Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Phantom of the Opera @ OC Performing Arts Center

I've only been to Pantages, so this theater was much bigger and the stage was round. We were sitting off to the right side. I don't know if it was the seating arrangement or because I'm too short, but the head of the woman sitting in front of me obscured the middle of the stage. During the first half of the musical, I all the action seemed to take place at the center of the stage. I struggled to peer around her head or over it, but after awhile I gave up. So, I ended up zoning out a bit because it was like I was just sitting there listening to a soundtrack. Also, the music was more operatic than I'm used to, which is understandable because of the name of the musical. I think I need to be able to see people's gestures and see what's going on to keep my attention. I liked the stage effects like the chandelier, the fire, the guns, and the boat scenes. During the second half of the musical, I switched seats with F, which wasn't much better because the woman in front of me was constantly moving around to see past the head of the person sitting in front of her. At least the first woman, sat still most of the time. Fortunately, most of the characters were running back and for on the stage and the action wasn't so much in the center. I enjoyed the second half much more. It kept my full attention and the music was good. I'm considering renting the movie just to see what I missed during the first half.

I was debating what I should wear to the musical, but I guess I had nothing to worry about because I saw some people who looked like they were dressed to go clubbing: mini skirts or dresses that looked like they should be tops. And I saw a guy wearing shorts!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Cribs @ El Rey

It was interesting how none of the opening acts remotely resembled The Cribs. The El Rey is perfectly designed for short people. There were platforms on both sides of the stage and stairs leading down into the standing area. We were able to find a great spot near the front of the platforms and we were still pretty close to the band without having any giants blocking us. It was great! I liked the old fashioned theater look of the El Rey. It was in between Wiltern and Henry Fonda: not as new as the Wiltern, but not as shabby as Henry Fonda and it was larger than I thought it would be. I was surprised that The Cribs were playing somewhere that big.

Jeffrey Lewis & the Jitters
They sounded like Moldy Peaches with the quirky storytelling lyrics, but Jeffrey & the Jitters had better singers. The female singer looked really awkward to me, but W tells me that's just the NY look. Apparently, the NY look also includes guys wearing tight pants and plaid shirts because that's how Jeffrey was dressed and the guys in Ra Ra Riot (also from NY). J seemed to find the band very amusing, but S, W, and I were in agreement that it just wasn't our kind of music. Frankly, we were kind of bored a few songs into it. His short films were kind of funny (well, one of them anyways). Otherwise, I'm not sure how people get away with singing this kind of music. I mean, they're like poems you make up in elementary school and they don't even have to rhyme and apparently no one (like Jeffrey or Kimya Dawson) really needs any singing experience whatsoever.

Ra Ra Riot
I've never seen an electric violin or electric cello before. I didn't even know they made them! I hadn't heard of them, but W said they were alright. I was a little concerned when they 1st came out. They looked like they were all 16 and all the guys had afro-y hair and tight pants and plaid shirts. The girls were in nice matching dresses. They ran out on stage and started playing right away. They were really energetic and bouncy the entire time. Very catchy music. W keeps calling it frat rock. I have no idea what that means, but apparently they are in the same genre as Vampire Weekend, which I've heard of, but haven't really listened to much of their music. I think RRR sounds kind of like indie dance pop rock. They would sound pretty typical without the classical instruments, but you throw them in and the sound is much fuller, like there's an orchestra backing them up. The cello and violin definitely make the music stand out much more. All their songs were really catchy and danceable. Makes me wish I could actually dance instead of just bobbing around. And I noticed a bit of 80s influence in their music.

The Cribs
I was surprised by how many people were at El Rey. I didn't know The Cribs were so popular and the tickets didn't seem to sell out that quickly at the time that I had purchased them. They were much more punk live than they sounded on their latest album "Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever". I know their older stuff was more punk, but live they sounded so different. They sounded fantastic live. Their songs were still recognizable, but sounded totally different live. They sounded better! All of them were really into the music. I just got into The Cribs recently, so I didn't realize they had 2 singers in the band. I prefer the sounds of the less punkier, raspier brother, but they both added to the music. There was an older gentleman standing by us who brought his fam (wife and son, who looked about 13) and he was TOTALLY into the music. You could tell he was a hardcore fan. He was headbanging so hard. I felt kind of bad that his son didn't seem to appreciate the music at all. W said he had headphones on the entire time. He must've had to turn up his iPod really loud to hear over The Cribs because they were raucous. And I was a little bit embarrassed to be standing near these skanky groupies who were yelling at the singers to take their shirts off. You're at a punk show, really? REALLY? I mean, yeah, the drummer was really good looking and the twins were attractive in a Billy Zane kind of way, but still. It's not a boy band up there on stage. Although, there was a ton of crowdsurfing. Fans got on stage, surprisingly, mostly guys. Some of them ran up to the guitarist and tried to hug him, which I thought was weird behavior for male fans. Some of the guys got on stage more than once. They were quickly removed, but it was weird. I'm used to seeing that kind of behavior from females. They ended the night like total rock stars. The guitarist started shredding his guitar against an amp and made this long loud speech (I couldn't understand what he was saying through his thick Brit accent, but I'm sure it involved anarchy of some sort). Then the drummer jumped over his drum set, knocked over his high hat, and they all ran off the stage. No encore. That's a first for me, but maybe they were annoyed that so many people got on stage? Also, the guitarist went crowd surfing, but was quickly pulled back and thrown on the ground by security. Surprisingly rough treatment for the headliner.

High Note: hearing some unexpected music and falling in love with it all over again.
Low Note: hearing the screams of a skanky girl and occasionally getting bumped by her purse that was bigger than her empty head.