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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Concert, or the Night the Smallest Vests Were Large and We Weren't

Does this vest make
my butt look huge?
Pull it up on your shoulder,
dear, you're losing it.
OK, so at P. F. Chang's where our adorable server, Chad, custom-concocted a fiery sauce to our specifications, we chopsticked through a really good dinner and scooted on over to the Henderson Pavilion for our second volunteer gig as ushers. It is not common for me to struggle for the proper words to describe something I've thought or felt or experienced, but I'll have to dig hard this time. This evening was kind of surreal in ways. Not at all like the afternoon we ushered families to their seats for the live play, The Wizard of Oz. I wish I'd done a little online research before the concert, to learn more about Yellow Brick Road. Then I'd have known they were a local iconic cover band and we were going to be in the midst of an event of epic proportion. I'd have known the lead singer, Brody (age about 15 by appearance), was "retiring" after 14 years of leading the band and this was his last performance. Women wept. T-shirts sold like hotcakes. The Pavilion sold out to its biggest crowd ever, with 3,300 in the seats and 700 on the lawn. My comment that there didn't appear to be enough Security should have earned me a free ticket to a future show! "You two are old hands at this, I want you down in front, stage right," exclaimed the volunteer coordinator. I'd have preferred the word "veterans", but it's nice to be recognized. "I've got tough news," she continued. "All the vests are enormous tonight. Sorry!" Boy, howdy.

Picture a big old dumb hound that doesn't get to leave the yard much. Picture him taken out on a leash to an event packed with smells, noise, color, people . . like that hound, I took in the night with all my senses. From flowing beer to wafting pot, from women who should know better but dressed that way anyway, from hard-working event staff to some slightly cowardly Security, I fairly consumed all there was to be had from that evening. Had I a tail, I'd have wagged it! Science question: Why, if my body was going to complain so badly within 24 hours, did it even allow me to sprint up and down those stadium stairs so many times? I was a sprite! Now I am not. I moved wheelchairs and jumped into a fight I had no business taking on. I worked my friend, the security guard, into allowing me onto the stage, much to Brody's surprise, though he didn't miss a note.  Disclaimer: All pictures and video taken in poor lighting conditions on a cell phone by a woman who was also working. However, if the words appeal, some of them may be worth mashing one's nose up on the monitor to see. Click on any photo to see it larger, but still poorly. Double size the video for perhaps a better view.

Click for insider
shirt caption!
I'm pretty fascinated by the staging of a show. I have no knowledge of it, though Jenn has a degree and many years experience. Twice she has commented that were she producing the show, the sets would have been ready long before curtain time and tested twice. That doesn't seem to be the way at The Pavilion, a bevy of activity right up until the last moment and sometimes a rather late curtain. I asked questions a mile a minute. We'd already seen all the band and orchestra instruments, music stands ready, piano taken through a dry run. Now they were moved backstage in a jumble, a really ugly curtain dropped, what appeared to be paint dropcloths placed and duct taped to the floor and paint buckets brought out. "WTF, Jenn?" She had no idea. When the stage crew rolled out the gigantic bell in bumblebee colors, I raised my eyebrow at her. Still no idea. So we simply watched, like everyone else. For a good sound venue as to the concert music and play dialog, the Pavilion lacks a lot in quality of the announcements mike. The opening act was announced without fanfare - just his name, which I missed. He defied description.

He stepped out onto the stage and yelled into that mike in a very loud voice. The mike distorted every sound and his French accent was thick enough to require a machete for cutting. He stood before his gigantic bell, throwing up both arms now and again, to much cheering. Ah. And the bell tolled. We looked at each other. "What?" "What?" "What the hell?" I felt some relief that Jenn didn't understand it, either, and she is much younger than I. Let's see. How to tell it? In words? Frenchy had a bad collection of very poorly recorded music and a collection of pretty remarkable dancers if they were still in middle school. In costumes one couldn't quite mesh with the music, the dancers worked their asses off, the music thundered, and Frenchy . . . got into the paint buckets with his hands, rendering some pretty credible likenesses of Hendrix and other rockers. With each number, Frenchy got more worked up, flinging paint from his fingers at each completed canvas, hollering louder but still incomprehensibly. Ultimately, he slipped on the paint and fell - hey! It was wet up there. He ended his show with a frantic rendering of Led Zeppelin on the curtain. Alas, I cannot name the icon he painted on the gigantic bumblebee bell, but said rocker sported a big old helmet like Brunnhilde in the opera. It is my opinion that Frenchy

video video video
Video # 1 - Yep, me (voice only) directing a patron to row RR. Hey, I sound as good as Frenchy.
Video # 2 - Frenchy's Dancing Queens.
Video #3 - Frenchy's Hendrix painted by his bare hands on a spinning platform.

Frenchy gets his Led Zep on to close the opening act!

OK, we tolerated that for a good long while, directing folks to restrooms, concessions stands, lawn chairs and more. We grinned, we chuckled and we guffawed. We asked one another over and over and over again, "Why?" I still don't know the answer. I only know the first act is over and I'll serve up an intermission before the headliner comes on.

Yet to come:
  • Les jumps into the fray during a fracas, but manages to avoid the tampon fight in the womens restroom (yes, really).
  • Les impresses the Security Captain as "being someone" so the Captain consults her on everything for the rest of the night.
  • Les works herself onstage to the surprise of the lead singer.

7 comments:

  1. Sorry, Leslie, but those videos are too small for me to make out what's happening. I this band performing what back in the day was called "glitter rock"?

    Anyway, it sounds like you had a good time, even if you had to work.

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  2. @ Kirk ~ Oh, no my friend, Frenchy doesn't even deserve that designation. He's a fingerpainter who paints and plays poorly recorded music while VERY young people dance around and none of that fits together in any cohesive presentation.

    I had fun because I had a whole evening of learning new stuff, which matters a great deal to me. But not a traditional "good time". Just weird.

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  3. At that divey little bar quite the trip from my house I was telling you about, once a painter set up an easel next to the stage and started to paint, apparently inspired by the live music. I kept waiting to be impressed, but was both disappointed and a little embarassed for him. It looks like Frenchy may have been actually fairly talented, albeit weird?

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  4. @ CramCake ~ Hey, you did that WELL, and I'm confident I'd divulged nothing about the opening act to you privately. Embarrassed for him? Hm..m ~ not sure. I used to suffer vicariously and painfully on behalf of other people. I'm working more on myself now. Plenty to be embarrassed about for a decade or two and then it won't matter because I'll be drooling and nearing the end. Maybe.

    He was an impressive finger painter, without doubt. He worked frenetically at something I never did figure out, as I've proven poor at finding the hidden object in a mass of image. Finally, Jenn said, "I think it's Bob Marley, upside down!" Soon enough, Frenchy flipped that canvas and it was the reggae man. Done very well.

    Best way I can describe the missing link: sometimes in international travel, you come upon someone or a group who wants, desperately, to be an American rocker(s). Man, they've seen the videos and TV, and heard the music. But when they put it together, sometimes they've missed the oddest little thing, or don't have access to it. So no American is ever going to be fooled for a moment. Perhaps Frenchy thought poor sound would be OK because his painting would dazzle. And it did - to an extent. I'm sure he thought those dancers were something. And they were - I'm just not certain WHAT they were. But he COULD paint.

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  5. I know I read this post but coukdn't recall why I hadn't commented - until I read "Les works herself onstage to the surprise of the lead singer".

    :)

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  6. Excuse the typo I missed in that last comment.....

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  7. @ Rachel ~ And life has been progressing at such a speed, I haven't had a moment to present Chapter 2. But I will. Hey, it couldn't have been that long! The bruises from the fight are still pretty vivid on me.

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