The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Thursday, September 29, 2005
TUL's Take: The Shins/White Stripes @ Merriweather Post Pavilion

This was supposed to be up a day earlier obvs, but due to the lack of computer access all of yesterday, The Upstate Life will have to make due of failing the denizens for yesterday's content deficiency. Before heading up to Colombia for the show, we decided to grab dinner at Pita Plus, an Israeli restaurant in College Park out of all places since it was somewhat on the way. Even though the food was incredible (I highly recommend the lamb shwarma and matzo ball soup), there was only one waiter working the entire place. We were of course in a rush and by the time we finally got our check it was already 7:15pm. The Shins were scheduled to go on at 8. Fuck.

I floored it up 95 arriving at Merriweather right at 8pm, only to hear The Shins' performance echoing throughout the woods. By the time we found a parking spot and made our way to the general admission pit, the band was already a good twenty minutes into their set. Despite this being the group I wanted to see perform the most, just the fact that we were that close for a show at an amphitheater relieved the frustration (but not the perspiration, unfortunately). The band put forth a great effort throughout the remaining thirty minutes they were up onstage. I was significantly impressed with James Mercer's vocals given the amount of high notes he had to hit while performing in front of such a huge live setting. You could tell that they were definitely having a lot of fun up there and honestly sounded flawless the entire time.

The White Stripes hit the stage around 9:15 and we were underway for what was to be a great live act. The audience, on the other hand, was piss poor, at least where I was relegated to standing. As soon as the show started, two drunken guys who looked like extras from My Name Is Earl were putting their arms around each other while being loud, obnoxious, and evidently weren't cognizant of the fact that Jack and Meg had just appeared onstage. Fortunately, they must have not had the best angle for standing intoxicated, so they moved elsewhere. However, this was just the beginning of our troubles. When the duo broke into "My Doorbell", a guy in front of us with a faux-mullet (it was somewhat constrained under his dirty ass hat) and his lovely girlfriend, both on some sort of narcotic, decided to start grinding against us which forced TUL and company to unwillingly move back, forcing us to collide into the people behind us. After R elbowed him three times without any response, TUL stepped in and shoved him an additional two times to which he finally turned around. I'm not the one to get physical, but this dude had no idea that he was essentially trouncing on R and was obviously evidently too damn high to realize it. I gave him a sardonic look basically expressing "Listen asshole, you're crushing this poor girl who's no more than five feet tall. Acquire some common sense, show some respect, and stop dry-humping your girlfriend to the point of where we're on the receiving end of the reach around." He proceeded to move up and not bother us the rest of the evening.

While the physicality factor of the crowd subdued around us, the eccentricity became more prominent as the night went on. First off, there was not one, not even two, but three old men around us that had to be at least 45 or above. Hell, one looked like a cross between Wilford Brimley and John Bolton. What blew my mind away was the fact that they were a passing a joint they had just rolled amongst them during the entire night! When they weren't smoking up, the bald one to the left of me was not only fist-pumping, but yes, air-guitaring. As a matter of fact, he probably did every sort of action with his upper limbs that would make anyone that attended Sufjan Stevens the same night shudder at the very thought. Not only did we have our hand-clapping with simultaneous head-bobbing, but also a riveting arm motion every time Jack hit a power chord which prompted me to question my existence. It was that bad.

However, I shouldn't be too hard on these stoned gentlemen. Midway through the show, some kid was trying to guide his girlfriend through the crowd to one of the exits. It looked like, at least to TUL, that she was either heavily drunk and/or drugged. By the time they made it to our area, the girl's eyes literally rolled behind her head and proceeded to pass out right in front of us. It was truly a scary moment, but the toked-up elders decided to put out their joint, discontinue the physical enjoyment of the concert expressed by the various movements of their limbs, and volunteered to carry her out, never to be heard from throughout the rest of the evening.

Oh yeah, I guess I should talk about the people that were performing onstage I suppose. Being that this was the first time I've seen The White Stripes live, I thought they were incredible and possessed an extraordinary amount of stage presence for just two people playing drums and guitar. The couple played off each other almost to the point like they were the only ones in Merriweather, and the payoff was grand. Even Meg's vocal didn't sound as bad as I thought it would when she sang "In The Cold, Cold Night" and "Passive Manipulation". "The Nurse" was one of many highlights as Jack pounded away on the marimba with ferocity yet controlled ease. "Hotel Yorba" and "The Denial Twist" stand out amongst the selections performed Tuesday night as some of my favorites. Overall, I'd say it was a great performance that was unfortunately paired with a craptastic crowd experience. Setlist via 9:30 Forum:

01) Intro (Who's A Big Baby)
02) Blue Orchid
03) Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground
04) I Think I Smell A Rat
05) Jolene
06) My Doorbell
07) Cannon (riff) > Lafayette Blues
08) Black Math
09) Passive Manipulation
10) Wasting My Time
11) Death Letter
12) Hotel Yorba
13) Rated X
14) Apple Blossom
15) The Denial Twist
16) I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother's Heart
17) Red Rain
18) Sister Do You Know My Name
19) We're Going To Be Friends
20) Now Mary
21) In The Cold Cold Night
22) Walking With A Ghost
23) Cannon
24) I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself
25) Ball and Biscuit
26) The Nurse


27) The Hardest Button To Button
28) St. James Infirmary Blues (guitar --> piano) > Dyin' Crapshooters Blues
29) Seven Nation Army
30) Boll Weevil

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