Amos Lee...and Waaaay Too Much Noise
You’ll remember that I’m telling the long and complicated story of our recent visit to San Antonio. We had gone for a lot of reasons...not least of them just to further #Stomp_Our_Ennui_Like_A_Bug...but the central reason was we wanted to see Amos Lee, a musician of whom we (and particularly Martha) are fans.
We had waited literally years for him to come to a venue near us. So, when we heard he was (finally) going to perform in Texas, and in a city that’s relatively near by, we were delighted.
And that night, Thursday, June 9, 2022, was to be ...the performance!
(You know how I keep talking about omens? Throw in a couple here. Big fat, fuzzy ones. Sort of a like Wombats but with teeth, fangs, and serious attitude problems.)
On time and nicely scrubbed up, we alighted from our Lyft at the theater -- specifically, the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts (https://www.tobincenter.org/). I’ve already described it, but, briefly, it is a gorgeous building, and if you’re ever in San Antonio, you owe it to yourself to at least see the place. I understand they offer tours. Or, if you can, catch a performance. All sorts of folks appear there -- ranging from musicians to comics to, well, most recently Amy Sedaris doing spoken word.
But...if you do buy tickets...well...maybe one of the less...uh...energetic acts.
I’ll explain that in a minute.
This is a selfie that Martha and I took before the concert. You can tell that it was *before* because we still have eye brows and functioning ear drums.
There was already a crowd and we made our way up the steps to the doors. There, a couple of very nice volunteers gave us directions about where to go and how to get there. We took an elevator up a couple of floors (no steps this time), stopped long enough at kiosk to buy ice waters, and then found our seats.
We had a great view of the stage. All around us people gathered and sat. They ranged in age from young to old, which was nice in terms of diversity. Though, I suppose, the majority were somewhere in their 40s or 30s.
We waited. Finally, the house lights dimmed and the opening act came on stage. It was a clean cut band of young people with guitars and a drummer. S.O.P. They were to perform for 30 minutes before Amos Lee came to the stage.
We sat back to enjoy ourselves. We were silently congratulating each other. Finally...here we are...getting out of the house...getting out of town...seeing a real concert. Then, one of the young men touched a guitar string.
It was so loud that you didn’t so much hear it as feel it...a shockwave that traveled up from the stage, over the audience, and drove us back into our seats. It was like...Godzilla playing a flugelhorn...or an air raid siren surgically installed in your left ear...or a 400 pound gorilla playing a Glockenspiel with an air hammer...or, well, fill in the blank. With something LOUD.
What the h*ll?
And it kept on like that. For half an hour we sat there...being pounded by wave after wave of pure sound.
The Tobin Exterior
The opening act came to an end and everyone headed out into the lobby for a quick visit to rest rooms or the drinks kiosk. We looked at each other. What on earth was going on? No one else seemed effected by the volume of the sound. But we...we were suffering.
We went outside and Martha ran to the ladies. I, meanwhile, discovered a couple of the volunteers...older women who help manage the Tobin as a pass-time. “Is it always this loud?” I said, a little aghast.
“Oh, this isn’t a *loud* band,” one of the woman told me. “You ought to have been here last week when we had the really young group in.”
She further explained that the issue was that the Tobin is wonderfully soundproofed. Meaning, no sound from the outside gets in. But, that also means that no sound from the outside gets...out.
She then suggested that we could get free plugs at the guest services desk downstairs. I hurried down and got four of them--little purple cones that fit into your ears. They were supposed to stay in, but mine kept falling out.
Martha was already eying the exits by that time, but I gave her a pair of ear plugs, and she agreed to give it one last shot. We went back to our seats, the lights dimmed, and then, to much applause, Amos Lee appeared on stage.
He greeted everyone and shortly thereafter launched into his first number.
I couldn’t understand a word he said. Again, it was simply so loud that the words themselves, let alone the tune, were lost in echoes and amplification. Two numbers later, and Martha had had more than enough. She told me we were leaving. I followed her through the aisle and to the door...me, of course, being utterly terrified that she’d fall in the dark, but she did fine.
We got into the lobby and I suggested that we find a seat on the convenient sofas that were present, and listen to the concert from there. Certainly, you could hear the music. It was so loud...
“No,” she said. “It’s ruined.”
I sighed. I suppose it was.
The Tobin Interior
So, that was it. After all that effort, after spending the money for the tickets, after springing for a hotel, after driving all that way...the concert was a complete and utter bust.
It is funny. It isn’t that we’re not used to concerts or amplified music. Martha, in particular, is concert goer from way back. She was, in fact, at the final performance of Janis Joplin. How’s that for a ’60s claim to fame?
But we were just not ready for the level of loud that seems to be the standard at the moment.
If this is the norm these days, will anyone have any hearing left in ten years?
Well, anyway, we went back to the hotel and sulked -- which was, of course, the only rational, adult, and mature thing to do.
We still had half a day left in the city. And the following morning we set out to enjoy it. And this time, as if to make up for everything else...
Things went pretty well.
Below, you’ll find a couple of the Tobin itself, one exterior and one interior.
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