I went to the Wildflower Festival on Friday, whereat I saw Cowboy Mouth, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Candlebox.
I knew nothing of Cowboy Mouth before the show. Their live show is excellent. They actually won me over with their energy. Then, when they left the stage, I realized, “Y’know, I can’t actually think of any songs I heard just now that I’d ever want to hear again.” Crazy.
Toad the Wet Sprocket, meanwhile, has been on my list of live shows to get around to seeing ever since I discovered they’d re-formed and started touring about a week after they hit Chicago some time in, um, 2006 or 2007ish. They did not disappoint. Although a combination of a bit of rain that delayed the start of the show and Cowboy Mouth deciding to steal an extra ten minutes forced them to cut their set sort. It’s too bad, as they were really the highlight of my evening.
That statement is about to sound really weird.
Candlebox actually put on a damn good show. It was, objectively speaking, a better show than Toad the Wet Sprocket’s. I kind of have a scale of live shows for major bands (with “major” being a liberal term in some cases). My ground floor is Better than Ezra. I saw them in Quincy, IL at Quincy University while I was at WIU. Basically, I enjoyed the Better than Ezra show, but I got what I wanted to out of it. I’d consider seeing Better than Ezra again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to do so. Below them, then, are any number of shitty opening acts I’ve seen over the years. Slightly above BtE, meanwhile, are the Gin Blossoms, who get the upgrade because they didn’t use a drum machine.
The second-from-the-top level, meanwhile, is occupied by the Saw Doctors and Local H. I’ve never had a bad time at those shows and always look forward to the next time I’ll see any of those bands. At the very top, lest you have any doubts, are Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. In between the Gin Blossoms and Saw Doctors and Local H is a lot of gray area.
Like, I loved seeing Lucky Boys Confusion at the Double Door and Mike Doughty is great live. I originally put the Lovehammers on par with the Saw Doctors and Local H. But there needs to be a cut off. And I think the cutoff is this: how far would I drive and how many times would I go back? I’ve amply proven my desire to see RCPM and Local H over and over again and the only reason I haven’t done that with the Saw Doctors is that it’s really, really hard to get to the British Isles on a moment’s notice. I simply don’t think I’d put in quite as much effort to see the Lovehammers and Mike Doughty as I would for Local H. And that’s the cut-off.
Either way, here’s the weird thing: in terms of quality, Candlebox surprised me. They did a show that was on par with Local H. The energy was just there. The loudness, surprisingly, was there. But, in the end, my desire to see Candlebox again is pretty low. But there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll see Toad the Wet Sprocket again if the opportunity arises even though Toad’s show wasn’t quite as inspired. Quite simply, Toad has more songs that I like. As best I can tell that’s the delimiter.
Meanwhile, I took advantage of my concert expertise and was up against the barrier by the beginning of the Candlebox set. This is both a good place to be and a bad place to be. On the good, well, being in front is a positive thing. On the bad, well, everyone wants to be in front. So there’s a lot of jostling.
The over-excited drunk girl population was way higher than I would have expected. The extremely pushy, over-excited drunk girl population was also higher than in my previous experience. So on more than one occasion I ended up having some random girl pushing in to the front next to me to take pictures and dance around and be largely annoying.
Somewhere in the middle of Candlebox’s set an especially annoying variety of drunk girl made her presence known. She was drunk, constantly in motion, kinda-sorta cute in a beer goggles sort of way (I was sober at the time, so she was just massively annoying) and wearing a Mavericks hat with flashing blue LEDs on it.
Also, she kept touching me. Now, I don’t like being touched. I’ve basically gotten over this enough to not be bothered by the incidental contact one experiences at concerts. The thing is, though, if someone is touching me I find it impossible to not focus on the fact that I’m being touched. It’s distracting in every possible way. Again, I can tune it out at concerts as long as it’s just the incidental too many people in one place sort of thing.
She was grabbing my shoulders. This was very high on my do not want list. However, given that she was drunkenly over-excited and it was loud, I figured that telling her to stop wouldn’t get me too far and punching her would be counterproductive. Eventually, though, she did stop. Because the guy next to me let her up against the barrier.
At this point her friend decided to start touching me. Now, her friend was a minor improvement in that she had a Rangers hat with blinking red LEDs and, y’know, baseball. But she also decided that the small of my back made a much better resting place for her hand than my shoulder, which was just plain weird and annoying.
And so but anyway, Candlebox left and came back for an encore. At the beginning of the song I looked at Mavericks hat out of the corner of my eye and saw her starting to lift her shirt. A short while later I turned again just in time to see that she’d lifted her shirt and bra just enough to expose her right nipple.
In all fairness, it was the highest-quality nipple I’ve ever seen at a Candlebox show. Ah, hell, I’ll go so far as to say it’s the best nipple I’ve ever seen at a concert.
Why? Because I’ve never, ever seen that before. I thought it was some sort of urban legend, like getting your kidneys stolen, the chupacabra, or the female orgasm.
To be honest, I’m still not entirely convinced it’s a thing. Because, believe you me, I was basically confused by that moment. Also, I was confused by what came next.
After the show I overheard the girls (there were three in all, including one non-hatted friend) excitedly discussing their adventures. One said, “He totally saw your boobie!”
I’m assuming they were talking about the lead singer of Candlebox and not me. I’m also guessing that he didn’t. And if he did, well, he seemed to be roughly as impressed with the moment as I was. Also, if he was smart, he went and talked to the women standing on the stage side of the barrier after the show, one of whom was approximately 10x more attractive than boob girl.
Either way, it’s now the second strangest thing I’ve seen at a concert. Yes, boob girl, seeing a member of a religious order at a Better than Ezra show still trumps your nipple at a Candlebox show. Congrats.
Meanwhile, here’s the list of live shows I still very much want to see:
Our Lady Peace
Lost Immigrants (which will be happening Friday)
And, of course, Soundgarden
Sadly, although both Green Day and Soundgarden will be at Lollapalooza this year, I can’t see traveling back to Chicago and spending the $200 or whatever for a pass. Especially since the next two worthwhile acts are Social D and Cypress Hill. I remember when Lollapalooza was actually good. I still didn’t go then, mostly because I was a giant fucking putz.
Also, if you look to the right you’ll see that I’ve updated my list o’ links. I’ve added a couple blogs that have me on their blogroll to the “Friends of Blog” box. And I added Michael Mock’s blog. I don’t know if I’m on a blogroll over there, but he is a friend of the blog in the most technical possible sense. I’ve also added Ken Pulliam’s “Why I De-Converted from Evangelical Christianity” to my “Blogs of Note” list, along with the always awesome “These Bastards.” “Right Wing Watch” offers a lot of links to the shenanigans of the religious right. And the Texas Freedom Network Insider is good for those who care about the school system situation in the state I now find myself residing in.
Oh, also, Zero Punctuation and Escape to the Movies. Good stuff right there. Yahtzee will tell you why every video game sucks and MovieBob will tell you why every movie is good.
Anyone who feels they should be linked should mention it. I don’t exactly know everyone who links to this here place.
Oh, on a final note: boob girl and her friends couldn't have been more than 24. I have no idea why someone from that age group would be so damn excited about Candlebox.
Especially when the lead singer informed us that “Bliguts” is really about a plumbing problem and “Woodburning” is a song about an arts and crafts project that went horribly wrong, as they so often do. That’s probably only funny if you actually know the songs. So, y’know, go get you some Toad the Wet Sprocket.
It included the most random thing I’ve ever seen at a concert. Big A went with me and at one point he said, “Hey, there’s a friar!” I turned around and, sure as shit, there was a tonsured dude in a robe with a rope belt standing there. Now, Quincy is a Catholic university, so it wouldn’t be entirely unexpected to see a member of a religious order. However, standing in the field house between Better than Ezra and their opening act is unexpected.
Also, I think I might have to clear up an old misunderstanding here. At the time I said, “That’s not a friar, that’s a monk.” As it turns out, I may well have been wrong, as monks live cloistered lives while friars do not. So, y’know, at a Better than Ezra show = probably not a cloistered life. At least, that’s my new theory.
Meanwhile, apparently Catholic schools love them some rock bands. When Seneca was in Dallas a couple months ago they did a show at the University of Dallas.
Oddly, I have no ability to put Pearl Jam or Bad Religion on that list. I saw Bad Religion open for Pearl Jam last year at the United Center. The whole arena show thing kind of throws my scale off, as the show was objectively awesome, but comparing it to being five feet from Roger Clyne in a small venue is comparing apples to goats. And my scale is definitely calibrated in favor of smaller venues.
Bear in mind, I drove to Milwaukee to see Mike Doughty last December when I found out about his four Schuba’s shows after they’d ALL sold out.
I don’t generally expect to be deafened at outdoor shows…