10/9/08

Marx my words. I'm going to burn in Music Hell.

This past Friday night I took a little road trip with Yort down to Ridgefield, CT to see a rather odd duet made up of Richard Marx and Matt Scannell. "Seriously Johnny? Richard Marx?" I hear you saying in disbelief. I know, I know. On the scale of gayness, his music is slightly north of Air Supply gay, and that's being generous. But in both his and my defense, he is a talented mofo and a great songwriter, even if his delivery is a little on the light side. That said, even though I was never a huge Richard Marx fan, I did play the hell out of his first CD. Don't Mean Nothing, Shoulda Known Better, Endless Summer Nights -- I mean, come on. If you even had a pulse in 1987 you loved those effing songs and don't lie to me because I won't buy it for a second.

Matt Scannell, for those of you who don't know, is the front man and chief songwriter for the band Vertical Horizon. I liked them a lot back in 99 when Everything You Want came out. Apparently these guys are friends and have been doing a series of acoustic shows that basically involve them hanging out and playing some reworked versions of their tunes, as well as some new ones they've been working on together. They don't do many of these shows, and I figured Ridgefield was about as close as they were going to get, so I decided to make the trip. At the very least, it would be a good opportunity to see a couple of very talented guys play some good acoustic music in an intimate setting.

Unfortunately, my wife had to work, so she couldn't go with me. So I recruited Yort. I also brushed the dust off my old bootlegging equipment and decided I was going to record the show so she could listen to it if she wanted to. (Back in the late 90's and early 2000's, recording my friend Pete's band The Badlees was sort of a hobby of mine, and I still have a giant pile of mini-disc recordings that I will someday get around to transferring to CD.)

Anyway, to make a long story short, Yort and I got there a little early and checked out our seats. This is a tiny place, and we were sitting directly in the center a few rows down from the mixing board. Acoustically, they were probably the best seats in the house. As we walked in the door, I glanced at the seats, then at my ticket, and asked Yort to switch with me because there was an older gent already sitting in the adjacent seat on my side, and I wanted to mess with my recorder without anyone seeing me.

Once I fiddled with the recorder and got everything set to go, I relaxed. I figured the show would be pretty long, since I had heard it was 1/3 comedy, 1/3 storytelling and 1/3 music, and I was prepared. I didn't think there'd be much trouble swapping the disc after the first 75 minutes. Worst case, I could take a quick trip to the men's room and only miss half a song or so.

If you've read my blog for very long, you already know I have what I call bad "people luck" which means that if there is an annoying person within 50 miles of me, they will seek me out like a guided douchebag missle. If I'm on a plane, they're the one with the B.O. and bad breath that will sit next to me and like to talk. If I'm in a movie, they are either the really tall one who sits directly in front of me, or the really obnoxious one sitting behind me talking on their cell phone while simultaneously kicking my seat. If I go camping, they pack in right next to me and crank up the chainsaw and generator. You get the idea.

Historically speaking, my luck at concert venues isn't much better, but I thought maybe this show would be an exception. But it was not to be. Five minutes before the show started, a really excited looking, sweaty, pudgy, middle-aged girl wedged her way into our row and sat down next to me. She immediately turned to me and tried to bond, in a similar fashion to how I imagine a lamprey eel would strike up the initial conversation with the shark it wanted to latch on to and suck the life from.

"So are you a big fan? I LOVVVE Richard Marx. I mean, it's Richard Marx, how could you not love him?" she said with a single breath. She looked at my headphones and added, "Where you listening to him on the way to the show?"

"No," I replied. (hidden inside the non-functioning headphones is a pair of stereo microphones.) I reached in my pocket and started my recorder.

Just then the lights dimmed, and suddenly there was a steam locomotive crossing a trestle in the seat next to me. My ears were assaulted with a sound that simply had to originate directly from the bowels of Hell. I looked to my right. No, not from Hell -- from her.

"WHOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOO!!" she said.

"Holy Shit," I said, shaking my head to make my brain work again.

"I'm a screamer. Sorry," she said.

More than I needed to know.

The announcer walked on stage and introduced Matt and Richard. That's when the Whoo-Whoo! Girl really broke loose. She started yelling "You're AWESOME!" and screaming "WHOOOOOOOOOooooooooooOOOOOOOOO!" -- all while Richard was trying to introduce a song. Then...THEN....as the first song started, she began clapping along and singing - badly.

Motherfucker. It happened to me again.

So as I'm sitting there listening to my bootleg get completely trashed, I'm also trying to think of what I should do. I thought about getting up and moving to another seat farther back, but that would leave Yort by himself, and it would also mean I'd have to climb over everyone else in the row.

I'd like to point out that this is the part of the story where I do the exact right thing.

What would a rabid fan love more than anything? I thought. I know! A copy of the show they were currently attending, to remember it forever! So between whoo-whoos, I leaned over and said, "Look, I'm going to be honest with you. I'm trying to record this show, and if you tone it down just a little bit, I'll send you a copy of it."

She turned toward me and shook her head. "No," she said, "No. You're cheating!"

Then she started boiling like a corked up teapot that was about to blow.

"Cheating?" I asked. "What do you ----"

"YOU'RE STEALING FROM THEM!" she yelled at me. "STEALING!"

"No, it's only for me," I said, backpedaling. "So my wife can hear the show."

"You're not a true fan! You're not even a fan of music, are you?"

"No, really -- I ----"

"GO SIT SOMEWHERE ELSE! I PAID FOR THIS EXPERIENCE!"

At this point I was getting a little irritated. "I paid too. But I didn't pay to experience your experience," I said.

"You're OBVIOUSLY not a musician," she said.

"I play the drums," I said, realizing as I said it that I basically just conceded her point.

It was right about then that I heard a little voice in the back of my head say "Johnny. Psssst. Um, she can get you kicked out of the show. Just thought I'd mention that."

My little voice was right. What to do? I thought fast (for me, anyway), leaned over again and said, "I was just kidding. I'm not actually recording the show. I was just trying to get you to be quiet."

So she leaned over and sang directly into my face.

I was making friends. This was good.

I chalked it up to another episode of bad "people luck" and sat back to enjoy what I could of the show between spastic outbursts of unrequited Richard Marx love. I figured she'd eventually tire herself out or maybe have a coronary, but sadly, neither of those things happened. She dry-humped her chair a lot, and her butt-bulk kept invading my seat, so that was a nice bonus.

When the 75 minutes were up and I knew I needed to change the disc, there was no way I was going to switch it out in plain view after I told her I wasn't recording, so I just let it roll out. I figured that at least I got the first 3/4 of the show. Other than having to run it through Ableton and SoundForge to EQ it a bit, (neither program has a whoo-whoo filter, unfortunately) it actually turned out pretty good.

I also have to note that throughout this series of altercations, Yort was helping me deal with crazy fan-girl by studiously pretending to not know me. I like to think that if it had come to blows, he'd have had my back, but it's probably just wishful thinking on my part.

At any rate, if you get chance to see these guys, do it. They're funny, they're talented, and they put on a great show. Just heed my advice -- if you hear a locomotive heading in your general direction, run like hell or risk being steam-rolled by the Marx Love.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

46 comments:

  1. JV,

    Now THAT was funny!

    I think I like the Schadenfreude best.

    Keep it up!

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  2. Upstate Broad11:28 PM

    Sounds like a good show; I'll have to see if they're coming to this part of VA. In the meantime, I'll trade my "people luck" for yours anytime. My husband says I have "abuse me" written on my forehead in a language only assholes can read. I even get abused by strangers at Disney. Go figure.

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  3. Who doesn't love themselves some Dick Marx? I saw him live in 1987. I was only 8 but I knew right then and there that I would never see another mullet as glorious as his.

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  4. And yet, if you killed her, YOU'D go to jail.
    Go figure! :)

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  5. being steam-rolled by Marx-Love is one of my fantasies!

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  6. just a tip...i've had that happen before (not the recording part but the girl who wouldn't shut up part) and i just got a good look around...told her i thought this one guy was someone famous who goes round with the group and she could probably get a pass backstage if he knew what a fan she was...she never made it back...i had a great time!

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  7. My dad liked Richard Marx back in the 90's. I always thought it was because my fathers name was Mark Richard.

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  8. I can't believe you'd admit to liking Richard Marx out loud. That would be like admitting you once got tickets for a Kenny G concert for a girl and ended up going with your college roommate instead to said concert. Not that I did that or anything. ;)

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  9. I think that girl sat next to me when I saw KC and the Sunshine Band.

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  10. I have no idea who Richard Marx is.

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  11. I have to admit it. That girl? That was me. I knew you were coming to Connecticut and wanted to make sure you had something to blog about.

    You're welcome.

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  12. Richard Marx. I can't get past the Richard Marx thing. For real, Richard Marx?

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  13. I take it back. I no longer want your review of jacks mannequin.

    haha just kidding. I sat next to one of those people at a damien rice concert. We were sitting behind her, so my buddy got up. walked around the back and then up to the front. Looked like he was someone official who was looking for someone(no uniform mind you) and then walked next to her aisle and said "Ma'am, if you don't quiet down, we are going to have to ask you to leave for disrupting the other customers" She shut right up, but she was also trashed so......

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  14. I saw Richard Marx a year ago. I thought it was going to be lame and went as a joke but hands down it was the best concert I think I've ever been to. Sorry about the girl - I hate people like that.

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  15. carrie1:06 PM

    Thanks for the laugh - I really needed one this week! That was hilarious!

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  16. I think I've only got one thing to say to that Johnny:

    "Whoo Hoo!"

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  17. i thought i was bad for going to a huey louis concert 2 years ago. i tried to be the annoying girl by screaming out, I LOVE YOU LUEY but there were only like 30 people in this huge stadium! was awesome.

    richard marx was my 2nd "real" tape. my first one was NKTOB. you better write a review when you go see them.

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  18. Haha! Good stuff. Fortunately, I did not have a pulse in 1987.

    CMA

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  19. kristina6:26 PM

    Now really, you should have known better than to think it was going to go well. The best thing to do is assume there is going to be at least one idiot to almost spoil the show for you.

    On Sunday, I was at a concert where, after about 7 crappy "people luck" experiences this year, I had finally resigned myself to the fact there would be idiots sitting in front, beside or behind us, when the most miraculous thing occurred: not only did a couple in our section ask if we would switch seats with them (we were in row Z and they were in row N, but because the wife was partially disabled, she didn't want to go down the stairs), but there were absolutely no idiots to be seen or heard. I was so shocked and amazed, I kept looking over my shoulder to see if I was on candid camera.

    So the moral of the story is: expect/prepare for the worst, and anything less than that will be wonderful! Or maybe even amazing!

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  20. Holy Frick, now I feel really bad!

    When I was 8 years old, back in 1989, I attended my first concert ever, Richard Marx and Wilson Phillips. I couldn't have been more thrilled! At the show my mom's friend (my actual mother couldn't be bothered to take me) bought me a Program and one of those giant buttons with the frame backing. I carried the Program with me everywhere, but kept it in good condition, save for a bent corner here and there.

    The point is, that girl coulda been me, had I not outgrown Richard Marx pretty much the year after the show. However, I was the annoying 8-year-old who was the only person standing in her seat and shaking her ass, singing along with every song.

    Now I realize how fucking irritating that is, and will never do it again. The last time I went to a show I tried to tape a couple of Mars Volta songs, and all I can hear is the chick behind me and her atonal singing followed by her own personal accounts on how and why the song effects her the way it does.

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  21. I have visited often but this is the funniest I have read and my first comment (I think). and I DID love Richard Marx...those songs were popular when I was in HS! funny, funny, funny!

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  22. You could have tried complementing her. "Boy, for a fat girl, you don't sweat much."

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  23. That's not cheating! Cheating would be posting material on the 'net that is a studio recording free to whomever chooses to not buy it in a store. This is a frequent topic on RundgrenRadio.com Even Todd says it's no biggie - he just doesn't think it should be SOLD.

    Okay, I'll step down from my soapbox now.

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  24. you should attach a sound file, so we can hear her wooing. just a few seconds, as not to give off the impression that you're not a musician or don't love music.

    i caught richard marx and wilson phillips together at a high school wrestling camp in chattanooga during summer 1990, as they happened to be on the same campus we were. it wasn't that good. at least, i was too cool to think it was at the time.

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  25. Some people admit to playing the heck out of the second album as well. But only after extreme WoooooooHooooo torture.

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  26. Ugh, kudos to you for not smooshing her chubby face as tempting as it probably was.

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  27. Otter3:58 PM

    That's OK JV, admitting listening to Richard Marx isn't half as bad as admitting that one used to listen to Stryper back in the 80s. I'll just leave it at that.

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  28. The visuals Im getting here are pretty specific...haha!

    There are some crazy fans out there. One time I went to the international airport to pick up a friend. I took my profesional video camera to record her entrance and was surprised to see a whole gang of television reporters on the scene.

    It turned out that the 80's rock band "the Cure" was arriving at the same time.

    In the whole commotion of it all I was admitted as a newsreporter and got record their interviews as well.

    I felt so important that I almost forgot to pick up my friend!

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  29. Great post man! And wow, I've been reading your blog for a while and I never knew you were friends with The Badlees. I used to love them back in the 90s. Now I'm going to have to dig out some of their old stuff.

    Thanks!

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  30. My husband has similar people luck. You are too funny, and a wonderful story teller. How is the book deal coming? Best, Becs

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  31. Anonymous12:58 PM

    And she's reading your blog right now!

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  32. She may be reading your blog but, she doesn't know you're talking about her!!

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  33. She always sits by me. I can't believe she cheated on me with you. I didn't think she would ever leave my side. Bitch.

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  34. Since she was the indignant type I would have tried the sleazebag route: "My wife's not here but I'm feeling horny, fancy doing me after?" She would probably have (hopefully) gotten pissed off that you wanted to cheat on your wife and have fucked off away. Or maybe she would have dry humped your leg. Tricky.

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  35. This was brilliant.

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  36. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Dang, I came to see the sexy Johnny picture (and hopefully read a new post, but at least see the picture) and it's gone! I'm all full of woe and shit now. I should have copied it off when I had the chance...

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  37. tome, thanks. That's like bratwurst, right?

    UB, I got punched in the nuts at epcot. I feel your pain.

    Maryann, he busted on his own mullet pretty mercilessly. Also, he was very sorry YouTube exists to showcase it.

    Kiki, I'm sorry. You need better fantasies.

    Daisy, nice one. I don't think it would have worked here though.

    BAG, you make me feel really, really old. Thanks, man.

    unfinished, I read your story. Awesome. Kenny G just looks way too effing blissful when he's blowing on that thing.It's creepy.

    Meredith, KC Who?

    Sharon, you must be really old or really young.

    Fancy, thanks. I appreciate that. Also, breath mints. Just sayin'.

    Heather, I know. Just to make you feel better, I was a lot more interested in seeing Matt Scannell play.

    S. Vincent, I don't blame you. I like Damien Rice, too. Short take on the new JM -- not as poppy, more serious, more introspective -- understandable given what he's gone through since the last release. Also, a song on there called "Lullabye" that kills me. It's fantastic.

    Nan, I know, right? You wouldn't expect the comedy.

    Crystal, I had the first HL album and people would look at me weird when I told them what I was listening to on my cassette walkman....

    That Girl -- I think RM was going for the prom theme demographic.

    Jason, I've known Pete since 96 or so. I used to do their website.

    Becs, I'm trying but this week has been busy....I still need to write a bunch before I'll have anything worth the paper it's printed on...

    MissKIA, it didn't mean anything. She still loves you.

    Emmak, I don't think I could have pulled that one off.

    Linds, thanks.

    Anon, what? You don't like my pumpkin? I carved it myself yesterday.

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  38. Couldn't you have snuck in a Tazer instead of a recorder? Would have been more useful!

    Thanks for dropping by blog to correct everything ;) How'd you know I gave you a shout out?

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  39. hey what part of upstate, ny are you in? i am from malone. heard of it? lemme know.

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  40. Loved this post!!! Lived in Ridgefield for a while...lived and survived through the Richard Marx era (no, that was not me that had a Richard Marx poster on her dorm room wall in 1988 -- *ahemgayahem* -- so could totally picture this.

    Oh, and following up on C's question...talk about bizarre...I grew up in friggin' Malone. Random.

    Love your blog!

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  41. Just found your blog. I have friends who are loser magnets but I am sure glad I avoided that gene. Great blogs!

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  42. I am fairly sure I drive through Malone to get to Newcomb and the Santanoni Preserve.

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  43. lol.....Now that's good stuff...

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  44. That was like when I went to a Billy Joel concert. At first I didn't want to go. The last BJ concert I went to was Storm Front and he was playing obscured tracks from the album. I eventually conceded and had a blast. Except the people behind us standed up through out the whole concert singing off key and dancing. Smells of left-handed cigarettes were looming my way.

    I glanced down two rows and some guy was dancing strangely in the aisle.

    I was getting into the music and was razzed for that.

    Good times. Thanks for the memories :)

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  45. I also have that "bad people" luck you speak of...mine also comes with a side of any freak in a store will tell me their life story & if there is a crying, whiny, annoying brat in a restaurant, they'll be sitting next to my table!!!

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  46. I stalked Richard Marx once. Outside a mall. Then he got into a car and someone drove him away, effectively ending my career as a Richard Marx stalker. True story.

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