A couple of weeks ago, I put on a trendy outfit, met up with my best friend, and got a little stoney Maloney (for possible and future drug test purposes this phrase just means I ate a lot of sugar in the form of Sourpatch Kids) before going to a Lily Allen concert here in Hollywood. She’s been my favorite artist since her debut album, Alright, Still floated across the pond in 2006, so I was very excited.
As a stand-up comedian, I’ve gotten so used to the structure of comedy shows—whether it be in the form of the aforementioned, or improv (short or long-form!), sketch, some interesting alternative comedy, or whatever it may be: when the show starts, the show starts. There may be a door time, but the show usually starts 30 minutes after, and you watch a line up of people back to back designed to make you laugh and keep the pace going until the headliner hits it home. (Granted, not all comedy shows are this perfect, but we’ll save that for another article on another paycheck.) So I had completely forgotten that normal concerts abide by different rules completely. Show listed at 7 PM? Expect the person you’re there to see to show up on stage 10 hours later, if not the next day completely—and in the meantime, enjoy…the openers (severe shudder).
I’m sure I’ve seen good openers. I’m sure that my career is the equivalent of an opener (or lower) right now, so I’m not blindly and blatantly throwing shade. I think it’s just human nature to sigh in impatience when an opener comes on. Sure, you want to cheer for them, you’re hyped to be at the show, and who knows…maybe they’ll be decent? Unless you’re seeing the biggest name in the game in that moment, the opener will for sure be someone you’ve never heard of, and the only thing they can guarantee is that they’ll get you more excited for the headliner while also teaching you a valuable lesson in patience.
Look, the opener for Ms. Allen wasn’t horrible, so I won’t say who it was, (also because I’ve forgotten their name), but to put my feelings into words: I spent most of his set with a permanent cringe face and doing comedy bits with my best friend on the stage design. His set up was a laptop (we couldn’t hide this better?) on a folding table you’d take to a birthday party at a park and he sang. I think?
And before you write me off as a bitter stoner (once again, that is just what the kids call someone with possible & potential diabetes because they eat so much sugar), know that my biggest gripe is that the music was painfully overproduced. The first song started at the highest of auto-tune octaves, only for the chorus to drop down to what I assumed to be his normal register, and skeptically squinted the whole performance to clarify whether his lips and breathing were moving with the song. The artist was definitely inspired by The Weeknd’s music, but it was almost to the point of just covering his songs.
I don’t know enough about music to be tearing this kid apart like a URL Badman (that one’s for the REAL fans), and by no means is that what I’m actually trying to do. The reason I felt the most jilted by his set, was that it sounded over-produced. It was evident that this opener had the lungs, had the voice, all the workings of a good singer, but with the auto-tune cranked up on every level and adlib of the 4-count modern day pop song, his natural talent was deeply buried.
And he’s probably not to blame, there are probably record deals he’s trying to appease, and drunk crowds he assumes will like him better for a familiar melody they can dance to, but when it sounds like 4 different people on one track against blaring bass…we lose you.
Then again, maybe he did great and maybe I’m just what the youngins call “old.”