Saturday, April 11, 2009

At the Hall of Fame

So here we are in Cleveland for a show tonight. To kill the afternoon we go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I (Dan here) have mixed feelings about it, but I'm glad we went. There's some cheesy parts to it, but overall it rises above the threshold of “somebody at least gave a shit”. The architecture is stunning, I really love the building – big glass pyramid, tall, very postmodern overlapping levels inside, balconies that don't connect to anything, big atrium you could drop down 6 stories in. This by the side of Lake Erie, near the football stadium, WWII submarine museum, and a skate park next door. A lot of families inside, somewhat cooler/hipper moms & dads in their 40's, with kids all in their tweens or teens, clearly getting more cultural education than I was at that age. A bit touristy, but not completely exploitational, either.

You know, it was like 10 years ago when I saw a Superchunk show in Boston – and this particular night, Mac comes onstage all fired up because the band just saw Bruce Springsteen at the Boston Garden (Fleet Center, whatever). Probably the best Superchunk show I ever saw, they were really completely inspired that night.

So currently the special exhibit at the Hall of Fame is devoted to Bruce Springsteen (upper 3 floors devoted to him). Guitars, posters, clothes, albums, listening stations, videos, magazine articles, the desk where he writes, etc. One of the freaky things is there's this thick scrapbook under glass, opened to a page reviewing a show from 1973 (in Crawdaddy Magazine). And this show happens to be in New York, at the club Kenny's Castaways. (We played our first-ever performance as Victor Bravo out at Kenny's Castaways a couple years ago now). And part of me is thinking, “oh, well I'm sure Springsteen had a hundred people packed in there”, but the article goes on to describe a crowd of only about 30 people, with maybe 12 knowing who Bruce is. Which is a jarringly accurate description of some of our early shows there.

So here we are now coming from a Bruce Springsteen exhibit, playing a show later that night. Am I as jazzed up as Superchunk was that one night? Well, not so much, I kind of have tangled-up feelings about it. Honestly, Springsteen's zenith was just a little bit before my time. And in some ways the whole celebrity-flash of the Hall of of Fame is pushing some of my bad buttons along with my good ones. I saw a video of Joe Strummer saying re: the Clash, “Man, when you have the right people making up a band, that is a miracle, do not screw with that under any means. We learned that lesson bitterly (shakes head)”, and I could applaud and hoot for that. But I can also see the handwritten lyrics to “Because the Night” by Springsteen and Patti Smith (one of my major, early eye-opening artists) and have a lot of my confusion and jealousy and frustration rear up, too. If this is what they got huge for, if someone could sing “Because the night belongs to lovers”, well, I'm up all night all the damn time and that's the polar opposite of my experience. It feels like there's a whole lot I need to do and say, and it's the opposite of what gets said by a lot of music, and it confuses and perplexes me. So I've personally got a lot of work to do – that's what I seem to be taking away from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there's a whole lot in there, and yet there's a whole lot to be said that's been left out so far, too. So I'd better get off my ass and get in this club tonight, stretch out, and lay down as ferocious set of beats as I can, and I'd better get up tomorrow and get back to work and writing, too.

Funny thing, this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's both nourishing and challenging and somewhat difficult to process right now. We'll see how that works out tonight.

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