Arts Desk

How to Endure a Bad Opening Act

The other day, I beat a few thousand spry college kids to stand at the front of the stage at the Charlottesville, Va., Wilco show. Unfortunately, that was only the first leg of the general-admission triathlon. The second: Maintaining my position–and staying awake–during the monotonous opening act. Though there were times when I wanted to give up and sit on folding chairs with other geriatrics, I remained standing through several two-chord jamfests. Here's how:

Good posture. You, too, can make it through terrible opening acts back-pain free by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly, and feel your body's weight through your heels. Lift your head and chest as if a string is pulling you up from the sky.

Stretching. Take the opportunity between songs to clap for the bad opening band with your hands above your head. Then, pretend that you are scanning for friends in the crowd, and rotate your torso. Finally, touch your toes and retie your shoes.

Music games. Turn a less-than-enthralling show into an opportunity to sharpen your music-perception skills. Guess the tempo, in beats-per-minute, of the current song, and then check yourself against a watch. Predict the number of chord changes in the upcoming song and bet your friend.

Cell-phone entertainment. As a last resort, break out your cellphone and text
friends about how boring the show is. You can also download and play Chuzzle, a very addictive cell-phone game, that's somewhere between Snood and a Rubik Cube.

With these strategies, I almost emerged victorious: I made it through the opening act and watched an excellent Wilco set while standing feet away from Jeff Tweedy. Sadly, I came just short of winning the third event of the general admission triathlon, as Pat Sansone's guitar pick sailed right past me and into the clutches of some UVA frat boy.

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  • Don

    Actually, I recently recounted my horror story of having to sit through an entire Wilco show, full of the most banal faux-Americana and Jam-band noodling, between the times Sonic Youth played and the time Sonic Youth would be out talking to fans. I'm not a UVA frat boy, so Wilco's appeal is lost on me.

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  • Tim

    Dude, Wilco hasn't been faux-Americana since like 1995. Which, coincidentally, is approximately the last time Sonic Youth was relevant.

  • Mark Athitakis

    Back in my day, we just heckled opening bands.

  • Grandpa

    Back in my day in the Korean "Conflict", WILCO stood for "Will Comply".
    Keep up the creative writing, Ms Sadie.

  • Corey

    I've never understood why bands choose opening acts that they know their audiences won't be interested in seeing. A two chord jam band would hold the attention of someone like Keller Williams fans or attendees of the String Cheese Incident, but not Wilco. They should be picking an angst-ridden experimental pop band with at least three chords, preferably diminished.

  • Don

    Dude, Wilco hasn’t been faux-Americana since like 1995.

    My apologies, their show must have been entirely Jam-band noodling without any Faux-Americana.

  • Tim

    I don't know what planet you're from, Don.

  • John D.

    Great article by a great writer! Hey, watch it with those refs to geriatric needs! :)

  • John D.

    Someone needs to take Don out to the woodshed!

  • Maria

    Heh, this is hilarious!
    I didn't know about your other blogs till now, and am so happy I found you again!

  • Christopher McGovern

    Hey! Remember me from the Avett Brothers concert at the Webster in NY? I was the guy with the black hat and I told you I was also a singer/songwriter.
    If this is the same Sadie Dingfelder (And I hope so), you are an awesome writer nonetheless! :)
    I wasn't sure if you were reading these responses lately, but please keep writing! And I'd love to hear you play the violin!