6/6/08

We Are Youg Despite The Years

..well, sort of.
R.E.M. and Modest Mouse, Excel Center, St. Paul MN~6/5/08

Gravid, was my head last night. Rumination abound; equal parts celebration, reflection,...and speculation. I sit here now-ready to put pen to paper...er, fingers to keyboard-and of course, it all evaporates. I'll give it a shot anyway...

Scored sweet seats, last minute style, for about half the face value, thanks to a little website I like to call Craig's List. Ever heard of it? Got to the Excel late enough to miss the opening band (thankfully), but early enough to grab some beers before Modest Mouse. About a quarter of the seats were empty. Modest Mouse played a near hour long set. Pretty standard and fairly uninspired. I don't blame them. It seemed the majority of those in attendance had no clue who these guys were. Also, it probably didn't help that the stage is like a football field away from the audience. The up side-at least for me-is that they played some different songs than they have the previous times I've seen them. Despite the lame crowd and the bands recognition of said lameness, they were still entertaining and I don't hold this performance against them. It just wasn't one of their best.



You could see Isaac's giant shadow reflecting on the empty seats throughout the set. I thought that was pretty cool.



Growing up, for the most part I always liked R.E.M. My buddy Anthony Prato was from Athens or something and he was a big fan and that influenced me. Besides that my friends and I always thought Michael Stipe dressed cool. I mean they were one of the first alternative bands. Like back when it was called 'college rock' and Spin magazine was still cool. My old neighbor and good friend Brian Cressy had borrowed me Document (on cassette) and I really liked that. Still one of my favs to this day. I also had a copy, I taped from the radio, of R.E.M. performing live on Mountain Stage that, If I'm not mistaken, is the first time the band performed It's The End Of The World As We Know It. (Also, of side note, Billy Bragg and Robin Hitchcock were playing on that same concert.) Of course I, like everyone else, was annoyed by the repeated radio play of later songs like Shiny Happy People or Man On The Moon. Anyway, it wasn't actually until college that I really got into R.E.M....I remember...I was super intrigued by the guard from the BSU basketball team-Teaser Sweeney. (With a name like that, how could you not be?) He was a mass comm major like me, and phenomenal baller (unlike me.) Super entertaining to watch on the court. What made him stand out was that he was a white dude with a skater curl/mini-devil lock haircut. As a freshman in college, this dude was my idol. Anyway, I'm getting way off track here. What I'm trying to say is, this guy is probably..no wait, IS the reason I am an R.E.M. fan. I was at a party at his house once and I snuck a look at his CD collection. From that point forward I immersed myself in R.E.M's back catalogue. By the time Monster came out two years later, I was a dedicated fan. Fast forward 14 years; I'm seeing R.E.M. for the first time ever. So yes, I was excited about that. However, there couldn't have been a lamer crowd. Man, people are old. And I would suspect that most of these old-ass people are actually more recent fans. As in the last 10 years or so. The arena filled by the time R.E.M. came on stage but it never got that arena show atmosphere. If I'm going to go to a giant stadium rock show, I want that buzz of excitement t in the air. Know what I mean? When Stipe said "There is something in the air tonight" as an intro to What's the Frequency Kenneth, I thought to myself, "No there isn't." I think Stipe has ADHD or something. When he wasn't singing, he'd crouch down and fidget with the monitors-peeling tape off them and balling it up before throwing it into the audience. It reminded me of those times he'd host 120 Minutes on MTV in the early 90s and be all awkward with his cup of espresso or whathaveyou. Although they played predominantly newer songs (again, as in the 10 to 14 years), they did do a number of older tunes that I enjoyed. My theory that most of these fans were recent converts seemed to be proven true as the biggest pops of the night were for material post Adventures in High Fi. In fact people seemed to be bewildered by songs like These Days (from which a lyric was taken for the title of this post.) All that being said, they were still pretty good and I am glad to finally have gotten to see them in concert....and Michael Stipe still knows how to dress too.






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