Friday, April 6, 2012

Concert-Going in Miami: I Didn't Realize This Was A Bar?

The Fillmore Jackie Gleason Theater, Miami Beach
(image credit: photographer unknown)

I've been going to a lot of concerts and performances this year. I really love going to the theater, to the opera, and to concerts. But sometimes I think it is very, very lucky that I don't have a carry permit in my charming Stand Your Ground state. I could really hurt someone and simply say they threatened my sanity.

Yesterday, I had the almost-pleasure of attending a concert by Paco de Lucia, one of the most revered flamenco guitarists in the world. And the performance would have been spectacular if it hadn't been for the utter hideousness of the audience experience. When the lights finally went down, almost 20 minutes after the official start time, people were still milling around, and I had that mezzanine-above-the-stars experience as the sea of illuminated phones below me took so very, very, very long to go out. Oh, wait. They didn't. After the concert's sponsor made the announcement to silence phones and prohibiting any flash photography, the first thing that happened when Paco de Lucia went out on stage was an explosion of flashes, even from the seat right on the other side of a friend that accompanied us. People continued to mill around, and to be seated, even an hour after the start time. Seated by loud ushers with flashlights. Seated in the middle of long, long rows, requiring everyone to stand so they could get to their seat. For an effing HOUR. After that first hour, people also started getting up to go out and order more drinks. Which waiters with trays of drinks and no flashlights then tried to deliver. In the dark. Blocking our view and frequently interrupting those listening, asking if they had ordered this drink, then moving further along to other rows when it wasn't the right row and right person. Cellphones were illuminated, at various points, in sufficient numbers to make me think I was at a Bruce Springsteen concert and he was playing "Born in the USA" or at a Billy Joel concert when he played "Goodnight Saigon." You know, like a tribute piece, where people all hold up lighters? At one point there appeared to be a board meeting next to the exit door. At least seven men were standing there, talking in low voices. I kept wondering where the bomb was or who they were looking for. It was incredibly distracting and incredibly disrespectful of the artistry on stage. A little boy in front of me, who couldn't have been more than 6 years old asked his dad at one point if he could get up and his father said no. But all those other people are walking around, he whispered. *eyeroll*  His father gave him his silenced cellphone and let him play games.

I've seen a lot of performers in this venue. From Natalie Merchant to Itzhak Perlman. From Melissa Etheridge to Radio Lab. From Dave Sedaris to Evgeny Kissin. I've been going there for decades.

When did this place turn into a bar? When did someone get the brilliant idea that the ticket holder always wins, can get in any time, no matter how disruptive they are and can order drinks delivered to their seat, to boot? I paid $85 a ticket to sit in a bar? Really?

Paco, Paco, Paco... you and your company got treated like dirt. No wonder Diana Krall will never return. And I don't even think they were serving drinks directly to the seated audience back then.

Here's the Paco we'd have liked to hear. Notice the lack of other conversations and that your view of the performer is not blocked by someone delivering beer and cocktails:

© Bright Nepenthe, 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment