Monday, July 9, 2012

World's Largest Music Festival Is No Place to See a Show

Marcus Amphitheater Summerfest
I wasn’t forced to pay $162 for a pair of obstructed view tickets that were sixty-six rows from the Marcus Amphitheater stage. I did that voluntarily. No, the tickets were not officially labeled “obstructed view.” That fact came to light when I sat down and noticed that a large iron beam cut my view of the stage down by half.  On top of that, the usher standing next to the beam took out another 20% of our view.  At times, she was joined by a second usher who managed to block the entire stage.  The band that I paid $162 to see walked on the stage and the show started. It was still light out, and 1/3 of the seats were still empty. I was at the “world’s largest music festival,” and not having fun.  It was hot, the bleachers were hard, people were talking over the music, the band looked like dots, and then it hit me. Was anyone really having fun?
Is anyone making a connection with the artists? How can they?  You can’t make a connection when what you are looking at is so far away that you cannot see facial expressions.  I’m not surrounded by people that are part of a loving collective.  They are texting, talking, eating, drinking, dancing, bumping knees to backs, sweating, and pretty much feeling what I feel. Is this it? Are we having a good time? This can’t happen from 150 yards away.  There is no connection.
When the singer of the band says something about “Milwaukee,” the crowd cheers wildly. It’s to be expected.  When the singer says something like “This is off of our new album,” the crowd starts to head for the bathrooms and beer stands. The headline act gets the best sound, lights, etc.  The opening band has to struggle even harder to get your attention. It’s an uphill battle.  Some people try to time their arrival to coincide with the opening notes to the headline band’s first song. Who was the opening act?  They might not even know.
I can’t help it.  I see too much of all that is not important at a live show, at a venue that holds 18,000 people.
For a time, I wondered if there was something wrong with me.  Why didn’t I enjoy the evening? It sure looked like everyone else did.  Well, at least it seemed like the majority of the people at this event were having fun.  After a time, I realized that I just don’t feel anything when I’m at shows of this size.  There is no intimate connection, and I shouldn’t expect one.  I would rather spend my money at a small club or theater show.  At least I would have a chance to get something out of it.  All I can say is that I was there.  No more.

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