A Farewell to Kings

Those secrets I mentioned in my last post are coming. I’m in the process of setting up my Ravelry store, and once that’s done, all will be revealed. In the meantime, a pressing issue has arisen; one that requires immediate attention.

Along with all the wonderful feedback about my Retrofit pattern (thanks everyone!), I’ve received a surprising number of emails and comments about the accompanying bio, in which I declare my status as a Rush fan as “former.” Some of you are quite rankled by this, which is really quite an education for me. Until now, I assumed that people stopped liking Rush when they turned twenty-one.

Why this assumption? Of all the concert crowds of which I’ve been a part, the ones that assembled for Rush had the most specific demographic: entirely white, mostly male, between the age of thirteen and twenty-one. The women who attended Rush concerts looked, for all intents and purposes, to have been dragged along by their boyfriends. (For the record, I never dragged a female of the human species to any of the Rush concerts I attended, mostly because, at that time, I couldn’t get a girl to come within ten feet of me). The only female Rush fan I’ve ever met was a music student with a concentration in the Baroque period. Which pretty much explains her interest in Rush all by itself1.

Now, I had a great time at the Rush concerts I went to. I was enthralled by the lasers, the video screen, the complex arrangements, and the subject matter of Neal Peart’s lyrics: dystopian societies, nuclear annihilation, medieval stuff, and . . . um, Lord of the Rings. You know, stuff that turns any fifteen-year-old geek’s crank.

But then I saw them on the Hold Your Fire tour (I am not doing the math on that one), and I realized something: very little of the sound I was hearing was being generated by the three guys on the stage2. The other people in my section must have realized the same thing, because everyone was staring at the stage with a vacant, glazed look that no amount of pot-smoking could account for. And it wasn’t just my section, either.  Someone had pulled the plug out of the arena, and the drain was the stage itself.

There wasn’t much to be done after that. With a decent set of speakers, I could produce the same experience in my living room, without having to put up with drunken fans, long lines, and cigarette smoke. It was probably around that same time that Lord of the Rings lost its charm.

These days I have no interest in big arena concerts. They’re too impersonal, and the tickets are a massive ripoff ($20 “service charge” anyone?) I’d much rather see local independent bands at the nearest hole in the wall. And then, of course, there’s Yo La Tengo.

1 At least one of the people who wrote to inquire about my “former” status is female. You are very, very rare.

2 Not long after the show, I learned from a magazine article that most of the music was being generated by computers behind the stage. I also learned that the computers were programmed to resequence if the band made a mistake.


  • Noelle says:

    I’m a girl and I like Rush….but I’ve never been a die hard fan. I’ve always disliked arena concerts for the same reasons you state. Too much hype, not enough connection with the audience.

  • Lee Ann says:

    re, 1: Yep, Rush girl fans are rare. đŸ™‚ I think I was the only girl in my section who knew the lyrics and didn’t have the “I am arm-candy” glaze about the eyes. But I’ve been a writer and avid reader since I was 9, so my rarity as a Rush fan is at least explicable. Also, I have a propensity to swoon over a solid bass line.

    I live in MontrĂ©al, where most of the concerts I see are of the intimate variety, and while I don’t love the distance (and the price) that the arena carries, I have actually made an exception to see Rush here three times in the arena, and been over the moon with their performance all three times. Mostly because I can’t believe that these guys still rock the house the way they do(they look a LOT older), and it was very clear that it was all them, no enhancement. I did not see them when I was a younger fan…first concert was at age 39…so it’s very possible that their earlier shows were more engineered. These shows in MontrĂ©al, the fans were jumping up and down and hollering, the playing was so good, and the reports afterward were all of the “holy crap, that rocked” variety.

    Tickets were pricey, true, but… “Red Barchetta” makes me cry. That and cashmere are worth the agony :-}

    It’s no longer medieval stuff for Rush…it’s snakes and arrows now (do with that what you will), neon-lit washing machines on stage, and jokes about aging in a very young world of metalheads. The Lord of the Rings has been sent back to its proper place in literary history, where it belongs. đŸ™‚

    I completely agree with you about indie music and smaller venues being far more agreeable and rewarding. The best jazz festival concerts I’ve seen here have all been in small venues (and MontrĂ©al’s definition of jazz for the purposes of the festival is extremely wide…we’re talking Ani DiFranco and Arthur H…). Still waiting for Jamie Lidell to stop cancelling his appearances here, but oh well.

    Thanks for addressing the “pressing issue” đŸ™‚ It’s nice to see you blogging more often, Jesse.

  • TheAmpuT says:

    Girl. Rush fan. Been many times, and am not a musician. Funny, though…my favorite band right now? Yo La Tengo. hahaha
    Can’t wait to hear more about the sweater.

  • Michelle says:

    Funny…I wrote about Rush a couple of weeks ago on Lime n Violet’s Daily Chum, and I described them as a “guilty pleasure” of mine. I heard about that, too! I guess the Rush love is stronger than we thought!

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