Last night, my excellent neighbor Bruce and I ventured out into the wilds of Flatbush, Brooklyn to the truly, truly spectacular Kings Theater to see Spoon.
The last — and otherwise only ever — time I saw this band play was at the comparatively intimate and endearingly grotty Brownie’s on Avenue A (r.i.p.) in 1996, on the tour for their debut album, Telephono. Truthfully, I don’t remember that much about that show beyond thinking that their lead singer looked a bit like a blonde Shane MacGowan. I also remember being impressed by the fullness of their sound — them being yet another rinkydink indie band in an ocean of similarly rinkydink indie bands at the time — and curious at how their acoustic guitar was producing such an electric sound (I’ll let the musicians in the audience field that one). As much as I enjoyed that show and enjoyed the album that prompted it, I didn’t see them again until last night, and never bought another album of theirs. They've released about ten more since then.
Based on that experience, last night was an eye-opener. It’s a lofty comparison, but imagine going to see Pink Floyd expecting Piper at the Gates of Dawn and getting the ominous sprawl of The Wall. In the essentially TWO GODDAMN DECADES since I first saw Spoon, they have blossomed into a remarkably tight, accomplished and evidently crazy-popular band. Apart from a Cramps cover, I barely recognized a note they played, but I had a great time. And they FILLED this impressive room … literally and figuratively light years from the cramped, grotty stage of Brownie’s. It’s weird to think that I completely slept on this “rinkydink indie band” while they became this great, versatile entity.
Here’s a clip of them doing “TV Set” by the Cramps … already on YouTube. I did not shoot this.
But this post isn’t really about Spoon.
Bruce and I had seats smack dab in the center, on the ground floor of the theater (although nobody sat). We stood watching and sipping our exorbitantly priced drinks amidst the similarly inclined throng. About two rows in front of us was a trio of girls. Denizens of blogs like EV Grieve and Jeremiah Moss’ Vanishing New York might categorize these ladies as “woo girls,” and I wouldn’t protest. You assuredly know the type. I guess Spoon has made it to the big leagues if gals like these are showing up at their gigs. Move over, Beyonce.
I certainly don’t begrudge enthusiasm at a show. Quite the opposite. And these girls had plenty of it. But their ringleader, a brunette with easily-flicked locks, spent the ENTIRETY of the show demonstrating a frankly disarming display of attention deficit disorder. Either an ardent Spoon fan (or severely intent in telegraphing that notion), she danced, swayed, hair-flicked and gesticulated (inna Mariah Carey stylee) with the music with half of her petite frame, while feverishly pecking at her iPhone with the other. It was never put away.
Before you cry foul, let me admit that I used my iPhone, too. Before the show started, I snapped several pics of the jaw-droppingly gorgeous theatre. Once the show commenced, I snapped the photo below during the band’s second song. That it turned out so sharp is purely an accident. After that, I put it away and didn’t remove it again.
Miss Woo Girl, however, simply COULD NOT PUT HER PHONE AWAY. And she WAS NOT taking pictures of the show. She WAS NOT shooting a video of the proceedings. What was she doing? She was checking the temperature (a comfortable 77 degrees), she was texting, she was perusing Instagram, she updated her Facebook status and she CHECKED ON Linked-In. This last one really blows my mind — although maybe she too is out of a job and just more proactive in her search than I.
How do I know all this? Because, simply speaking, someone diddling on their iPhone in the dark in front of you has pretty much the same affect as a television in a dive bar. Your eyes CANNOT STOP from being drawn to it. It is beyond distracting.
I took a moment to discuss it with Bruce. While I was positively vibrating with contempt, Bruce took a more sympathetic approach. “She can’t help it,” he offered, essentially suggesting that she wasn’t so much an inconsiderate princess as a helpless addict.
The other weird thing about it was that apart from Bruce and I (both of us on the far side of the Rubicon of our mid-40s), absolutely NO ONE else seemed fazed or bothered, not even slightly.
Welcome to the new normal.
Put it away and enjoy the moment.