It’s a Danish shoegazer outfit called “The Raveonettes,” as in “Rave-On.” It says as much on their guitar amps, one “Rave,” the other “On.” We, the audience of 100, duly note that this as they pummel us with heavy beats, wall-of-sound guitars and mumbled lyrics.
I’m seated on the edge of the balcony and definitely not raving. At 44, I’m too old (or too proud) for any form of gyrating kinetics. I am but a mere observer. A fly on the ceiling. Below me, a sea of bright-screened phones dance and glimmer, imprinting the experience on flash drives. No one is smoking. There are no cigarette lighters either. Concert community building, once a ritual performed with marijuana, has been replaced by a communion of Facebook activity. Instead of toking, they’re tweeting. Instead of listening, they’re texting.
I came of age during classic rock’s retirement party. Bands seemed to be on the road more often then, or at least it felt that way. Arena shows, too, not these wimpy club dates. In those less paranoid times, my parents allowed my brother and I to see anything we wanted, though we never attended the same show on principle. He saw Kiss, Ted Nugent, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rush. I saw Kansas, Yes, Styx, Foreigner, Cheap Trick, The Doobie Brothers, and Genesis. OK, we both went to see Yes, but we sat in different sections and definitely didn’t hang out together afterwards.
Drugs were such a major part of those events. Joints floated down each row at a non-stop pace. Everyone had a cigarette lighter too and knew when to wave it in the air. The next day our smoke-infested iron-on concert shirts were mandatory apparel. Through air guitar pantomimes, we would brag about how “unreal” they sounded, how the lights were “bad ass” and how we all got stoned on “the fumes” — because, as rebellious as I sound, I didn’t actually partake in the drugs. I was 14, after all. Give me some credit.
But that era is gone. Hallucinogens have been replaced by smart phones and social networks. And the only arena shows these days are country acts and Lady Gaga. Today everyone of interest plays in smaller venues to smaller crowds. But oh how they’re documented.
The Raveonettes, Houston, April 13th, Fitzgeralds.