My sister and I attended Death From Below, billed as an Indi-Electro Dance Party, at The Music Room in Old Fourth Ward. The music was pretty awesome, but unfortunately my HTC phone recordings did not do it justice. Also unfortunate, the one recording my sister made on her new iPhone 5 I talked over the entire time complaining about the beer selection (but honestly, who really likes PBR?). In other news, the iPhone is seriously awesome when it comes to making recordings in extremely loud places.
That knowledge in hand, my sister and I- and her fully charged phone- headed to Aaron’s Amphitheater for a country music concert. I like all kinds of music, but if I had to rank them country would probably not be at the top of the list…or near the top of the list for that matter. My sister, on the other hand, loves country music– and Southern rap…it’s a toss up, really. Anyway, the following is a mix of a few concert highlights. It features each of the bands and a lot of crowd response, and probably some off key singing courtesy of your favorite Hogues.
Since I am not a huge country fan, I approached this concert with some apprehension as to whether I’d have a good time. Though I knew a few songs from some of the artists performing, I knew I wouldn’t know a majority of the songs played, and I like concerts better when I can sing along. Still, I always like live music, so I knew I wouldn’t have a terrible time. We had lawn seats, so we were a good distance from the stage, but that really didn’t matter once the bands started playing because the music was so loud. At times, I could not understand what they were saying/singing, but the crowd seemed to have a positive reaction to these high energy performances, so I suppose all that volume was a good thing.
The first band to perform was Eden’s Edge. I had never heard of this band before seeing them on stage, and the crowd didn’t seem to know them well either. They tried their best to get the crowd going, and our lack of enthusiasm did not hinder their performance. I did not enjoy this band at all. I like country music, but I don’t really like female country singers. The lead singer’s voice was high and twangy and I could not get past how grating it was for me. My sister tended to agree:
I was not a fan. Her voice was whiny and annoying. I was happy that they only played three songs because I don’t know how much more I could handle. Her voice when she said ‘Straight to the grave’ is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me. The AAAAAAAAAA in Amen made me scrunch up my nose and turn away-ick.
The next band to perform was Eli Young Band. This band was actually the reason we came to the concert in the first place. This was our second time seeing them. Their music has a touch of rock to it and I enjoy a departure from the country pop music that is so popular right now. The crowd new this band well too, and there was a big difference in their reaction and interaction with Eli Young that the previous act. The crowd was on its feet, singing and dancing along with the music. Several times, the singer stopped to let the crowd sing along, which was interesting to observe. This performance was clearly better received by the audience, a fact made obvious by their increased excitement and engagement. As expected, my sister enjoyed this performance better as well:
The next band was the Eli Young Band, who I am a big fan of. I have seen them in concert once before and was happy to see them again. They have recently released a new song that I am REALLY a fan of, when they sang it I literally got goosebumps. I enjoyed their portion of the concert the most. Eli Young was more toned down and mellow, which I think is part of what I like about them. They aren’t whiny like the other two bands we saw with female lead singers. I like when he sings the chorus more because everyone knows it. I do not like when they talk because I came to listen to them sing not talk to me. It’s cool when they have the crowd sing along to the song with them because it makes us feel like we are involved in the show.
The third band to perform was Little Big Town. I do not like this band. At all. They have several songs on the radio and I do not like one of them. My sister loves them. This was the last band to perform before Rascal Flatts, and the most popular (and successful) band to perform up to this point. Their portion of the show was a big production compared to the two acts before them. The band also had a different format than the previous. Where Eden’s Edge and Eli Young Band each had one lead singer, this band has four members and each one is featured on different songs. I didn’t know that beforehand because I feel like I only ever hear the female singers on the radio. There were two women in the group, one had a tolerable voice and the other made my skin crawl. Sometimes I feel like country music singers are trying to convince us that we are country by singing as twangily (I’m making this a word) as possible. One interesting thing they did during their performance was cover a Lady Gaga song. They performed Born This Way with a country twist, which apparently means adding a lot of banjo- which I was okay with because I happen to love the banjo. I thought it was really interesting how they could take a pop song (a decidedly pop song at that) and turn it country by changing the arrangement and adding a few instruments. The crowd around us (mostly young people) seemed to react positively to this cover and I thought it was pretty cool myself. The band played a few more of their hits including Pontoon which is a song that I cannot stand but was hugely popular over the summer. That said, the live performance was pretty good, and the crowd was definitely into it, which I can respect. This band seemed more focused on the production than the previous two, and I think that was evident in the sound. They had more musicians and their songs seemed louder…a lot of times I felt like they were just yelling. All in all though, it wasn’t a terrible performance, and parts of it were pretty good. My sister’s experience was pretty similar:
When Little Big Town came on I felt like they had too much going on with their show. There were a lot more lights and bass. When they started singing their first song I actually took a step back because it was so loud. The girls voices have such range, which is great, but with how they had their sound set up it was really overpowering. I really liked the Little Big Town cover of Born This Way. All the added banjo and upright bass is a really neat sound that I like. But I think that their mics/sound set up again was not right because they were too loud and did not sound like that good of quality. During Pontoon when the beat was really loud I could feel it in my chest.
Finally, Rascal Flatts came out to perform. Since this was the band everyone came to see, you could really feel the crowd’s excitement when the lights when down and their intro music began. They started out playing some type of techno/electro song to accompany a light show while the band took their places. This part of the show kind of reminded me of the music at The Music Room the night before. Finally the lights came up and the band started singing right away. The crowd freaked out. They sang a few bars and then played some up beat music that really got the crowd going before launching into their latest popular song Banjo. I was very excited because I love this song- again I love love the banjo. The crowd sang loudly and was very riled up during this first song. The lead singer did a good job of pumping up the crowd during this number as well. Seems every time you yell “Atlanta” or “Georgia” through a microphone people lose their minds. The cheering was incredibly loud. It was interesting seeing the crowd’s reaction to the show and a ton of fun being a part of it. My sister seemed to have a similar response:
They opened with a more techo beat than a country feel. I liked it in the context of the concert but I don’t think I would have it I had heard it in one of their songs on the radio. When Rascal Flatts came out and started singing the beginning of a song I didn’t know I was not happy, but when I recognized it as being Banjo I was really excited. I couldn’t help but dance and sing along.
My sister and I both enjoyed this concert. I think the biggest difference between our two experiences all pertain to the actual bands’ performances. We both love live music and attending concerts, so we are both happy any event like that, but obviously we have a better time if the music is in a genre we actively listen to, rather than merely appreciate. I had a better time at the indie-electro dance party, and she had a better time at the country concert. We had similar reactions to the twanginess (making up a new word again) of a few of the bands, and we also enjoyed the same parts. If her experience was better than mine, it was merely due to her being more familiar with the content. I think those attending the concert all had a certain set of expectations in attending the concert, and since this concert met them, the majority of people in attendance had similar reactions. I doubt many of them were analyzing the sonic rhetoric involved in the performances, but that was my only purpose for being their either. Chiefly, my sister and I and everyone else went to have a good time, and the act put on by these bands certainly delivered, thanks in no small part to the rhetorical choices put into the music and the design of the show.