Monday, April 16, 2007

too much of a good thing

I’m past the age where, when that phrase sums up my weekend, it refers to vodka. (And even when I was at that age, dessert was my real vice of choice.) No, this weekend it referred to KCRW’s awesome but somewhat interminable Sounds Eclectic concert at the Gibson Amphitheatre.

The Jurassic Parking structure (don’t you wish you lived in LA?) spit us out onto CityWalk, where huge neon signs and the sent of kettle corn somehow add up to nightlife. We groped our way through the crowd until we saw a couple in their late 20s, both with shaggy haircuts, she wearing high heels and skinny jeans, he wearing…well, some other type of good-looking jeans. I’m bad at noticing boys.

“They’re clearly going the same place we are,” AK said. “Let’s just follow them until we get to all the other well-dressed aging hipsters.”

When we united with the aforementioned group, we heard a woman say to her friend, “This is such a KCRW crowd.”

“Oh my god,” I whispered to AK, “we’re even all having the same self-aware conversations.”

But so what, really, when the music is good. I quickly decided that Cold War Kids—with their unabashed and chaotic sense of drama, their White Stripes rawness and their Long Beach soul—was my new favorite band. Like Fiona Apple and Rufus Wainwright (though they’re not really like them at all), they know that piano and operatic plotlines improve any song.

For sheer craft, though, there was no beating Gabriela y Rodrigo, a guitar duo that professes to meld metal with classical Mexican music. Normally instrumental music doesn’t do much for me (operatic plotlines require lyrics), especially when I have to sit quietly and watch it, as opposed to play it in the background while washing dishes. But I was quickly mesmerized not only by the percussive ferocity of their music, but by watching Gabriela’s hand, which moved so fast her fingers appeared to be liquid. Like a jellyfish having a seizure on her guitar strings. Rodrigo was more visually subdued, but as both of them thumped the tops and sides of their instruments, it occurred to me for the first time that truly playing the guitar is different from strumming the strings.

Three back-to-back bands and one cup of coffee later, AK and I were so exhausted you’d think we’d been onstage. By the time the Shins came on for the finale, they seemed slightly annoying, like the party guests who are keeping you from gathering up the empty beer bottles and going to bed—when, in fact, they were stellar, and way more of a rock band that I ever realized from listening to their mellow music on the radio.

The weekend continued, a combination of fun and tiredness: I played laser tag and sucked, I played darts and, weirdly, did not suck. I ran three miles with Mel and felt it in my quads within hours. I watched a gaggle of three-year-olds, led by Bonnie’s birthday boy, Jordan, scream with ecstasy at the sight of bubbles, then lose interest 15 seconds later, and I felt like I could relate a little.


Jamie said...

Very funny ending. I can relate, too. ~J

Cheryl said...

We should take 15-second bubble breaks at work.