I’ve been to a lot of concerts this summer. First, was my hero, Paul Simon in May. In June, on a whim, I saw Rihanna - and LOVED the spectacle of a pop concert so much that when a Groupon to see Britney came up a month later, I went with my dancing shoes on. In July, a two year wait to see U2 ended in an awesome rain soaked exhibition of laser lights, spaceships and mother f**kin’ Bono. All of that, and I didn’t even mention my trip to see the Minnesota Orchestra.
Three weeks after my intergalactic trip to Mars with U2, I hopped in my flashy new Hyundai and moseyed down to Milwaukee to see the eels with my B Side peeps.
The small show at the Turner Hall Ballroom could not have been more different than any of the other shows I saw this summer, the crowd was small, the venue’s floorboards threatened broken ankles and I wasn’t super familiar with the band. Yet, I was blown away by how much fun the band was having playing the show, and actually really loved how every song had energy. The time I spent trying to cram in eels songs the week before set me up to think the show would be really mellow, but the show . . . rocked. I walked in as an interested music lover and came out an eels fan.
Part of what was so fun about the show was the charisma of all of the band members, but mostly their front man E. I was charmed. I’m sure the ZZ Top aesthetic had something to do with it, but they managed to escape the obvious indie rock stereotype of a bunch of artists who take themselves too seriously. God knows I love a sense of humor, and seeing the band on stage having a great time has actually made me enjoy the small collection of eels songs that I’ve amassed on Grooveshark even more. Seeing the band live made me like them more – which is the best possible outcome when you go into a show uncertain.
Funny enough, with the exception of Paul Simon in May, I’ve spent the summer going to see shows where I’m not familiar with the music, and it has paid off. I don’t know all of the songs that were played at the eels concert, but if I wouldn’t have gone, I wouldn’t have checked out Hombre Lobo – which is an awesome album. If I hadn’t seen Britney, I would have never heard the song How I Roll which has revolutionized my time at the gym. I wouldn’t have really known that U2 live sounds exactly like the radio, and that Rihanna isn’t just an oversexed pop vixen – she CAN SING and LOVES doing it.
It’s been a great summer so far. And I encourage you all to see more bands live. It doesn’t have to be a huge national act, but one of my favorite ways to learn about new music is to see the artist for myself. But if you can't make it, go get a copy of Hombre Lobo and Femme Fatale. You won’t regret it.