Everyone seems to have an opinion about ClearChannel and Live Nation, but such discussions are usually abstract -- especially when punctuated with "man" and "dude" and "down with capitalism." So when I headed to Diesel last week for Live Nation's season-kickoff party, I figured I'd see some of the reality. In true Pittsburgh fashion, it was pretty "real" -- I mean, Donnie Iris was there. That, and watching natty executives gush about Fall Out Boy (does anyone else?) was about the size of it.
Oh, and the concert announcements. Over the course of a Pittsburgh summer, there's usually a handful of big outdoor shows I'm ready to weasel rides to Burgettstown for, but, man -- Rush might be it. To catch the road warriors, you might do better at small venues -- like Adrian Belew's recent kick-ass shred session at Club Café with The Bears.
Speaking of Diesel, Saturday night got off to a good start at that club with Ben Hardt's debut showing. The former Like Summer guitarist hit the stage with a four-piece rock band plus a string quartet, for a well-attended, elegant set. It was a thoughtful, rehearsed presentation, which can be off-putting, but it worked. My guess is he can take this new sound as far as he wants to.
Looking around the club, it was hard to miss that a lot of the audience didn't have the air of regular concert-goers -- more like friends, co-workers, and I daresay a proud relative or two, or three. Is this good or bad? On one hand, as venue owners and promoters will tell you, all that matters are asses in the seats. On the other, in theory a hipper, more plugged-in audience will spread word of your prowess, creating that elusive word-of-mouth buzz, even though you're just one of perhaps a dozen bands the sleep-when-they're-dead crowd will see that week.
At least for myself, I suspect that if I went to only one show a month, I'd buy a lot more CDs and T-shirts (and probably be fitter, happier, more productive). Maybe? Which opens a horrible door into self-awareness about how you choose to spend your time. After the show, a smart person would've gone home; from what I can reconstruct, I instead went to Belvedere's for a Cinco de Mayo dance party that wasn't, really. The door creaks open a little wider ...