On Wednesday July 29th I went to go see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. The band gave an excellent performance. The set list was expertly balanced. The extensive range of songs at the YYY's command, old and new, fast and slow, hard and soft were woven with care. Karen O is a rock star like no other who delights in her own performance. Don't misinterpret me. This isn't to say she's full of herself. She emits a joy and exuberance that communicates she's having as much fun performing as the crowd is having just being there. Sounds like I had a hell of a time, right? Wrong.
There were a multitude of annoying things that took place at the concert that sadly outweighed the flawless musical performance by the YYY's. At first, I blamed myself. Am I getting too old? Is it my powers of observation that never allow me to relax? Should I have drank more? I'll concede that I am not totally blameless, but c'mon people, stop checking your fucking facebook account in the middle of the show! Moreover, in the honor of full-disclosure, I did suffer a terrible migraine for about 20 minutes smack dab during the middle of the concert. Other than being in a life threatening situation, I can't think of a worse time to get a migraine. Can you? However, the annoyances started well before that and endured well after my headache. Allow me to simply list a few of the things that drove me batty during the concert and you tell me if you think I'm out of line here.
1. Whilst in the Will-Call line a group of young lassies behind me and my concert companion were speaking loudly about truly irritating topics. For instance, they spotted a Volkswagen Jetta. One said, "Holy fuck, that's totally the car I'm getting. That's the Gulf." "That's a Jetta, bitch." "No way, that's a Gulf. That's exactly the one I want to get except not silver. Fucking bitching." "You dumb cunt that's a fucking Jetta. Look right there on front." It wasn't just that they had this disagreement, but how it proceeded with harsh tones, recriminations, and nails on chalkboard shrilling. When I turned around to look at these banshees that were causing so much discomfort, I observed that one of the numbskulls was decked out in uggs, a black bathing suit bottom and a white, see-through blouse. And no, dudes, it was not hot. If I posted her pic on "Hot or Not" you would instantly click "Not".
2. Before and during the show I got bumped at least 100 times by passers by. Keep in mind we positioned ourselves on the less crowded, rear balcony. Moreover, there was a group of three girls and their manorexic dick-in-a-glass-case friend they toted around that must have bumped me 15 times on their own. Where are you going? Why are you taking laps around the venue? Are you looking for Paris Hilton? Stop because she won't be your BFF. Pick a spot already.
3. There was an hour between when the opening act ended and the Yeah Yeah Yeah's came out. Why do this? You're all pumped and then you have to stand there twiddling your thumbs as your sciatica starts to act up. It then takes you three to four songs to get back into the music once the show starts. I don't know about you, but when I haven't had anything to drink I can't go from standing to dancing in sixty seconds.
4. A concert is not the place to be checking your facebook account. I'll be straight with you. Even if you're instantly uploading your concert pix to your fb account nobody gives a shit. Seriously. Also, never, ever shout, "oh my god, Jenny just got engaged." I don't care, your boyfriend doesn't care, and neither does anyone else at the concert. Keep you facebook discoveries to yourself until after the show.
5. This one truly horrible girl quite literally rested her purse on my shoulder. After this egregious affront to personal space, she propped herself up on a trashcan and had to have security tell her to move. Finally, her coup de grace was lighting up a cigarette which she was instantly told to extinguish by security. This girl, a gem that any boyfriend would love to introduce to his parents, was sadly a dime a dozen at the show.
6. Once we removed ourselves from the trashcan girl's radius of destruction, we were immediately confronted by another concert ruining beast. This time it was the sing-along gang. I don't mind people singing along to the chorus or to a few words here and there, but singing every word to every song right in my ear is not allowed. I came here to hear Karen O sing. Not you. Plus, isn't that why you came here too? Sing along at home or in the car. The performance might be slightly altered from the version that is on your iPod Touch and you might like to hear the difference.
7. My last numbered point is, didn't you come here to listen to music? Then why are you talking the entire fucking time? And why are you doing this in my ear? One girl, I will call her Philly Girl, invaded my ears for most of the show with many of her life philosophies. Her raspy smokers voice straining to be heard made me want to leap off the balcony. For the last 4 songs of the show she gave a dissertation on why Karen O is the ultimate performer and how she puts Janis Joplin to shame because Karen "doesn't give a fuck!" Can these asinine critiques not wait?
But I'll have to thank Philly Girl because upon reflection it was her observations about Karen O that made me see why this show was so incredibly awful. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs attract a high concentration of what is scientifically proven to be the most annoying demographic on the planet: 20 something white girls. Fueled by their admiration for Karen O's creativity, strength, and beauty, these women flock to Yeah Yeah Yeah's show as if it were an Urban Outfitters sample sale. Not one person out there hasn't been the victim of their rude behavior. Whether they're talking too loudly on their cell phones on public transportation, or at a coffee shop, or ahead of you in line at the grocery store, these self-entitled dingbats are oblivious to their actions. Now, take 800 of these girls, give them some alcohol and put them in front of someone they admire and now you might start get a glimpse of what I lived through.
This isn't to say that all 20 something girls are horribly rude people, but in my experience they are the most prone to public rudeness. I suppose it's how they undergo adolescence. Encountering this at an indie rock concert was something I did not expect. I also would've liked to write about all the annoying dudes at the concert, but that didn't happen. There was one guy near us who was wasted and a little overly friendly talking to all his neighbors, but when the music started he was focused on rocking out.
Karen O is what I think many women (and men) aspire to and she is a great role model. She is a female symbol of strength and a unique performer. A successful, atypically beautiful woman operating outside the confines of Hollywood or mainstream music. The problem is that not everyone has the creativity and fire of Karen O and they cannot be her. No matter how boisterous and selfish you act. Her boldness inspires rudeness or brings out the rudeness in her fans. The intelligence in her songwriting, performing, and costume selection inspire stupidity and ill-informed ensembles like a bikini bottom and uggs.
Worse yet, Karen O inspires the same sort of behavior that Miley Cyrus fans or Pink fans or Britney Spears fans display. At the start of the show she emerged on the stage decked out in this fluorescent and white Native American ensemble that was sexy and funky. The girly crowd squealed at her every move. If she took a hood off of her head. Squeals. If she took a sip of water and spewed it in the air. Squeals. If she held her microphone high into the air and stomped her left leg. Squeals. You are not at a Beyonce concert. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs write their own music. Yes, she is something to behold on stage and giving an engaging and energetic performance is an important component to any band, but ultimately a band's worth is about the quality of their music and not about their frontman/frontwoman's costume changes or dance moves. Following a band because you are infatuated by the lead singer's personality is a disservice to the band and their talents. Enough with the squealing. Enough with the chatter and the texting and the sing-a-longs and the smoking. It's time to move on from worshiping personality and start listening to the music, ladies.
Come on, Eldrick.