Tonight I went to see Beck at the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal, formerly known as the Universal Amphitheatre. Universal Citywalk is only a few blocks from where I live, but once you head up that hill, you’re transported to a crowded neon world where everyone’s a tourist. To get over to the “Gibson Amp” (as some lady from KROQ called it), you have to walk the strip of theme park craziness. It wasn’t the best way to start the night.
When we walked into the amphitheatre, I realized that a) our seats were about thirty rows further back than I thought, and b) I had no interest at all in the opening band. Le Tigre came out next. They had lots of energy, but they were so small and far away, I didn’t get that into it. When they played F.Y.R., they said “Let’s do it karaoke style,” and put the lyrics up on the big screens so the audience could sing along. From the back of the audience, I couldn’t read the words even if I squinted.
At first I thought it was the distance from the stage that was bugging me, and then I blamed the hot day for stealing all my energy. But by the end of the night I realized the problem:
I couldn’t see anyone’s face. I’ve been to a several rock shows lately, but they’ve all been in much smaller venues. Watching bands from ten feet away (or less) is a completely different experience from the one I had tonight. Maybe I’ve spoiled myself with too many small shows, but now when I hear someone sing, I want to know the exact expression they’re making. I want to know if they’re bonding with a bandmate, or staring at someone in the audience, or smiling awkwardly because they screwed up a lyric. Beck sounded great, but even on the big screens, I could barely see his face. The photo above shows him at actual size (to the best of my memory) from where I was sitting.
I had been looking forward to this show since I bought the tickets two months ago, but I think I got my expectations up a little too high. Did anyone else go and have better seats? If you were dancing on stage with Beck at the end, I’m, like, totally jealous.