Sunday, March 4, 2012

The More Things Change

Alex Wolff of Nat and Alex Wolff,
Brighton Music Hall, 2/24/12

So many changes since I last posted...
Some pressures have eased, while others have not, but that's what keeps life interesting, isn't it?
Right now, the dripping faucet in my kitchen has morphed into a major plumbing project, there is an escaped gecko hiding somewhere in the house, and there's still never enough time/money/what-have-you.
Some things change, and some stay the same.

I started thinking about how things change when we took my daughter to her first concert last week. She's had a recent interest in Nat and Alex Wolff, formerly featured on Nickelodeon's "The Naked Brothers Band" several years ago.  They're still young (14 and 17),  but there's some definite musical talent there, and they certainly weren't hard to listen to, even for us chaperones.  They also have a dedicated fan base, of which my daughter is one of the more enthusiastic.

The show was held in a small venue, a less overwhelming first concert experience for a twelve-year-old than one of the large stadiums the more "popular" acts could fill.  It turned out to be a great show, and my daughter and her friend were among the many fans who had the opportunity to meet the boys, get autographs, and even have pictures taken with them.  A terrific experience, all around.

It was interesting to me, though, to see that although the screeching "fan girl" attitude was much the same as it may have been when I was twelve or thirteen, some things have definitely changed.  Instead of dancing and really getting into the music and the atmosphere as we used to back in the days of waving lighters, most of this audience was far more intent on taping/taking pictures with their phones (note the iphone in the foreground of the picture, above). I lost count of the number of phones held up in the sea of mostly pre-teen girls.

The performers had to encourage the audience to clap along (since, of course, phones had to be set aside to actually clap!).  They were clearly an appreciative and excited audience, regardless, and I can understand why they were so determined to tape the performance; I can only imagine how excited I would have been to have had the opportunity to videotape Aerosmith or Bob Seger, or any of the other concerts I went to. Back then, it was "no cameras" for the most part.  We all would have been thrilled to have something other than the old Polaroid Onestep (a bit too bulky to sneak into concerts!).

And yet...I couldn't help thinking that they were missing out on some of the real thrill of a live concert.  After all, how much can you fully experience something if you are merely a videographer?  With your eyes primarily on a small screen in your hand instead of the stage before you, the excitement simply can't attain the same level.  The audience was certainly enthusiastic, but not in the same way I remember.

That's the way of most changes, I suppose.  There are pros and cons, good parts and not so good parts.
My daughter and the rest of the audience that night may have seemed a bit less completely immersed in the experience than I might have been at that age, but they do have plenty of memories in pictures and video.
Maybe it's a good trade-off.   Just as Nat and Alex have changed, evolving from those cute kids in that TV show to "real" musicians, everything needs to change and evolve eventually, and I suppose the concert experience is not immune. And in the end, this new generation doesn't know any different -- it's only us old folks who see it.

If they are missing out, they don't know it.  And maybe that's just how it's supposed to be.

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