I’m Not A Fan

I figured I should write this up since it’s been bouncing around in my brain for ages.

I like music a lot, and there are plenty of artists I like, appreciate, admire and love. But I really don’t consider myself a “fan”.

A whole while ago I had a ticket to go see Cat Power play a concert at a small theatre at the local university. There were two shows, and I think they were two hours apart – my ticket was for the 5:00pm show (I might be paraphrasing the actual time).

It was general admission, so I showed up semi-early to get a good seat.

Then I decided that standing in line with a bunch of smoking collage kids was silly so I went and waited at a coffee shop and came back about half an hour before the show. I assumed the doors would be open by then. They weren’t.

At 5:00pm, the doors were still not open. I asked other people in line if they knew what was going on, but nobody knew. Eventually I walked up to the doors and knocked until someone bothered coming out and telling us that the show was delayed and they wouldn’t be letting people in till 6:30pm.

At this point I asked if anyone wanted a free ticket, gave mine to the first person who didn’t think I was joking, and went home.

When I got home I thought it might be a good idea to post something to a local online forum to let people who might have tickets for the 8:00pm show know that there is no way that thing is starting on time. I did post that there was a huge huge delay, that the people running the theatre didn’t bother coming out and explaining anything and were content to let us all wait out in the rain.

Some people asked how come I hadn’t waited. I explained that I actually had stuff to do that day, and that standing outside in the rain with a bunch of people who were already pretty drunk and smoking all over the place was just not something I’m willing to do just to see a Cat Power concert.

People just couldn’t understand the reasoning and basically a flame-war erupted where people were giving me crap for leaving. One person commented (again, paraphrasing) that “…isn’t it funny how a little rain separates the TRUE fans from the wannabes?”

That’s really when it struck me – no, I’m not a fan.

The word “fan” is derived, for good reason, from the word “fanatic”. “Fans” are the people who buy every single album – including reissues, different versions of the same album, Japanese imports, whatever. They’re the ones who go to every single show. The ones who WILL wait out in the rain, the snow, the heat, whatever. The ones who scream when the show starts.

That’s just not me.

Here’s an example – there are not a lot of musicians I admire as much as Mark Knopfler. Guy’s a genius. I keep saying that if he was born 300 years ago, people would still be listening to Wolfgang Amadeus Knopfler. That’s the extent of his genius in my book. I was really disappointed when I missed his concerts twice before I finally managed to hear about them more than 24 hours before they took place and got tickets to see him.

I was obviously very excited to see Mark Knopfler play live. Sadly, the concert itself was a let-down.

Did I ever write about how one of my pet peeves at concerts is that they’re just too loud? Well, this one was too loud. And the venue Mark Knopfler plays at when he’s in town has some serious sound problems. Unless you’re sitting at a very narrow sweet spot, the sound will be horrible. The seats I had at that concert, some of the time all you could here was – and I’m serious about this – white noise.

Not music, not even painfully loud music, just the SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHFFFFFFFF of white noise. No recognisable musical note whatsoever.

I assumed that was accidental – nobody could want the sound to be that bad, right? So I went to see Mark Knopfler the next time he was in town and the same thing happened. That time I actually complained, which is how I found out about the sweet spot.

The last time I saw Mark Knopfler I got seats that I thought were near enough to the sweet spot… but they weren’t. Plus it was just… painfully loud.

(The whole loudness is a totally different topic, I suppose, but I will say that yes, people have suggested I take ear plugs to concerts. Which just boggles my mind. Why on EARTH would I go to a MUSIC CONCERT if I can’t HEAR THE MUSIC? I already know what Mark Knopfler looks like, I’m not there to LOOK at him. I’m there to hear him play the damn guitar. But anyway).

Last year when Mark Knofpler was once again touring and playing a local show, I didn’t bother trying to get tickets. I figure it’s just too much of a gamble.

The other night, K called me a “fanboy” just because I went to a craft store, got some iron-on letters and made a slogan-shirt which I wore to a Nellie McKay concert. I don’t really think that makes me a fanboy. I mean if I had no reason whatsoever to think that she’d see it, maybe. But there was a pretty good chance she would (she tends to stay around after the show to chat/sign autographs/pose for photos for my other blog). And really me doing something weird on the off-chance that it’ll entertain one single person isn’t really new. Heck, this isn’t even the first time I made a t-shirt for that purpose. The fact that it DID entertain Nellie McKay is definitely a plus. But that’s another point – she actually takes the time and makes the effort to interact with people, even weird people with silly action figures, so she deserves the extra effort (plus I learned how to iron-on patches. Ok, I learned that I’m bad at it).

Alright, I think that’s enough tangents for one night. Honestly I think I’m still a bit wired from the three cups of tea I had at Nellie’s concert (yes, that’s what heavy drinking at a concert is around here – tea.) To summarise: I love music and I’m ever so grateful and appreciative to the wonderful artists who make it. But seriously, I’m not going to stand outside in the rain or suffer through enough noise that it makes me want to pass out just so I can say I’ve been there.

Oh, also, if you guys could stop trying to sell $50 t-shirts at your concerts, that’d be cool. I happen to know for a fact that iron-on letters cost like $3.

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