Friday, October 21, 2011

Where are y'all going? Brad Paisley isn't done singing yet!

My friend and loyal reader, Rachel, reminded me that it's been a while since we've kibitzed country music, so here we go...

The last concert I attended was in September, Brad Paisleys' H2O2 tour with Blake Shelton and Jerrod Niemann at The Time Warner Pavilion at Walnut Creek, Raleigh. To much time has passed since the concert so I'll skip the play by play and just give brief impressions.

Jerrod Niemann apparently has a goofy side. His band dressed as superheros. He got people on their feet, making arm letters and singing along to "For Everclear". I'm looking forward to seeing him perform again in November, at the Durham Performing Arts Center in the Country for Kids concert supporting UNC Childrens Hospital. 

Blake Shelton sweats like a drunk...pig isn't accurate...I don't know. He sweats like a drunk country music star. At any minute you wonder if he's going to do or say something outrageous. But apart from the slight gross factor (Lord knows how he scored Miranda), my friends and I really enjoyed his show. I love Ol' Red, Austin, and Hillbilly Bone.

Brad Paisley is Brad Paisley. Everything about him and his performance is polished.

So what am I going to kibitz about? I'm going to kvetch about my pet peeves; sitting next to empty seats and people leaving concerts early  in order to beat the traffic.

We had cheap lawn seats and were upgraded to real seats inside the pavilion. I'm assuming that they had security walking around the lawn handing out tickets for these seats because the area around the end of the catwalk, between the blue areas of sections 6 and 7 in the diagram below, was not full. It would have been embarrassing for Brad Paisley to sit on the end of the catwalk (on a toilet that night, due to a prank by Sunny Sweeny's band) singing a love song surrounded by (pink flamingos and) empty seats.

We were sitting in the back-middle of section 8.
Many seats in front of us and all of the seats to our left were empty.
This map is not to scale. The lawn is deeper than the pavilion itself and appeared to be very full.

It's unlikely that I will take those free upgraded tickets again. It's a buzzkill to sit in the back, on the edge of a puddle of bodies around the end of the catwalk, with a sea of empty seats stretching into the distance. The venue should try and fill the entire pavilion if they're already giving free upgrades. Why leave 500 or more empty seats? There were probably 8000 people on the lawn. Unless folks have learned their lesson and know that staying on the lawn is just more fun, they could have found takers for those tickets among people sitting very far back. A big part of a being at a concert is a sharing energy with other attendees. The only energy to be felt where we were sitting was from a group of shrieking sorority sisters sitting behind us. Being surrounded by empty seats sucks the life out of me.

Then, to make it worse, about halfway through Brad Paisley's set, people started to drift out. Why did these people come at all? Some of them payed over $100 a ticket. The people sitting next to us left 45 minutes before he was done in order to avoid traffic.

I think it is rude for an entire party to walk out of a concert in the middle of an artist's set. It's rude to the performer (even if they're used to it and no longer give it much thought) and it's rude to the audience. Perhaps the fact that I grew up attending classical music performances influences my opinion here. I can't imagine a quarter of the audience getting up and walking out of Meymandi Concert Hall in downtown Raleigh in the middle of a performance by Yo-Yo Ma in order to avoid getting caught in a bit of traffic.

What makes it OK to walk out on Brad Paisley?