Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kenny Loggins

I've been to a LOT of concerts over the years ... good ones ... bad ones ... incredible shows that literally took your breath away ... and some that left you feeling a bit disappointed (and perhaps even losing some affection for a particular artist you previously held in high regard.)  

But amongst all of those mixed emotions, the one adjective I've never felt before was ... bored.  Yet last night, at the Kenny Loggins show in Elk Grove Village, I can't think of a single, more descriptive adjective to use.  

It's not that Kenny was bad ... quite the contrary ... he sang all the hits you'd want to hear and sounded good enough performing them ... he just never grabbed me.  (I should immediately point out that this was NOT the case with the greatest majority of the audience, most of whom seemed to be having the time of their lives out there on what turned out to be the most PERFECT night to sit outside and listen to music, despite threats of rain all day long.)

He just never grabbed ME.  I don't know how else to put it.  I found the whole thing rather low-key and a bit lack-luster, almost like Kenny was just cranking out what he had to in order to fill his hour.  And that in itself was one of the things that annoyed me the most ... he played EXACTLY one hour and then left the stage.  It was SO contrived and calculated ... ALL of the big hits had been saved for last ... surely nobody else who has ever performed at one of these Elk Grove Village Mid-Summer Night Concert Series Shows has ever done a set this short ... so there was never any question that he'd come back to do an encore of all the songs everybody out there really came to see ... it was truly a pointless, aggravating and calculated moved ... and held absolutely ZERO surprise factor. (Was he really NOT going to do "Footloose"?  "Danger Zone"?  "Your Mama Don't Dance"?  I don't think so.)

And here's another thing that annoys me more and more as I get older ... WHEN are these artists going to realize that we didn't come here to hear thousands of Elk Grove Village music fans sing "House At Pooh Corner" and "Danny's Song" ... we came here to hear YOU sing it.  All these artists who constantly turn the mic toward the audience to have them sing lose me immediately the moment they do this.  And SO many of them do this ... repeatedly ... that there's no longer anything the least bit unique about doing it!

Taking it an annoying step further, Kenny even split the audience into "now the girls sing this part and the boys sing this part" on what ended up being about a fourteen minute version of "Celebrate Me Home".  It just wouldn't end!!! I can honestly state, without ANY fear of future contradiction on my part ... that I don't EVER have to hear that song again in my lifetime ... and may even die a happier man should this be the case.  Talk about milking it ... AND wasting fourteen minutes of your sixty minute set!  That's a quarter of the show spent on one song ... and not even one of your best!

Another batch of time was wasted with Kenny promoting his "new band" Blue Sky Riders, sort of a country-trio that also includes songwriter Gary Burr and singer Georgia Middleman, sharing the spotlight for three straight songs that nobody knew.  Again, not that they were bad songs or weak performances ... they just never grabbed me ... or made me feel like Kenny would soon be on the comeback trail with this new musical venture.

Worse yet was his plea for Kickstarter funds to allow them to record their next album.  Come on, Kenny ... you've written DOZENS and DOZENS of hit songs and, per your introduction, Gary Burr has written 14 #1 Hits and about 30 other Top 40 singles ... do you guys really need the fans' money to go in and cut a new album to launch your latest musical venture???  If you're so sure of this new direction, put your OWN money behind it and get it out there for people to hear.

I believe Kickstarter has already outlived its purpose and is now being abused on a regular basis.  The whole concept behind this organization was to potentially give a break to a new, upcoming artist to launch a project that otherwise might never have gotten off the ground, no matter HOW good it was, because they simply didn't have the necessary funding to help get it to the public ... talented new upstarts getting that one big break for a shot at the big time.  Now it seems that there isn't a week that goes by where some MAJOR artist with a 40+ year career isn't trying to take advantage of their public by getting them to front the bill for a new project ... and it REALLY annoys me.

Fact is, nobody buys CD's anymore.  Remember a few years back when N*Sync sold something like two and a half million copies of their brand new CD the first week?  Last week Weird Al topped the charts with sales of about 65,000 ... and THAT's considered high by today's standards.  Put the music out there if you believe in it ... even if it's one track at a time ... and if we like it, we'll shell out the $15 to buy it ... but don't ask us to kick in $85,000 in advance so you can go record the damn thing!!!

Kenny performed with a stripped down band consisting of only three support players (shy of the Blue Sky Riders mini-set) which probably accounted for some of the lack-luster feel of the concert ... it's tough to reach highs and lows with that little musical and vocal support.  Honestly, until he hit the encore (which, by now was 75 minutes into the concert), I found very little to cheer or get excited about.  But the back-to-back readings of "Danger Zone" and "Footloose", two of Kenny's biggest movie hits, had the whole crowd up on their feet at last ... and he did them justice.  (I'm afraid I can't say the same for my personal favorite Kenny Loggins tune, "I'm All-Right" from "Caddyshack" ... kicked off as sort of a Louisiana stomp / bayou rendition, it just never jelled, again primarily because there just wasn't enough musical and vocal support behind it to pull of this complicated piece of work, my favorite simply because it IS so vocally challenging.)

Kenny's show wrapped up a VERY successful series in Elk Grove this year ... record crowds turned out each week and last night was no exception.  (I waited about 50 minutes just to buy a sub sandwich before the show ... lines were out the door at all of the neighboring food venues.)  Organization needs to be better if these are the types of crowds Elk Grove can expect in the future.  (It took another 45 minutes just to get out of the parking lot!)

And the concert venue itself was an absolute mess ... there were literally chairs on top of each other, people were so crammed into the allowable space.  They need to clear aisles so people can navigate their way through the complex.  I overheard policemen talking about how if anything were to happen last night, they couldn't even get an ambulance in to tend to the issue ... and that's just wrong (not to mention incredibly unsafe.)

And, naturally, (as ALWAYS seems to be the case at these Elk Grove shows) we had the usual crowd of belligerent concert goers surrounding us ... these folks seem to be a main-stay at the Elk Grove shows for some reason ... I don't know why ... people just want to come out and listen to some music and have a good time ... yet there seems to be a select percentage of the audience who will only be satisfied if they can turn the evening into something confrontational.  Worse yet, we saw more than a few dozen people who had WAY too much to drink and would soon be trying to drive themselves home.  For the safety of all concert attendees, Elk Grove REALLY needs to crack down on these issues for 2015.  They've got a GREAT thing going here and are drawing HUGE crowds out to these shows ... but one serious, mismanaged incident will end it all ... please rethink this arrangement in the future!