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Columns > Note for Note - Holly Isbister

Published: 2005/10/12
by Holly Isbister

Rocktoberfest

I’m pretty sure there was a Budweiser sponsored event by this name, but whatever, I’m stealing it. Fall again and damned if this time of year doesn’t get me reminiscing about past autumns and all the trials and tribulations of my own boring life (I’ll spare you the gory details). What is it about this season that makes each day feel like there’s a spark in the air? Is it because the months between September and December are nature’s last hurrah – it’s last bold burst of life before its brutal death at winter’s cold hands? It’s a dynamic season, often flourishing and perishing before we’ve had a chance to realize we aren’t wearing shorts and t-shirts anymore. But best of all, it’s tour season again. No more roasting in 100 degree days in an open field in the middle of no where. No more trying to see 10 bands in 10 hours, or driving 10 hours to see 30 bands in 3 days. No more funnel cake or plastic wristbands that you can never find scissors to cut off. And my personal favorite: NO MORE CAMPING!
Nay! The bands come to you! And you can even shower after the show if you’re so inclined. In Chicago, the September and October rosters alone have been enough to nearly send me into debt. Beck at the Riviera, Sigur Ros at the Chicago Theater, John Mayer Trio that same night with Ray Lamontagne at the House of Blues, The Duo at the Abbey, Raq at Schuba’s, Fiery Furnaces, Rose Hill Drive, Death Cab for Cutie, Son Volt, My Morning Jacket, Devendra Banhart, Black Crowes…the list goes on and on. After blowing a wad on summer festival season, its hard to believe people have the means to hit the fall tour season with full force.
Here’s something to consider for your autumn concert schedule: earplugs. For all of you afraid of looking dorky, just consider how dorky those massive mauve earplugs might look on you at 55. Consider this: some ear plugs can actually enhance the sound of the show you are seeing. Sensaphonic ear plugs and in-ear monitors are a must have by many of your favorite bands including but not limited to: Umphrey’s McGee, Primus, The Mars Volta, Medeski, Martin and Wood and Robert Randolph and the Family Band. If you aren’t ready to shell out the time and money to get custom plugs like the ones supplied by Sensaphonic, you can pick up a cheap foam pair at your local drug store. Three bucks is a very reasonable price for being able to hear music (oh yeah, and your friends and family) at an old age.
On a completely unrelated subject, I’m still trying to get over my natural distrust of Apple laptops on stage. I recently saw Something for Robots open for the Benevento/Russo Duo in Milwaukee and sure enough, I was caught like a deer in headlights by the shiny white exterior and glowing apple logo of the laptop on stage. I’m certain that there are beautiful sounds being produced and barriers being broken by this new wave of music technology, but inevitably I just can’t shake the feeling that the person tinkling on the keyboard in the glowing light of their monitor is checking email. What are you doing up there? Can we see? Do you have instant messenger?
Musician4U: Hey what’s up Joe?
Joe7283471983472384738979999999: Not much man. What’s goin’ on?
Musician4U: Ah not much, just playing a gig. There’s this dude in the front row who is sweating like a pig and looks like he wants to gouge my eyeballs out. Other than that, tour’s great.
Joe7283471983472384738979999999: Are you rocking his face?
Musician4U: Oh totally. I’m about to blow his mind. LOL
Joe7283471983472384738979999999: Sweet. I’m off to meet up with this chick I met on My Space. I’ll link you her profile later, gotta run.
Musician4U: C U later

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