An Evening with Rush – spoiled??
I’ve been a fan of Rush since before I was allowed to go to their concerts. Whether its 2112 taking notes from Ayn Rand’s “Anthem,” a mathematical cacophony of syncopation and time signature changes, or social and political lyrics by the non-singing drummer, how could a mind get bored? Recently I was lucky enough to see them again at Summerfest with my brothers and a sister-in-law shortly after a downpour of rain. We had the cheap seats in the bleachers not under the shed roof but we were third row center and could see everything including three of the house-owned five video screens. The audio was clear and the mix not bad. At one point early in the show I turned around to see a full rainbow, end to end, over Lake Michigan. It was going to be a good night.
I’ve always liked Howard Ungerleider’s lighting no matter that I didn’t even know who he was the first couple of times I saw his work and this show was no exception. There was good and yet restrained use of each type of lighting unit and effect so that I visually didn’t get tired even from the bleachers. Some older songs, although still lit all with movers, were in open white. LED strips were only used in a few songs and even the HES Showguns were used to specific taste and not just a constant blast away effect. This was all well integrated with the video which alternated between cameras on the three guys, video clips and blank screens. Again, thank you for artistic choices that let me concentrate appropriately on the artists and music.
About halfway through the show, two barley pop influenced concert goers in row one (of the bleachers) caught my eye with hand waving. It took me a couple of songs to figure out what was going on but it certainly seemed to me that between arms in the air, furrowed brows and animated discussion they were unhappy. Turns out that they didn’t like the video screens blank and they wanted Neil, Geddy and Alex on the screens all the time. This bothered me and I’m not sure if anyone else will agree but my thinking follows that of some scenes Lin and I have played out at Disney Animal Kingdom years ago.
A lady walked in through Genesis Gardens, looked at her park map and exclaimed, “Why this is just a zoo!” Is there something wrong with that? Other times I would stand at the marmoset pen in front of the Tree of Life and point out the tiny creatures to people in a hurry to go ride something. It worked: they stopped.
I am concerned we are getting to an age where we need to have something on a screen in front of us all the time, that we want to be fed education and entertainment, that we want our own voyeuristic access to any activity, that cell phone video clips are important to grab and post on YouTube. Will we soon visit the Redwood Forest and Old Faithful through iPhones and not be there to hear the wind through the branches and smell the mineral deposits? Why is it wrong to have someone present art or nature in their own view, to tell their own story? Does it always have to be the viewer’s story? Or am I worried too much.
I don’t know. It just bothered me that those two guys couldn’t sit back and enjoy the presentation, as opposed to assuming something was wrong, and be in the moment which was really about the music and not the people. It was, after all, an Evening with Rush.