Anne and I took Ryan to see Elvis Costello and The Police at the Hollywood Bowl last night.
We bought our tickets months ago, and got the best seats we could afford. We took the shuttle from the Zoo to the Bowl, and were in our seats about ten minutes before Elvis and The Impostors took to the stage for an hour-long set that was just fantastic. He didn’t play Lipstick Vogue, which is my all-time favorite Elvis tune, but he nailed all the other songs you’d expect him to play. Sting even joined him for Alison, which was pretty cool.
Did you know that Elvis Costello is 53? He was rocking it out like it was 1988 instead of 2008, and was clearly having a good time. Also, his keyboardist plays a Theremin. A Theremin! How cool!
He only played for an hour, and by the time he was finished, the Bowl was filled to its 18,000 person capacity as night fell.
The Police took the stage, and opened with a wonderful version of Bring On the Night that just sounded great. It started out softly, built to a powerful crescendo, and created a wonderful sense of anticipation for the rest of the show: The Police had clearly come to rock us.
I forget what they played next, but I recall thinking, "Man, they just sound awesome!"
This was around the same time that the woman behind me got on her cell phone and started calling everyone she knew to tell them how awesome Sting sounded.
I was annoyed, but thought I’d just wait it out. Once she went through a few calls to share her excitement with people who couldn’t be there, she’d quiet down, I figured.
I was wrong.
The calls quickly turned from "I’m at the concert and they sound awesome!" to "So, what are you doing this weekend? Oh my god did you see [some stupid gossip thing.]?!"
I paid $60 for my ticket, before the Ticketbastard fees. Surely this woman had spent a similar amount of money. She really wanted to spend the show shouting into her phone?
Two songs later, I couldn’t take it any more. I turned around and said, "Would you please try to talk a little more quietly?"
This is when I saw that she was near the bottom of one of these 32 ounce sangrias they sell at the Bowl. Perfect.
"Hold on," she said into her phone. "What?"
"I said, would you please talk a little more quietly? You’re really loud."
She rolled her eyes at me. "Whatever, dude."
Something in me snapped. Before I knew it, I said, "Hey! I don’t want to listen to your fucking phone calls. I want to listen to the Police."
Her eyes widened, like she wasn’t used to people standing up to her.
Did I mention that she was probably in her mid-40s? Yeah, that’s important. She was absolutely old enough to know better.
"WHAT?" She said.
"I paid sixty dollars to listen to The Police, not to listen to you."
"Well I paid seventy," she said, petulantly.
"So that makes it okay for you to be an inconsiderate asshole?" I said.
"Oh my GOD!" She said. I seriously felt like I was dealing with a child.
"Just be quiet, please," I said, and turned back around.
For the next twenty minutes, this woman loudly complained about me to her equally drunk, equally idiotic friends. She kicked my chair. She clapped her hands next to my head. She screamed like a teenage girl in a Beatles concert film.
In other words, this stupid asshole made about a third of her concert experience — seeing The Police! — all about trying as hard as she could to ruin it for me, because I’d asked — politely — for her to just be considerate of the people around her.
I ignored her the way you’d ignore a child who was having a temper tantrum and she eventually got bored and stopped. Just in time for the stoners to show up in front of me.
I want to break from my complaining about this crap for a second to point out that The Police put on a tremendous show. They’ve been playing the same songs for thirty years, but like Elvis Costello before them didn’t show any obvious signs of "we’ve been playing this song for thirty years" fatigue. They sounded great, it was clear that they were having a lot of fun and enjoying each other’s performances, and their energy was great. They were most certainly not phoning it in, and if we hadn’t been surrounded by assholes, it could have been one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen.
So, the stoners. Yeah, that was awesome. I don’t go to a lot of concerts because the goddamn stoners drive me crazy, but these people — again, clearly in their 40s — were constantly sparking up like it was 1977 and we were at a Dead show. As they got more drunk and more high, they provided a nice balance to the asshole woman behind me. And by balance, I mean perfect equilibrium.
If I hadn’t been there with my wife and son, I would have left, because it was so irritating. It’s a shame, because it really was a fantastic show, even if they didn’t play Synchronicity II, which is my favorite Police song ever.
I’ve noticed something in the last few years: the older the audience, the greater the number of assholes. It seems like younger people are more passionate about the music and more interested in enjoying the performance, while the older audiences (around my age, I guess) are more interested in getting fucked up and acting like idiots who are, for some reason I have yet to comprehend, are entitled to be as obnoxious, self-centered and inconsiderate as they want.
At least the idiots weren’t there for Elvis Costello, so the entire night wasn’t miserable. I just wish people would be more considerate of others, especially when we’re all together in what is supposed to be a pretty awesome shared experience.