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Reflections from the Blitzen Trapper and Dawes concert by Jacqueline Ristola

Friday, November 04, 2011

At the start of Blitzen Trapperís set, I decided to be a radical. I remained seated for the duration of their performance (save for giving them a standing ovation at the end.) Although I was glad to rest and stay in my seat after a long day, I regret that I did. Because I decided to stand in front for the Dawes set, and it made all the difference in terms of my experience.

Actually seeing the band perform reminded me of why we go to concerts in the first place: it is the true way to listen to music. You not only hear the songs, but you literally feel it: a thumping bass line in your chest, with the sound washing over you. It only makes the lyrics more powerful. You also get to see the artists in the flesh doing something that will never be recreated again, but unique to that particular time and place. The set up, the mood, the space, and the audience (among other factors) all contribute to the performance of the artist, and that is something truly special.

And believe me, that concert was truly something special. Itís been a long time since Iíve really rocked out to a jam band, and it was exhilarating. Taylor Goldsmith was awe-inspiring in being able to hit all the right notes while reeling around the stage, and it was great to see Griffin Goldsmith actively involved in the songs and not just drumming in the background. Seeing the interaction between him and Wylie Gelber gave some insight into the bandís unity. I only wish I could have seen Tay Strathairnís fingers fly during his piano solo; that would have been something to see.

I emphasize sight again because it is so vital to a good experience for the audience. It also illustrates a continuous difficulty that can crop up at concerts: the matter of a standing vs. sitting audience. Those who decide to go to the front and stand right next to the stage also prevents many of their view of the concert. They get a better view by not only sacrificing their own seats, but the enjoyment of others behind them, effectively forcing them to either stand as well in order to see the performers, or get a lesser experience of the concert by remaining seated. Seeing performers make the music is an essential element to why we see live performances, so we all can understand why people would go up front to witness a great performance. However, until architecture or procedure functions in a way to make this problem disappear, the issue seems to plague many great shows. But I may be making a mountain out of a molehill. It was a great concert nonetheless, even if it wasnít perfect for everyone. You donít need sight to appreciate the sounds.