Entry 666: The Merch of Time

Recently my wife and I went to see one of our favorite bands that you’ve never heard of. It’s Delta Rae, you can listen to them here, and if you ever get a chance to see them live, they put on a great show.

But this post isn’t about them.

It’s about their opening act. Well, not their opening act, but opening acts in general, and an epiphany I had about them that night at the Delta Rae concert:

I’m too old for opening acts.

At my age, when I buy tickets for an eight o’clock show, I’m perfectly happy if the performers I purchased tickets to see come on stage about 8 o’clock, play for an hour and a half, return for the obligatory encore, and end by 9:45 so I can be home in bed by 10:30 which, if I’m being honest, is already well past my usual bedtime.

In fact, I could even live without the encore. What’s that all about anyway? Why do acts do that? Everybody knows they’re going to come back out, especially since they haven’t played one of their big hits yet. Why do they make the audience beg for it? Just include that song with the set and eliminate the 10 minutes of beseeching applause. It’s getting late, damn it! Plus, the people in front of me might not sit back down, and I’ll have to stand through the whole encore, which almost always includes one song you’re supposed to clap along with, or bop to, and I don’t have any sense of rhythm whatsoever, so I look ridiculous trying to do either.

Where was I? Right–the opening act.

So we get to the theater at eight, even though we know there’s an opening act and even though I know I don’t like the opening act because I listened to her online.  This perverse punctuality is the result of a genetic mutation or something that almost literally prevents me from being late for anything. For me, being “fashionably late” means being only five minutes early.

I understand why they have opening acts, at least traditionally. It was a way for new artists to reach an audience. And I actually have bought the music of quite a few people I originally saw as opening acts. I even remember, back in the early 70’s, seeing James Taylor at Madison Square Garden and one of the opening acts was Carole King!

But that was so far away.

There’s really no reason for opening acts now. New artists have no trouble reaching audiences and creating huge fan bases through Spotify and various social media. If the main act’s record company wants to introduce a new band, they could just print “And So-and-So recommends Up-and-coming so-and-so” on the ticket, and fans could go online and listen at their leisure which, in the case of the Delta Rae concert, I did, and didn’t like the music, and showed up on time to see her anyway because of my aforementioned affliction.

So there we were, in our seats by eight o’clock, sitting though an opening act who not only played music I don’t particularly care for, but insisted on telling stories (all of which seem to involve alcoholic beverages) between each song. She also interrupted herself two or three times with commercials to “come on out and meet me at the merch table in the lobby” where she’d be happy to sign her CD for you in case she ever becomes famous.

Okay, so she finally plays her last number and acknowledges the half-hearted round of applause, which may be in appreciation of her finishing rather than her singing, and I head out to the bathroom. Then I get back to my seat, bottle of water in hand, and join the rest of the audience in reading email on my phone while the roadies set up for the main act.

Here’s a pet peeve. If the opening act is one or two people with guitars at the front of the stage, why does it take the roadies a half hour or more to set up for the headliners when the opening act is done? I mean, all the instruments have been right there all along, behind the “special guests.” They had to already have set up everything earlier for the sound check. So what has the woman with the guitar done to upset the delicate arrangement of instruments and microphones and amplifiers so that it takes so much time to set everything up again? Plus, because of that bottle of water I purchased at the beginning of intermission, by the time the crew is just about done, I have to go to the bathroom again.

You may remember I mentioned at the start of this post that I am old.

So it’s 9:15 by the time the people we came to see appear on stage, and they do their hour and a half set, plus the ten minutes of begging in the dark so they’ll come back for the encore, replete with my awkward and clueless bopping, and instead of being in bed by 10:30, I’m first leaving the theater at 10:45.

All because of the freakin’ opening act.

See you soon.

P.S. In case the concert ad above got you wondering who Jo Mama was and where you can hear her music, you should know that Jo Mama wasn’t a “her,” it was a “they”–a band consisting mostly of musicians and girlfriends and spouses who were on the tour anyway. And, by the way, check out those ticket prices!

P.P.S. In case the concert ad above got you wondering what the hell “Joshua Color Video Magnification” was, you should know that it was not a band, but rather a precursor to jumbotron screens.

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2 Responses to Entry 666: The Merch of Time

  1. stillagoddess says:

    Well at MY age, when I buy tickets for an eight o’clock show, I only buy first row mezzanine, because the people in front of me stand up for THE OPENING ACT and then NEVER sit down until AFTER the encore, something that wasn’t even considered polite during the 70s. And while you are very generous to call it “bopping” I call it “gyrating one’s middle aged ass,” and I didn’t pay my hard-earned money to see it. I could stay home and look in the mirror. As far as I’m concerned, from 1st row mezzanine, even Yao Ming is free to gyrate in front of me…30′ below. PLUS, we can put our feet up. Or our beers. Or maybe I’m just too old to be going to see Jimmy Buffet, or Todd Rundgren–though they seem to be just young enough to keep rockin’.

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