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Survey #5: How often do you listen to live music?


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Just came back from a much-needed vacation on Florida's West Coast (all this holiday and celebration stuff is killer!). Had a chance to listen to a groovy twenty-something hippie belt out her original rhythm and blues tunes in a not too noisy, smoky, or crowded restaurant/bar. Nice! (Always nice.)

As she and her guitar and bass men worked their magic with multiple 12" drivers and hundreds of watts in a room several times larger (and noisier) than mine, I seriously contemplated just how ridiculous the tweaking audiophile's attempt at live music reproduction really is. How can my measly Paramours and big old horns compete with all that energy and force? Although big old horns handle the dynamics of drums better than any other form of speaker, they still have a long way to go (I dream of a 100 watt 2A3 amp for less than $2K). Nonetheless, comparison to the live event and what we are trying to accomplish (and just as important, what we are NOT trying to do) was a wonderfully refreshing change from the "sit at home listening before returning to work" stage of audiophile life. Therefore, my question is this:

1. How often do you listen to live music?

2. What is your most common listening venue:

3. Large Indoor or outdoor stadium, not designed for music concerts?

4. Medium size indoor or outdoor amphitheater, designed for music concerts?

5. Medium theater or music hall, designed for concerts?

6. Small nightclub or bar, designed for concerts?

7. Horrible acoustics nightclub or bar, NOT designed for concerts?

8. Own playing or rehearsals outside of the home?

9. Playing or rehearsals INSIDE the home?

Oh yeah, and a Happy New Ear!!!

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When I lived in Northern Virginia, I used to go to a club called the Birchmere at least once a month. I would classify it as a number 5 according to your list. This place held about 800 people, where you could sit down and eat and have a mixed drink to boot. I could show up at 5:00 when the door's opened to get my seating number (I would always sit at one of the front tables no further than 3-5 feet from the stage) and they would let you in to the theater at 6:00. The shows would always start at 7:30. This place had wonderful acoustics and just made you feel like this was what it was all about. I have seen so many of my favorite artists there... here is just a partial list:

Michael Hedges, Marc Cohn, Rickie Lee Jones, Dave Mason, America, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, NRBQ, Lowen and Navarro, Speidel, Goodrich, Goggin and Lillie (SGGL), Shawn Colvin and countless others that I cannot think of at the moment.

Here is their Calendar for this month alone, and I see Southside is playing tonight and tomorrow night. Frown.gif Anybody from the DC area should definitely check this show out. There is no better horn section alive than the Jukes from 15 feet away!

I am now outside Orlando and there is no place like the Birchmere that I know of. I really miss that place...



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This message has been edited by Mike Lindsey on 01-05-2002 at 01:27 PM

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I saw Judas Priest back when they were very young and just starting to tour.

They came into Dayton's Hara Arena with 40 Crown Amplifiers and horns galore.

I was prepared for a nightmare of screeching sound.

What I got was the best indoor sound I've ever heard.

Thank God for equalizers Smile.gif

When musicians and sound people actually take the time to do it right - they get very good sound.

I heard Pink Floyd in Cleveland Municiple Stadium back in late 70's. They actually waited for the stadium to fill and then announced they were going to perform a series of 'tests' beginning with 'pink noise' - and asked everyone to be as quiet as possible while they did this. Ended up being a very good sounding concert.

I also saw Areosmith once and had to leave after the second song because the distortion was hurting my ears and the standing waves were making me nauseous.

Rock music in bar is typically pretty obnoxious sounding and I tend to avoid it like the plague.



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i don't do enough live anymore. guess i'm getting old :frown

i do have many fond memories as a young teen at the RKO

in davenport, ia. an opera house w/ great acoustics that i think sat around 2k. unless u were up front, it was hard to see the bands through all the smoke, cwm32.gif

but heard many beginning w/ stepenwolf (warmed up by canned heat), kiss (warmed up by journey which turned out to be an oddity but now not so), reo, foghat, boc, slade, rush, etc.

i remember when rick derringer canceled at the last hour as a warm up to kansas, some dude replacement told the booing crowd: "for those of u clapping, thanks a lot. for those booing, F$*% YOU." that dude was btw Sammy Haggar, just departed from Montrose on a solo career.

i remember seeing BOC (blue oyster cult). yes seeing because we actually got in the all GA line early & scored the 3rd row center. unlike kiss who had their flash powder explosions spread through out the show, the boc roadie apparently decided to load all the powder up at the start. when buck darma hit is 1st guitar chord, it seemed like an atomic bomb went off.

i was knocked from standing up on my seat into the lap of a girl in the row behind. funniest thing was everybody recovered, got back up to standing on the seats & cheering madly, & when i looked at my friend next to me & all the others around, everybody's faces were blackened w/ powder. all u could really see were their eyes & teeth. oh the memories cwm35.gif

so seen a lot o' live at concert halls, stadiums & clubs in the past. maybe need to do more in the future, but w/ the klipsch systems at home, it's hard not to be a cacooner. Biggrin.gif


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ha guys,

Been to several live shows this past year.Saw Days of the new at the house of blues in myrtle beach sc. the show was excellent. wasn't to loud. engineer did a good job of putting it together. saw them again in a small club in raleigh called the bewery. this show was to loud and poorly eq'ed for the venue(about the size of my living/dining room)and was very unpleasant to listen to,but nonetheless a good show.

Saw type-o-negative in Raleigh nc at an old movie theater called the Ritz. ton uses alot of distortion in their music and play it at very high volumes. this show knocked my socks off.definitly sounded better live than from a recording.

Saw Genitorturers at a club just up the street from my home. a small club which consists of mostly pool tables. after the show started it was more about the show itself rather than the music. it was a freak show. if you younger guys get a chance to see them...do it. it's an experience.

Personally,seeing a live show is just that...live. it's not just the music, it's the show as a whole.

for what it's worth

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PWK recommended going to live concerts to get one's ear recalibrated. I'll bet he was talking about hearing instruments which were not amplified and fed through speakers. But that is what we often get.

I hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra or the Civic Orchestra about once every two years. Sometimes it is possible to sit behind the orchestra.

We in the Windy City are also blessed with street musicians. Some have amps and speakers, some don't.

These experiences really show how much home listening lags behind the actual experience. Klipsch speakers come closer than most others I've heard.


This message has been edited by William F. Gil McDermott on 01-05-2002 at 10:27 PM

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Like boa, I'm afraid my live music listening is mostly behind me. Unless you count church. Ha

Not that I miss it that much, mind you. I've heard enough bad live sound (amped AND acoustic) from bad seats that I just really enjoy music more on my own system. Sure, I have heard live sound (again, both electric and acoustic) that blows away anything I've ever heard from ANY hi-fi rig, but those times were generally few and far between...and expensive. Just give me the sweet spot on my futon, with the k-horns in full bellow (howz about a little "Country Grammar" from Nelly), and I'm a happy man.



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I attend concerts regularly, and this is a big reason that I am a Klipsch owner. Heritage speakers do a great job of re - creating that live concert sound (just as they sound great on everything else). Much of my music library is live music.

I've seen literally hundreds of mostly rock and roll concerts over the years. 90 Grateful Dead shows, 40+ Phish shows, 23 String Cheese Incident shows and counting, plus lots of other acts too numerous to mention, in just about every imaginable venue type. The venue is 50% of the live show experience - it can really make or break the show. I travel long distances to see my favorite bands play the best places. Just a few of my favorites.....

Red Rocks, Morrison, Co. (9900 cap) - This is a venue that everyone should go to in thier lifetime. See a musical act that you like here - regardless of the distance you must travel. Stand about half way up the slope of the bowl as 500+ foot jagged rocks reach for the sky on each side of you, with the Denver skyline looming off behind the stage in the distance. Sometimes the summer storms race across the plateau, adding an incredible light show to the one that the artists provide. Words cannot do this place justice.

Gorge Ampitheatre, George, Wa. (30,000 cap) - My favorite "large" venue. Sometimes the most popular artists are forced to play huge places. In the case of The Gorge, this is not a bad thing. The size and scale of the Columbia river gorge provides the backdrop for this first rate spot. Views rate up there with Red Rocks.

Greek Theatre, Berkeley, Ca. (cap 8900) - Greek style theatre on the University of California campus. Watch your favorite band as the sun sets behind the Golden Gate bridge. Find out what the Deadheads already know - superb sounds and views make this place one of the best. BTW, the Bay Area boasts an incredible music scene with lots of good venues, so spend a week here for a musical overdose.

The Backyard, Austin, Tx. (cap 4000) - Another of the best locations for hot live music is , of course, Austin, Texas. The Backyard is about a thirty minute drive west of town in the heart of Texas hill country, nestled in a grove of oak trees. Small enough to have an intimate feel, yet draws a good list of artists. Watch the oaks dance in the wind behind the stage with the music.

You may have guessed that I prefer the outdoor venues, and that assumption is correct. However, there are a few of my favorite indoor rooms, too.

Radio City Music Hall, NY, NY (cap 6200) - Plush, very ornate, great sound, and in the heart of the Big Apple. Seeing concerts in New York is a different experience - critical, yet accepting audiences seem to bring out the best in musicians for whatever reason. Artists are always pumped up to play here, and RCMH books rock bands too, so that we less refined and cultured rockers can enjoy this wondrful room too.

Fox Theatre, Atlanta, Ga, (cap 6000) and St. Louis, Mo. (cap 4200) - I'll lump these two together since they are similar in thier qualities. Great acoustics and decor make both of these winners. If the sound sucks in these two places, blame the band, not the building, because these two are as good as it gets for sound. Made for music and live performance. Both are very comfortable places to hear music.

Arenas and stadiums generally stink for live music, as they are made for sports, and are too large to sound good. The only musical act that I have seen that is any good in this setting is Pink Floyd. I will give honorable mention to NYC's Madison Square Garden as an arena worth going to, though. The energy in this place is incredible, and if you play here, you have truly made "the big time". It is, after all, "the World's Most Famous Arena"; if Phish gets back together and plays here, I'll be there.

Boa12 - It's interesting that you mention the old RKO (I live 10 minutes from the place). It's still operating, now named the Adler Theatre, but is severely underutilized. It books 6 or so symphony performances and a few Anne Murray type shows each year. Too bad the space is largely wasted - it is a good room for music and performance - I would like to see more acts booked there.

This message has been edited by dndphishin on 01-07-2002 at 12:27 PM

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I also am getting old and not going out as much as I used to. Used to go see bands nearly once a week, now I'm lucky if it's every couple of months.

My favorite venue for seeing bands, by far, is First Avenue/7th Street Entry in Minneapolis, MN (for reference, rent the movie Purple Rain). Pretty much everbody has played there. I really dislike seeing arena shows, but have seen a few good ones. Last show I saw at 1st Ave was Superchunk a couple of months ago. Good show, not great. Other than that, I like other small venues/bars around the Twin Cities--such as the Fine Line, 400, Cabooze, Lee's Liquor Lounge. Really like catching bands on the rise in a more intimate setting.

I agree with bigdnfay that it's tough to reproduce the experience of a live show--those magical nights when the band is on, the crowd is hanging on every note, and there's some sort of electricity in the air.

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dnd, great summary! i do need to get to the gorge sometime as my fam lives in seattle.

i did live in muscatine as a youth. & when i got older

& lived in des moines in the 80s i got a consulting gig over in davenport. i got a lil tour of the then new adler theater by some of the local bankers.

my 1st thought was we ain't gonna see any smokey hard rock shows here anymore. maybe as the local leadership

changes they'll change that policy. iow, i think they kinda have a bad impression of the old rko. cwm32.gif

rane, i've been to 1st ave once, back in the early 80s.

we were up on the top level & prince (or is it the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as prince?) was there in person. apparently scoping out an investment as he bot the place. talked to him some though he's pretty shy in public (as is sammy haggar).

wonder does he still own it?


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I have to admit that my First Ave./Price history is a bit sketchy. I'm not aware of when Prince might have owned it. I know that First Ave. was purchased in 2000 (its 30th anniversary year) by Steve McClellan (longtime manager), Byron Frank, and Alan Fingerhut. I think they bought it from a large corporation (perhaps movie theatre co.?), and as far as I known they still own it. At the time they bought it, its future was much in question. There were many stories about it being closed, turned into a Hard Rock Cafe, etc. The new owners say it isn't going anywhere (whew!), but they might be making some changes in the future--such as expanding and perhaps adding a restaurant. I don't think it's ever made much money, so it might be hard for them to expand.

I know that Prince opened/owned a Minneapolis club called Glam Slam for several years circa 90s, but (I believe) he sold the club a few years ago. It is now called the Quest. It is located only a few blocks from First Ave. From what I've heard, Prince is very shy and he not seen out very often any more, so it's cool you got to talk with him!

I'll have to ask some of my friends for more information about Prince's involvement in First Ave.

Thanks to everyone for all the good info./reviews on where to see live shows. Now if I only had the money and time to travel more....

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The Gorge at George, yeah, I know that place.

Right in the middle of the worst place in Washington.

(I'm sorry, It is nice there, I'm just not much for the central WA scabland look.)

Went to Lalapooloza there when they had Primus,

Alice in Chains, Dinosaur Junior, and whatever the

hell else they had.

(Spent 1/2 the show out in the lot gettin' drunk.)

90 degrees, the show was out in the parking areas

nearest the Amphitheater.(not in it.)3 inches of

dust,(the mosh pit looked like a bonfire from the

dirt being thrown up.)

They would spray water on people, then they were coated

with mud.

We had a great time.

Would like to go to a show in the Amphitheater.

Seen Derringer once, in a local bar in Spokane.

(I was too drunk to remember Acoustics, I just

remembered he was fat.)

They used to be the Spokane Coliseum, it was

torn down and it's now 'The Arena'.

Seen a lot of shows in the 'Boone street Barn'


Metal trash cans have better Acoustics than the

barn did.

But the best 'sounding' shows I remember in this

place was Yes in the round, they had the speaker

system in a circle above the stage, in the center of the building.)

Otherwise, they would blast the speakers against the back wall.

So ya had sit in the back horseshoe to get any

decent acoustics.

Another show that 'sounded' excellent believe

it or not, was Slayer.

Of all the years sittin' in that horseshoe, Slayer

was Clean, Dynamic and the kick drums moved our

hair.(they blew away Megadeth and Anthrax soundwise.)

Seen Type O in the Met once in Spokane.

Great show, body numbing bass.

I seen Tool just recently at the Arena, we were on the floor.

It sounded really good near the mixer or behind it.

But as you worked your way toward the stage,

all those bass cabs would start coupling in your


(Looks like the Arena horseshoe is the best bet also.)

It's a good thing Tool has a lot of different things

going on in their gigs, they are quite boring to watch


Metallica and the cult were the worst.

(Turn it up all the way, so they can't tell how

sloppy we are.)

I seen Metallica outdoors,(Monsters of Rock.)

They sounded great, then.

I been to four shows in the last ten years,

as opposed to dozens in the 80's and 70's.

I know how ya feel, guys.

It is depressing after a good live gig, and you

go home and your illusion engine just don't quite

cut it.

I need to check out the local Spokane classical

orchestra, it could be a real acoustical trip!



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After asking the question, I realize how much live music I've seen myself and how much I continue to see.

There is a string of illuminary artistic pearls strung along the Canadian border, beginning with New York City. Montreal, Toronto are next, Chicago follows, with the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul as the last cultural link before, at the far west end of the chain, Seattle.

Minneapolis/St. Paul is a performing arts oasis awash in the rolling fields and drifts of knee-high golden grain and powdery snow. Unbeknownst to either Chicago or New York, it carries on a fierce cultural competition with them.

Life in the Twin Cities is surrounded by endless plains and long winters, fed by cold Alberta Clipper winds. Lest the sheer boredom of the plains, or the billows of snow, drive the restless inhabitants to cabin fever, the Twin Cities sport a variety of unusual and accessible entertainment.

I had the wonderful experience of seeing a great many artists (which does not include a great many rock bands) in concert all through out college (far too many years ago) as a usher/security guard. After taking tickets and showing people to their seats, I got to stay for the show. Almost every Friday or Saturday night, for about four years, I saw some type of show.

The events ran the gamut from NHL hockey and All Star wrestling to music concerts and plays. I worked Katherine Hepburn's "A Matter of Gravity" four times, and she yelled at me four times too. She thought the theater was musty (it was) but that was beyond my control.

I saw Hall & Oates, Black Oak Arkansas and the Grateful Dead. I worked on stage for the Stones, front stage for Elvis Presley, backstage for the Who and lunched with Janis Ian's band. I worked the Commodores, George Benson, Chubby Checker, Bee Gees, ELO, Average White Band, Grover Washington Jr., Rod Stewart, Yes, Meatloaf, Charlie Daniels, Lynard Skynard, Kiss and David Bowie, countless orchestra performances, 16 Shawn Phillips concerts, two incredible John Denver concerts, numerous Minnesota Twins and Vikings games.

Some of the best concerts I have seen have been the small theater or club venue. I wrote my first music review about droll Leon Redbone and his "Shine On, Harvest Moon." I sat at an ecstatic Joan Armatrading's feet when her career took off. I saw a dapper Robert Palmer at a half full Hampton Beach club before he hooked up with Duran-Duran and then saw his "Simply Irresistible" Power Station again in Boston. I saw Elvis Costello playing solo at the same club and Joan Baez and UB40 in Boston.

I've been to the downtown Mpls. clubs and loved the jamming Lamont Cranston band. I was thrilled when Purple Rain came out, although I didn't really know who Prince was, or why he was so great.

I also went to see: Michael Franks, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Dan Fogelberg, Emerson Lake and Palmer, The Moody Blues, Marcel Marceau, Diana Ross, Supertramp, and Sade.

Lately I've seen the incredible Sting, the amazing Paul Simon and obnoxious Bob Dylan at an outdoor amphitheater. Here, the sun sets behind the stage, which is not nearly as nice as the Red Rocks outdoor theater that John Tesh used to kick-off his music career.

As old habits die hard, I work the Welcome booth at an outdoor music and art festival each year. There I have seen: Keiko Matsui, Sypro Gyra, Al Jarreau, Melissa Etheridge, Shawn Colvin and a rocking George Thorogood.

One of the dinner restaurants nearby has a standing gig for reggae bands, so I go there every once in awhile. Although there is a jazz club nearby that I have been to half a dozen times, I recently saw Diana Krall in a medium-size concert hall lined with red velvet and dark wood, expressly made for sumptuous sound - and she was incredibly flawless. A magical experience.

Thanks for listening!

This message has been edited by Colin on 01-08-2002 at 12:39 AM

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Wow Colin, that is an impressive list! When thinking about your questions I also started remembering a lot of shows I had forgotten, but my list wouldn't even come close to yours. I also enjoyed your summary of music along the Canadian border and the Twin Cities. I think you hit it on the head!

Thanks for the post. It rekindled my desire to get out and see more live music. Just have to make a point of doing it more often.

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Originally posted by deang:

I heard Pink Floyd in Cleveland Municiple Stadium back in late 70's. They actually waited for the stadium to fill and then announced they were going to perform a series of 'tests' beginning with 'pink noise' - and asked everyone to be as quiet as possible while they did this. Ended up being a very good sounding concert.

Man! I am extremely jealous......I have been a "Floyd Fanatic" for only about two years now.......and I want to see Roger Waters or David Gilmour Live......

Pink Floyd rocks!!


Ice is forming on the tips of my wings.....-Pink Floyd, Learning To Fly

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Wow Colin - thanks for the memory jogger. Like you, I too worked at my college coliseum and it was there I got to see many acts.

As an aside, how I got the job there was kinda funny. A friend of mine worked there and told me they had an opening for someone to run spotlights. I told him I had no clue how to operate one, but he said don't worry, just tell them you do and I'll teach you. The operations lady interviews me and asks have I worked with bands before and I said yes (that was the truth - my older sister had a rock band for several years and I worked with her). She asked if I had run spotlights and I said yes (lie). She asked if I had ever operated a SuperTrooper and I said yes (bigger lie). First concert as a student (slave?) roadie and SuperTrooper operator was for Kansas. My friend gives me this 10 minute crash course on how to change out the carbon arc rods, how to insert gels, how the iris works, hands me my headset, says "Just do whatever the lighting director tells you" and runs off to his spotlight. Forged by fire I was. Learned fast, had a great time, made only one spotting mistake and no color mistakes. I was in friggin' heaven.

Best group I worked with - Barbara Mandrell & the Statler Brothers. True class act whether you're a fan of country music or not. Worse group - Waylon Jennings (learned the true meaning of road whores). Stretched the truth of my experience and got to work with the rigging crew that flew the P.A. system for Heart (that was nice concert too). Gino Vanelli was pretty cool to work for and attracted many women. Anyhow, it was great way to see & hear many acts and not only was it free, I actually got paid!

Dragging this thread kicking & screaming back on topic...I like to listen to live music as much as possible not so much for the music, but also for the performance. This past year I did quite a bit of travelling and whichever city I was in I tried to find out where a "locals" spot was for live music. In San Antonio I got to see SRV reincarnated in a place called Tequilla Mockenbirds (beer & Tequilla only). Watched this 20-year Tejano with a beat to hell strat go off into another world as I sat there sipping Porfidio anjeo. No one else was in the room as far as he was concerned - just him and his strat letting loose the blues in manner that was a cross between being in a trance and being possesed by SRV spirit. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about what I saw & heard. Seen many a great guitar player, some famous and some not so famous, and this kid rocked.

Each year I get to work the local Jazz festival (outdoors event) and that's some great music too. Only thing I ever won in my life was a pair of backstage passes to see Rod Stewart. Saw the Police (Syncronicity tour) and had ringing in my ears for two days after a Van Halen (David Lee Roth days) concert. Oh my ged...Alice Cooper, I saw Alice Cooper! There was Lynyrd Skynyrd (Freebird! Freebird!...) and The Doobie Brothers. And in a college bar in Layfette, LA many moons ago I heard this ged awful loud 3-piece band from Texas that was good but destined to go nowhere - WRONG! Yep - ZZ Top was just as loud and looked the same then as they do now.

<sigh> Alas the daydream comes to an end. But perhaps not. There's a weekend looming and my newspaper has a night club happenings listing. Hmmmm...wonder who's at the Velvet Elvis or if Denny Phillips is playing anywhere. Hey, maybe EROK trio will be at Savannah Blues. Yes Klipsch is close to live, but not quite.

Tom Adams

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oh yea, forgot about the doobie bros. saw them at a basketball auditorium in ia city, ia, again as a youngster. seemed like quite a bit of dry ice fog during the show. my mom told me later that she had read a curtain caught fire during the show & had to be extinguished. dry ice, smoke, fire extinguishers; all the same to me. guess i was in my own lil china grove. cwm32.gif


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