Am I too old for rock concerts?

November 6th, 2010

Two concerts in the space of a couple of weeks and both times I didnt make it for more than half an hour.
484933 Manu Chao has been a favorite for a long time, so I was very excited to be able to hear him live. He played at the Coronet, a large-ish standing rock venue in South London, in support of a Colombiage, a not for profit that promotes Colombian culture abroad.

The energy in the venue and Manu’s exuberance when he came on stage were infectious. Everyone from the granny standing in front of me to the teenagers and mostly 30 somethings in the crowd seemed to be basking in the positive energy. I mean, how cool is it that someone of Manu’s international level of fame would come out and support a small organization like Colombiage? And that we all had the opportunity to see him in the relatively small venue the Coronet.

His band was pared down to three people, so understandably the sound of his album couldnt be recreated. But what bothered me is that I could barely make out what distinguished one song from another. The pumped up bass throbbed incessantly across each track and the guitar playing seemed to be more intent on making rhythmic noise than etching out melodies. I couldnt hear any of the subtleties in his voice, could barely make out the words and the guitar playing was too repetitive to merit focused listening. In short, the music didnt seem as if it were meant to be listened to, but rather for drunken people to bob up and down to in somewhat feeling-less glee.

I hope it doesnt sound absurd, its just I dont know if I’m missing out on something, or I’ve suddenly become too old for rock concerts? What is appealing about the experience of being thrown together into a room to thrash our heads around to repetitive noise?

I had a very similar experience the other night at Cargo seeing the Spanish band El Guincho. Admittedly, I didnt know their music beforehand, however there were striking similarities.
el_guincho Three men on stage, thrashing about with high energy and fast guitars. I couldn’t distinguish the melodies, instruments or layers of sound. Everything melded together to create what I can only call noise. El Guincho’s leader, Pablo Díaz-Reixa, moved about so frenetically I suspect it must have been drug induced. Either way, I struggled to understand what everyone else was hearing that I obviously wasn’t…

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