. Given the fact that Yes fans are generally fat, bald, unkempt, hippy, aging men...well, let's just say I didn't really need an olfactory experience to go with the sights and sounds of a Yes concert.

now playing: Yes - Close to the Edge

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