I hated Zoo-Tunes.
I thought I would love it. I love the zoo, and am happy to support it. Seattle is a wonderful concert city. The weather is usually mild, and I enjoy the outdoors. And who doesn’t love a pic-nic? Especially AT a zoo, and with top-of-the-line musical entertainment.
And I knew what I was getting into. I had researched the Zoo-Tunes ticket: Members go for an outing, not the music. People talk over the music. People sneak in alcohol. It’s lawn seating = crammed in. But I had been ready for it. I bought VIP tickets–I would not have to deal with pushy people, or taller chairs in front of me. I paid my way out of the crowding, and probably the talkers too. I was confident.
But that’s not how it went down. Events in zoos are not for the music. And even paying VIP prices didn’t buy me out of talkers. People stood in front of me and weren’t told to sit. It was fairly obnoxious, only being redeemed by the Indigo Girls’ showmanship–they know what they’re doing and can capture even an unruly audience’s attention. By the end, even those who weren’t there for the music, and hadn’t heard of the Indigo Girls were captivated by the show.
Still, I’d never go back to Zoo-Tunes. It’s annoying.
I knew Red Butte Gardens would be much the same. And I was not going to camp in line. I did not want to get there extremely early in hopes of securing a good seat. I knew people would be drunk and talking. I knew people would probably stand in front of me, blocking my view.
Thus, my expectations were low.
I drove to the venue several weeks ahead of time to find the route and scope out parking. The lowest lot, farthest away from the venue, had an North exit. everyone else would cram into the closer parking lots and leave by the Western exit. I would rather trek up a hill in the beginning and walk back down, past all the slow drunk people blocking the roads on foot. And past the snail-trail of drunk-drivers slowly leaving past police escorts.
Also, I was in no rush to get to that line. I knew, even if we had gotten there at 8AM, and camped in the heat all day, that in the end the pushiest people will get the best seats. And Cool and I are not those people. I also knew from Zoo-Tunes experience, that even if you are lucky enough to make it to the front, the center, or an otherwise primo location–pushy people who come late will squeeze you out. And you can’t belly-ache about it without looking like a super-douche.
Even though doors opened at 6PM, we strolled up to the line at 5:45PM. Something old, pre-planning, overly-anxious me would never have done!
But as I expected, all the pushy people made it to the best lawn places. I saw people coming in half hour after the opener started, when nearly everyone had their sport secured–making their way to the front center and squeezing in. That’s just how it goes. People will be late and pushy–there’s no fighting that. And we got a good enough seat with a side view of the stage near the far right. And it was fine. And people weren’t severely crowding us. And we were lucky not to be next to any really inconsiderate drunks.
We had our picnic, sitting on a Lion King blanket while enduring the opener. Then, set-up for Brandi seemed to take forever, and I suspect they were intentionally waiting for dark to optimize their light show. It seemed a long wait for the band to get up there.
But they opened with my favorite song from the new album, “Firewatcher’s Daughter.”
Brandi was sensitive to the crowd, as always, and really gave the feeling that she personally loved the venue and cared about each individual as fans. She did the obligatory city-pandering saying she loves Salt Lake City, which I always find disingenuous (from ANY artist) but know is how you play the game. Best of all, she was not tired or fatigued from the big show she WAS excited for-Red Rocks-just the night before.
I was happy they dug out some older tunes and didn’t just stick to the new album. “The Story” is always amazing live and those Bear Creek selections are my personal favorites.
There were many references to “testify” “pray” “faith” and churcyy-themed stuff. I’m not a big fan of that, and I’m glad I’m not FROM Salt Lake City, because I guess that stuff comes with the territory here. Literally. You can’t escape the Mormon history or current LDS influence.
I had heard the live version of “Turpentine” on the symphony album, and she played it for us. I have to say any talking on live albums is interesting for the first listen. Maybe it’s funny for the first 3 listens through the CD. After that it gets tedious and repetitive–you’ve heard that story before. And even though I knew about the audience signing harmony–and was tired of hearing the set-up for it on the CD–in person it is spectacular. You really feel a part of the band and the whole audience has this connected, magical feeling. It was really cool to be a part of. I’m glad she’s still trotting that out.
The night was nearly perfect. Sure, the set-list had been done before. Talk about gay marriage, talk about the darkness in the love song, all that hadn’t been the first run-through. But though it was not fresh and innovative material, it still felt like the band’s truth. And even rehearsed, that’s special to see played out.
I wish Brandi would play something more upbeat at the end and in the encore, but all 6(?) of her shows I attended would wind down. I think it would be better if instead of starting on a high note and working her way downward to quiet songs, she did more like DMB and played one slow, and one fast encore song. Because by the encore, I’m all jazzed up and wanting to end on an energetic one, not 3 slow sappy ones.
But aside from those teeny observations, just the feeling of the night was as close to perfect as you could get. It’s this intangible thing, separate from the seating, the setlist, or the talking. I would go to a Brandi concert any time!