Monday night Ian and I sat among what Ian called “the safest concert crowd ever” at The Ryman Auditorium to watch The Most Awesome Band in The Universe, aka the Barenaked Ladies.
Now, those of you who know me know that I have been a pretty ridiculous Barenaked Ladies fan since about, oh, 1998? 1999? A long-ass time, anyway. So you will understand the significance of this next sentence:
While I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, I’ll have to admit I was a bit bored at times.
I know, right? Me? Kind of bored? At a BARENAKED LADIES CONCERT? I mean, that’s the shit that I live for, pretty much. So WTF happened?
Two things, really:
- The crowd at The Ryman was just… lame. I’ve seen the Barenaked Ladies five times before, but never in Nashville. This was the first time I’d seen them and almost everyone in the audience sat. During the entire performance. They finally stood for the first encore song, but then sat again. It was disheartening. And because I was not drinking (it was a school night and I think I was still hungover from Saturday), I was not willing to be “that girl,” the lone girl in the balcony who stands and dances and waves her hands around, annoying all of the wet blankets around her.
- Steven Page’s absence. The energy just wasn’t the same. Page and Ed Robertson, the other/now sole lead singer had this really awesome chemistry. Like, you could just tell they were BFFs and having a really fucking good time at the show, like they’d be doing it even if nobody was there and they weren’t getting paid. Kevin and Tyler are good sidekicks, but they couldn’t make up for the palpable absence of Page. The witty banter, the adlibbing, the goofy dancing, the great guitar-playing… it was all still there, the show was just… missing something.
Now, I’m not sure that anyone who hadn’t seen them live before, as a whole band, would think the same thing. Maybe I was expecting too much out of the audience. And the show was still really good. They have always put on a great live show, and even people who aren’t necessarily fans (aka Ian) still have a good time, or so I hear.
I’m seeing them twice more this year—once in Austin at the end of the month with Summer and again this Saturday in Louisville with Holly and Ron—so I’ll be interested to see if the crowds are more energetic and have a positive impact on the show. And I’m curious to see what Holly, who’s never seen them before, thinks about the stage presence.
Now, this is not to say I didn’t enjoy the show. Because I really did. I’m glad I went, and I’m really, really happy Ian is willing to suck it up and go to their shows with me every year or so because despite not being his cup of tea, he knows it makes me happy. That’s pretty awesome.
Two cool things that happened at the show, too: They brought out Erin McCarley, who sang on Every Subway Car on their new album, to sing the song with them live because she happens to live here in Nashville. (Ed told a story about never having met her before this show, and he happened to run into her on the street earlier that day and recognized her, but she didn’t recognize him. I just have to say this: I hope that was a joke, because how the hell can you be a fledgling musician in Nashville and get the chance to sing on a Barenaked Ladies song, know you’re going to be performing it live with them at THE FUCKING RYMAN, and not bother to look up the lead singer of the band so you can see what he looks like??)
Also, later in the show he told a story of going to The Station Inn the night before and hearing David, the dude at the far left in the above picture, killing it on the guitar with his band Cadillac Sky. Ed apologized for putting him on the spot but asked if he’d come up and play guitar on Fox on the Run with them. Of course David accepted, and he fucking tore that guitar up. It was awesome. A very Nashville moment, I guess, where some oddly shaped dude with a raging hipster beard gets pulled out of the audience and completely blows up the stage like it’s no big deal.
It’s shit like that that makes me love Nashville, despite its frequently crappy crowds. So I’m heading into Saturday’s show with an open mind. And Holly’s already agreed to get up and dance with me, so watch out Louisville!