Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Dave Matthews Band and Sushi Both Leave a Bad Taste In My Mouth - 9/4/2011

Sometimes it seems that I am the only one in the world that doesn’t grok certain things. There are many cases of this being true, but I think I will limit this discussion to two examples: sushi and The Dave Matthews Band. Spoiler alert: I will admit up front that I don’t care for either of them. So you can save yourself the excruciating agony of reading on if you are just trying to find out where I stand on these critical issues. Perhaps I am not sophisticated or cultured enough to appreciate the complexities and art contained in either, but I like what I like. If you like either or both, I don’t care. Write your own blog.

Sushi: It is not that I haven’t tried sushi. I have given it several chances and each time resulted in a napkin spitting convulsion. It is not that I am discriminating about what I shove down my pie hole. I weigh approximately the same as Gilbert Grape’s mom. You don’t get like this by being selective of cuisine. It is not that I dislike polarizing food. I love oysters, escargot, calamari, mountain oysters, duck pate, and liver. I have eaten unidentifiable items from a night market in China. I am adventurous. It is not the thought of eating RAW fish. I have enjoyed steak tartare and absolutely adore prosciutto crudo.

Perhaps it is partly that it tastes foul and partly because those that are devotees of the sushi are so enthusiastic and fanatical about it that it causes my rebellious nature to surface. They make a Broadway show out of “going out for sushi.” Those of us that find bacon irresistible don’t try to convince others of the joy of gammon consumption. Nor do we try to instruct others of what fetid condiments are required to garner the entire dining experience. I find Sushi aficionados to be a bit like religious zealots. They really want you to know about their sushi.

If you like Sushi, fine. Just make sure you actually like it and aren’t just trying to be trendy.

The Dave Matthews Band: I have unsuccessfully attempted several times to listen to the Dave Matthews Band. I have friends (all middle aged and white) that think the sun rises from between Dave Matthews’ legs. I can acknowledge that he and the other members of his band are accomplished musicians, just as I can concede that the French make decent films. But I don’t have to like them. There are actually a couple of his songs that are listenable to me, but not enough to make the cut on my IPOD. It is not that I am close-minded about music. I have a wide range of musical taste. The playlist you are listening to right now is about as eclectic as you can get.

Someone suggested that “you really have to hear them live.” So I went on Spotify and made a playlist of “Live at Folsom Field.” I had a choice between that and “Live at Wrigley Field,” but there hasn’t been anything worth observing at Wrigley field since Ernie Banks retired. I started it up, hoping to finally grasp what DM was all about. When the first song cued up, Skooter licked himself and left the room. But he knows even less than I do about music. So I ignored his critique.

The first thing I noticed was that before every song there was at least a minute of some kind of tuning effort that seemed successfully designed to drive the fans into a screaming frenzy. EVERY FREAKING SONG. Come on Dave, just start the damn song. It is a double album, so when I woke up (oh yeah, it put me to sleep) it was still going. Fans of DM are certainly in luck. If you like one song, you will certainly like the next one, because it is exactly the same song. Without the tracks being listed and the endless tuning it would be impossible to tell when one song finished and the other began. Kind of like the Grateful Dead (who I am also a great fan of). This was some mind-numbing stuff.

On the rare occasion that I could make out some of the lyrics that he was garbling, they were totally without substance. I am a very lyrical music fan. I am not a fan of jamming just because you can. I like a 3 minute 30 second song with some meaning. Not “I'm the Monkey Man With the great, great monkey plan.” I had to turn it off when he totally butchered Dylan’s brilliant, “All Along the Watchtower.” It was actually several minutes into the song before I knew what the hell it was. That was brutal.

If you like The Dave Matthews Band, fine. Just make sure you actually like it and aren’t just trying to be one of the cool kids.