Tag Archives: the wall

Overrated Shit #4: Mumford & Sons live, 09/02/13

I’ve been to two choreographed, big-time concerts in my life. I saw Roger Waters do The Wall a couple of summers ago in Indianapolis, and if you can afford it (it isn’t cheap), I’d recommend it. It’s an incredible mix of live and digital effects, along with the awesome soundtrack, of course. And the scale is something which isn’t often replicated by other live shows, although I’d imagine Madonna and U2, to name a couple, could probably pull it off.

The other staged show I witnessed was the New Kids on the Block, back in 1990 in Peoria, Ill. A plethora of choreographed dancing, a big video screen, at least one of the Kids floating over the crowd during songs. Lots and lots of teenage girls screaming. While the music wasn’t much to write home about, the show was pretty impressive.

So when I saw Mumford & Sons on Labor Day at Klipsch near Indy, these are the two shows I thought of over the course of the night’s tightly choreographed show. Unfortunately, Mumford came off more New Kids and less Waters.

It started with the big video screens. I began to notice how every shot was perfect, the framing, the lighting, the cuts. It was like the final version of a concert video, that well done. Thing is, you can’t do that unless you know precisely where every band member is going to be at all times. I also started to realize that none of the backing band was ever on video, even if soloing. And when someone (crew? member of opening bands?) ran onstage with a cowbell and was playing with Mumford & Sons, the cameras never cut to what I now know to be the only spontaneous act in that show.

The last thing that really struck me, though, was each song sounded pretty much exactly like the album version. No, Mumford and the fellas weren’t lip syncing. But they weren’t re-working the arrangements much, jamming, changing instrumentation, nothing much to distinguish what they are capable of as a live band compared to what they create in the studio.

That’s what frustrates me. I have friends who saw Mumford & Sons in a club in Louisville a year ago, and they raved about the show, the energy, the jamming. I saw none of that. I saw a band determined to give each of their Grammy-loving fans the same show, from Boston to Bakersfield. An Applebee’s-ization of music.

It really sucked the heart out of the show for me. When I go to a live show, it’s the opportunity to see improvisation, re-working of the catalog, how the band connects with the audience. At Mumford & Sons, I was served the equivalent of the opening number at the Academy Awards. And while I know some people gobble that up – just as many of the people at that Labor Day show did – I’m not interested in swallowing that bile.

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Overrated Shit No. 2: Pizza King

Yummy. Let's eat pizza.

I’m probably going to make some enemies with this one. Few things are sacred in this world. In eastern Indiana, you don’t mess with the King.

To start, I will concede that I occasionally love me some Royal Feast. Greasy, cheesy, meaty … mmmmm. Calling in your order from the telephone at your table is fun. For those of you who have been to Clara’s in Richmond, you’ve seen the double-decker bus that is in the middle of the restaurant. Pizza King does do some unique things, and its product is good cheap pizza.

The problem is, that while it tastes like good cheap pizza, it doesn’t cost like good cheap pizza. It’s a bit pricey for what it is. In general, I’d rather eat pie from the now-defunct T-Dubs, local fave Greeks or even Papa John’s. I’ll either get a better pizza (T-Dubs and Greeks) or a better deal (Papa John’s).

Another reason I’m not ringing the king anytime soon: The way the ingredients are all ground up reminds me of the student sausage scene from Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Not appetizing.

Sorry, Pizza King. You are overrated.

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