June 24, 2009

Hello, my name is Chase. I'm from the East.

In this part of Arizona there's a very defined line of separation between Phoenix and Tucson. Aside from the obvious college rivalry that exists between ASU and UA, people squabble over authenticity, aesthetic, atmosphere, even the superiority of geographic location.

Tucson is hippy/artsy. Phoenix is more cosmopolitan.
Tucson sits at the foot of mountains. Phoenix is in a valley.
Tucson's nightlife looked dead. Phoenix is alive at night.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I learned a lot about these mindsets during my recent trip south to Tucson to see Sunset Rubdown perform at a sweet nightclub called Plush.

I'll concede with the locals, there are obvious differences between the two cities. But, I think there's another problem Arizonans need to solve. Of the two concerts I've attended here (The Handsome Furs and Sunset Rubdown), both crowds were (in the words of Dave Frank) "offensively lame."

Here are some examples:

At The Handsome Furs:

One of the openers, The Cinnamon Band (consequently, from Staunton, Virginia), was playing...and then turned to the crowd and said, "Hey guys you can come closer to the stage." And it was true, the nearest person was probably 6 feet away from them.

People hesitated, but before long one man broke the silence, yelling, "Yeah but your box amp is too loud!"

Not only did the crowd refuse to move forward, creating an awkward tension between the band and the audience...but some idiot came to a concert and complained about the volume. Needless to say the Cinnamon Band was pretty sarcastic throughout the rest of their set...and rightfully so.


The Handsome Furs were playing. By this time everyone was packed in and it was pretty lively. Dan Boeckner stopped between songs to talk about how much he loved the desert and the cacti and such. He said he was really wowed by the "Jumping Cholla" cactus, that seems to attack people.

But a guy in the very front row, shouted and began to explain, in excrutiating detail, how they don't really attack people, but the biological reaction their spines have when they brush up against something makes them appear to attack.


Someone in the audience yelled an obscenity about the explainer and assured Boeckner of the cactus' danger.

At Sunset Rubdown:

So the band is playing, the crowd is alright. Between songs Spencer Krug looks up, obviously excited to be in the desert, and says, "Do you all ever just find yourselves driving through the desert and listening to The Doors? Because that's what we did today."

And some idiot (about 4 feet away from him) says, "Why would you drive through the desert -- and why would you listen to The Doors?!"

Oh Jesus. Mark Perkins and I exchanged horrified glances, him ashamed of his hometown, me disgusted by the Southwest. Even worse, Krug looked just as mortified.

To add insult to injury, the crowd barely cheered for an encore. They just sat there, occasionally shouting something (i.e. Mark and I)...it was clear the entire band was put-off. But they were feeling forgiving, I think, and played one more.

Even still, the show was a lot of fun:


I'm trying to nail it down. Maybe it's regional? Certainly not. How could that be possible? Does the entire southwest suffer from this lame-crowd syndrome?

There are amazing things about Arizona. The desert is as cool as people who've never seen it imagine it to be. The art scene in Phoenix is consistently rated among the top ten in the U.S., and the number of things to do forces me to make tough decisions each weekend.

Still, when I introduce myself, I'm always thinking of ways to slip my regional background into conversation. There's still something about the locals that make me proud to originate from a separate region. When it comes down to it, the offenses at these concerts would never happen in Detroit.

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Blogger SC said...

From what I've seen, the locals of every part of the US claim two things about their region:

1) Weather here is more unpredictable than everywhere else. You wait five minutes, it'll change.

2) [Name of Large, Semi-Popular City Nearby] sucks.

And did you just yadda-yadda the Southwest?

June 24, 2009 at 7:02 PM 
Blogger Chase said...

Haha, I did yadda-yadda the Southwest, not that there's anything wrong with that, right?

I agree about your first point, and only hesitantly about the second. Weather is always a huge damn deal:

"It's gonna be so cold up there, are you ready for that..."

"It's gonna be hot there, you ready?"

In Phoenix they're more into warning me about their "monsoons" rather than the heat. So far the monsoons seem pretty harmless...sometimes the rain evaporates before it even hits the ground...which actually looks pretty cool.

June 24, 2009 at 7:19 PM 
Blogger M. Perkins said...

#1. http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/296678

#2. Technically the Doors exchange went as follows:
Krug: "Do you all ever just find yourselves driving through the desert and listening to The Doors? Because that's what we did today... Well, we *had* to drive through the desert to get here..."
Douche: "Did you *have* to listen to the Doors?"
Chase and I exchange disgusted/horrified looks.

The effect was the same though.

Also, a few seconds after that exchange, a drunk guy shouted "YOU SUCK!" to the band... then a few seconds later "...I'm kidding..."

This is the second show w/ Spencer Krug I've seen (last was Wolf Parade), and the fifteen-or-twenty minutes before dbags 1 and 2 opened their mouths was the only time he seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself. He looked understandably a little pissed from there on out.

#3. There was one other guy going nuts for the encore. Which makes three people. About a minute before the encore, when literally everyone but the three of us were dead silent, Krug made "cut-it"-type-motion to the sound guy... but then twenty seconds later two of them came on stage followed about five-to-ten-seconds later by the other (reluctant-looking) three. Not a good way to close a show.

#4. There are shitty crowds everywhere. I guarantee crap like that has happened and will happen occasionally in Detroit. Perhaps not as often. I don't know. There were a couple assholes (not quite as assholish as the guys at Monday night's show, but still) at the Danielson show in Pontiac, MI (aka greater Detroit).

June 24, 2009 at 7:31 PM 
Blogger M. Perkins said...

PS: You ain't seen no monsoons yet. It's only technically "monsoon season." For some reason they extended it wildly recently, all the way into September, even though the real monsoon season is always 2-3 weeks, generally in late July.

PPS: I do think desert areas like Arizona are immune from "unpredictable weather" claims, since you can pretty much guarantee 300 days of sunshine a year, with no natural disasters... Except during monsoon season. And also "if you want dry heat stick your head in an oven."

June 24, 2009 at 7:34 PM 
Anonymous Econ said...


June 24, 2009 at 8:02 PM 
Anonymous Timothy said...

If you want a "good" crowd in the southwest you need to go to some crappy fratboy band's concert, like Jack Johnson. Or Kenny Chesney. Thats where arizonans hang loose. GAG!

June 24, 2009 at 10:37 PM 
Blogger Tony said...

Minneapolis crowd was tepid during Wolf Parade. Krug attributed that to too much "Minnesota nice," which seemed to be an oft-heard complaint from Minneapolitans.

No Detroit crowd has ever disappointed me. I saw two or three shows in Chicago and, again, was caught up in the energy.

Nice vid.

June 25, 2009 at 12:46 AM 
Blogger JHitts said...

I have a leg up here, Chris, because Springfield, MO really is the wildest weather city in the country (at least, according to Forbes):


And it really does suck, because its bar-to-church ratio is way too low, there's too much "sprawl" — there's no real city center, and no real big buildings, just a bunch of shitty chain businesses plopped in the middle of the Ozarks. It feels more like a giant suburb than anything.

That said, from what I've seen, Missourians— specifically Columbians and St. Louisians— are fine concert-goers. But I've only been to two here, so I don't have a definite answer. My hunch is that Midwesterners in general just have good concert etiquette?

June 25, 2009 at 1:21 AM 
Blogger Chase said...

It might be a little unfair that I hold the Detroit Of Montreal show at a high level for my fun-o-meter. But they're really dancy.

June 25, 2009 at 2:38 AM 
Blogger K. Janke said...

I wonder if the guy who hit Jack's car was making a video while operating his motorized vehicle...

June 25, 2009 at 7:39 PM 

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