Saturday night I was propelled back into 1972.
A friend gave us tickets to see Ringo Starr at the Greek Theater. I am not such a fan of Ringo’s solo stuff (can I even name any of his solo songs?), but he is a great drummer and hello! he was a Beatle. So there’s that.
The tickets were won at a charity event and they came with backstage passes. Which is kind of cool. If you’re cool. Which I’m not. And going backstage just magnifies my extreme lack of cool. But here’s the weird thing: Almost nobody backstage was cool. Dan Castellaneta, who does all the voices on The Simpsons was back there, and he is the embodiment of cool. Mostly because he doesn’t try to be. But that was it.
I don’t know if this is specific to Los Angeles, but the couple of times I’ve been lucky enough to do something like that, I’ve noticed that everyone backstage is ALL ABOUT BEING BACKSTAGE. No one knows who the hell anyone is back there—most people are too concerned with making sure they look like they belong—and everyone ends up looking awkward and uncomfortable. Everyone sizes everyone else up, wondering who you are and if they should know who you are. It’s just weird. The only advantage of getting in was that they had some snacks and a private bathroom. Aside from that, I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
We finally meandered out to our seats—which were Ah-May-Zing!—and we settled next to a woman who was 70 years old if she was a day, and she still had that funky vibe of a long-time groupie. She was a little pixie of a woman who wore her Sgt. Pepper–style jacket—epaulettes and all—rings on every finger, and those tell-tale stoner fingers—yellow with brown tips from years of smoking joints down to the nubs. She immediately leaned in and started telling us about every concert she’s been to see the Beatles as a group and individually. Her scent of patchouli and pot was overwhelming.
The second the music started, though, she stopped chatting with us and was all business. She was Old School, waving her lighter instead of an iPhone with the lighter app, singing along and dancing. Until the assholes behind us totally harshed her mellow and told her to sit down.
Now, I don’t know if this is specific to Los Angeles or not either, but I’ve noticed a trend at rock concerts (yes, I realize that phrase just aged me) is to SIT DOWN. In your seat. What the fuck is that? Yeah, there are physical seats there, but I generally believe that those should only be used during the slow songs. Otherwise, isn’t the whole point to going to a live show to get up, dance your ass off with thousands of other fans and sing along? In some circles that’s known as having fun. Maybe it’s the median age of the concerts I’ve been going to lately, but in L.A. they seemed to have mastered the art of either sitting and looking bored or doing the chair groove—sitting in the chair, bobbing their heads to the beat, maybe throwing in some shoulder action if they’re really rocking out.
The pixie looked so bummed at being asked to sit down but she did. Then she’d hear the first note of a song she’d love and up she’d go, and get her groove on. Until she was asked to sit again. I heard this exchange a few times and kind of got pissed. So I stood up. And made sure to shake my ass extra hard just to piss the group behind us off. I stood and danced for the rest of the show.
The concert ended up being kind of cool because Ringo’s band was made up of musicians from the ’70s and ’80s—guys like Edgar Winters (you haven’t lived until you’ve heard “Free Ride” live) and Gary Wright (if you’re under a certain age you may remember “Dreamweaver” from Wayne’s World. If you don’t even know what that means, you shouldn’t be here) played Ringo’s music as well as their own hits.
I suspect that Ringo would have been stuck behind a drum kit and wouldn’t have had many solo opportunities had he not been a Beatle, but the awesome thing is he doesn’t seem to take himself seriously. His Peace & Love schtick seems a little hokey after a while, but I think he genuinely believes in that, so more power to him. Plus, how many musicians would generously share the stage with so many awesome (and legendary) musicians. For that alone, it was a great show.
As far as the pixie goes, I can’t help but wonder how she manages to function in real life. But peace and love, honey.