I got to see Beck perform last night. He put on an entertaining show as always. Love the Beckster. "Guero" is an impressive album, too. It's the perfect soundtrack for a smog-smothering summer in L.A.
The last time I saw him play was a couple of years back when he was supporting his album "Sea Change" with the The Flaming Lips as his band. I have to say I liked that show waaaaay better, and not just because "Sea Change" is my favorite Beck production.
This year's band featured some smug 20-something punk-asses that looked as if they'd been ordered as an assortment pack off of www.slackeryouthtoday.com. While their playing seemed fine, it felt like a calculated decision to reach a younger demographic or some shit. In my opinion, they didn't deserve to share a stage with the Rev. Hansen--although they seemed to amuse him with their youthful zest.
During Beck's slow songs, where he strummed his guitar and got to show off his remarkable voice, the band sat at a dinner table onstage pretending to eat a meal--yawning intermittently and talking on their cell phones. Soooo edgy and irreverent, no? I guess that was supposed to be funny, but it was just distracting. When the band began to jam with Beck by using their silverware and plates as percussion, I had to roll my eyes. Then I had to close my eyes in order to focus on the music and not get annoyed with the choreographed unpredictableness.
My favorite part of his last show was hearing him play "Nobody's Fault" on a harmonium while kneeling in a solo spotlight. It was a goose bumps moment. This year, he played the same song on the same instrument, but ironic band guys, looking bored in a semi-circle near him, started leading a clap that the audience slowly picked up. Argh.
I wonder: does Beck or his record company think that people's attention spans have gotten so abbreviated that we need something shiny to look at during a slow song? More likely, all that heart-on-his-sleeve "Sea Change" emoting wore him out and now he just plays those songs to appease a few softies in the audience. "See guys, I'm so over it. I can't believe you fell for that cry-baby ish. Now look at this skinny I.T.-looking dude carrying out a series of bigger and bigger boomboxes and prepare to laugh your keysters off. I know what the kids like."
As I was shuffling with the exiting crowd at the end of the show, I heard one girl say that Beck's so shy onstage, he needs a lot of stuff going on around him. I disagree completely. He could play a stadium with just a harmonica and a mic and be brilliant. The most common criticism of his music I've heard is that he often hides behind randomized lyrics and mix master manuevers, keeping an emotional distance. I felt like that was happening onstage last night, too.
Beck, baby, just be yourself. It's the loser in you that we dig.