Misbehavin’ at the Eastman Theater
I grew up in a town where many if not most people get up and dance at a rock concert.
New Yorkers are known to be a bit rowdy and I pride myself in my own rowdiness the older I get. It proves I’m still alive
Yes, I know how to sit well-behaved at a symphony or an opera, but at a rock concert, or even a Broadway show with a rocking musical score, many if not all audience members where I grew up get up where they are seated and DANCE.
I just got out of a concert that I can say I have been looking forward to since I got my tickets on January 27. But no, I’ve actually been waiting to see Bonnie Raitt AND Marc Cohn for over 20 years now.
Her Grammy-winning album, Nick of Time, came out the year I graduated college and started my first job at a tiny weekly newspaper in New Jersey. I would play it on analog tape back and forth in my first car, my dad’s 1982 Toyota station wagon, back and forth from New Brunswick to Hunterdon County, every day for months. My roommate and I cleaned house to the upbeat songs. I cried myself to sleep to the sadder songs like “Too Soon to Tell.” It was after this introduction to Ms. Raitt’s newest album that my roommate said that her mom said that I had to listen to Bonnie Raitt’s old stuff. So I got Collection. And I became hooked on that too and developed a love for blues music.
Then, several years later, I moved out to California to be with the man who would soon become my husband. The year we became engaged, Marc Cohn released his self-titled debut album. We were driving on a windy California road and “True Companion” came on the radio. That beautiful song became our wedding song.
These two artists have a lot of meaning in my life. So, hell yeah, if I’m going to be a little loud. I might be compelled by one of Ms. Raitt’s signature blues riffs to get up out of my seat and wiggle a bit. A LOT.
But as Bonnie played one of the more up numbers of the night, “Come to Me,” I noticed that hardly anyone was dancing in their places.
Is it our northern location? Is it the lack of sunlight that mellows out Rochesterians so much that they don’t get out of their seats at rock concerts?
And, Ms. Rait: Was it us? Would you have played some more rocking songs to close out your last set at the Eastman Theater tonight if the audience were not so ….
Would you have closed with “Thing Called Love” or “Love Me Like a Man” instead of a cover version of Van Morrrison’s “Crazy Love” if you got a more up vibe from the sleepy audience?
There were some women, myself included, who tried to do their part and could just not stay seated. Women feed off each other on things like this. Once one woman gets up, another one or two feel validated and do the same. The woman sitting next to me agreed about the lack of life in the audience, and we both declared we were not dead yet and YES we were going to dance.
Then, as a more mellow song followed and we sat down, we actually got scolded by an usher for DANCING at a concert.
The blue-haired, polka dot-shirted bespectacled usher, who was sitting for FREE in the last row behind me, said to me:
“You are being very rude and inconsiderate. I cannot see the performance if you stand.”
If I were younger, a scolding by an older authority would have reduced me to tears.
I’m being bad?
Finally, at age 44?
Hey, Little old lady usher with the polka-dotted shirt and white eyeglass chain:
Did you even know who this woman was on stage? Do you have all of her albums? Did you listen to “Nick of Time” and “Luck of the Draw” till you knew every word and every guitar lick when you were in your 20’s?
Bonnie, my heroine, who at age 61 was playing on stage, in high heels and skinny jeans and playing that slide guitar STILL like nobody’s business;
Bonnie, who in her 2000 induction speech to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame encouraged women to “get out of the kitchen and into the kick-ass fire” of playing rock and blues, Bonnie would have been very proud of me, thank you very much, and to NOT dance and sing and whoop it up would have been an act of disrespect to Ms. Raitt, not to an usher who didn’t even PAY for her seat behind me!
So, Ms. Raitt, if you ever do read this blog, I must apologize for the overheated Eastman Hall and the majority of the audience, who kind of sat there like wet wash cloths and didn’t give you and your hard-working band do justice to get off their asses and dance!
And Rochester, next time you are at a rock concert, give the musicians the justice they deserve and GET UP AND DANCE!!!