I've been enjoying, these past few weeks, being out and about more frequently to hear live music. I've been able to hear lots of good stuff - Avi Granite at The Rex, Tara Davidson's CD release at the Jazz Bistro, Boom Crane at The Rex, and even Opera Atelier's Alcina at the Elgin Theatre. This past Monday night, I was one of many musicians (as it turns out) in the audience for the Dirty Loops show at the Opera House.
I need to process this show with you.
The Dirty Loops gained a lot of attention via fairly impressive videos, posted to YouTube, in which they play some funky versions of songs by Justin Bieber, Britney Spears and more. On display in the videos is impressive technique - on drums, bass, voice and in the arrangements. Every time they posted a new video, Facebook seemed to light up, with many musicians impressed by what they saw. And, by all accounts, they put on a great live show - I heard raves about their show last year at the Montreal Jazz Festival, and they must have made an impression: they were off to Montreal following their Toronto show.
My expectations for Monday's show, therefore, were relatively high. I was looking forward to being blown away in person by the technique demonstrated online.
Now - full disclosure. I hadn't listened to their album before the show. I knew it was coming, but didn't actually realize it was already out. If I had, maybe I would have been better prepared for the show. Because instead of the dirty, funky, groovy stuff of their videos, the audience was treated to 75 minutes of pop-y, sometimes cheesy, sometimes techno-y, mostly original music. I exchanged many looks with the friend who was with me…we ultimately decided what we were hearing was a short step away from full-on boy band.
That's not to say there weren't exciting moments. Jonah Nilsson's vocal range is impressive, and for the most part he sounded excellent. Six-string bassist Henrik Linder had a few moments to shine. And they did, ultimately, deliver the covers which made them famous, and in fine fashion. I suppose I was hoping for a lot more "Hit Me" and a lot less "Die for You."
So why the need to process? Because the rest of the audience seemed so. Into it. At a certain point I turned to my friend and said, "Maybe it's just us." If the band onstage is putting on a high-energy show, and the crowd is having a great time, and no one is getting hurt, what the heck is my problem?
And then a terrible thought occurred to me. Maybe I've turned into that guy. Maybe I'm a curmudgeon. Maybe I need to unbutton my proverbial jacket and just shake my tail.
Maybe. I don't think my assessment of the show is wrong. For me, it didn't meet expectations. But maybe my approach to certain shows needs a new, um, approach.
Were you there? What did you think?