Sunday, November 4, 2007

THE STAGE HECKLER: Fleeced by John Zorn & Earshot Jazz

Actually, tonight is a night where i literally WANTED to heckle the stage....so....where do I begin with this one.

Let's see. I've seen over 100 concerts in my lifetime; nearly, if not all of them, being rock, jazz or bluegrass---and through all that I've seem lots of things.

I've seen plenty of equipment failures and things go wrong in the middle of performances. I witnessed Alex Lifeson (guitarist of Rush) run into serious equipment connection/distortion issues, and perform through 2 songs without delaying the show---while noodling with his equipment rack onstage when the tech couldn't figure out what was wrong---and successfully fix the problem. You probably had to be there, but it was beyond amazing---the guy's a total magician, what can I say.

I've also seen bad behavior at concerts; I saw Axle Rose make audiences wait for him while he stalled a show until 1AM in the morning---to the effect that we were watching the sunrise when we got home after the show. I've seen performers get hammered onstage drinking booze, as was the case with Van Halen one time. I've also seen miracles; like the time when Andrew Hill, a jazz pianist fighting cancer and struggling to stay alive, perform and finish his set---all done with professionalism and dignity when he probably should have been resting in bed. After that show he passed less than 6 months later.


I've never, however, purchased a ticket for a concert in which the performer never showed---until tonight. Not only did this guy not show, but he put a surrogate band onstage to fill his absence.

The only time I ever heard of that happening was in the second half of The Wall by Pink Floyd, and in that instance it was obviously intended to be tongue in cheek.

Granted, the performance of what I did see (which I can only describe as a bombastic exorcism being performed live onstage) was mildly interesting, then annoying after 20 minutes. ...but that's okay... as long as it's coming from the person who I came to see---the person whose name is printed on the ticket. If the ticket says "John Zorn" in print, then I reason that John Zorn should appear, most likely playing the saxophone he's known for.

Is that not reasonable? Am I nuts? Was I born yesterday?

According to the head of the Earshot Jazz Festival, I WAS born yesterday.

So after 30 minutes I did something I've never done at a concert event before, in 25 years of attending live shows. I went to find a manager to complain. Assuming I didn't have all the facts, I began by simply asking if the performer printed on the ticket was going to perform. After some discussion the manager mentioned that others had asked the same thing, and it seemed like she was as confused as I was.

Then she caught the "head official" of Earshot Jazz happening to walk by in the lobby, and flagged him down. This is where it got REALLY interesting.

She explained what was happening to him, and then I eventually piped in. It turns out that while John Zorn was "present" for the performance, and while the performance was something he "wrote," he isn't going to be performing in the actual performance. Furthermore, it was explained to me that there was "information in the literature" that explained that. So I held up my ticket and asked: "Do you mean THIS literature?"

So after trying to figure out what literature we were talking about, I tried to shift the conversation to reason with the guy. When I tried to state that I should be seeing John Zorn perform if he's on the ticket, he gave me this line: "Well, there's 800 in the auditorium who seem to know what's going on, and you're the only one out here who doesn't."

I responded with: "Uh, no, I'm not the only one tonight who's confused by this. If I'm so clueless, then maybe you can help me understand what's happening. I look at a ticket that says John Zorn, then I walk into an auditorium---and no John Zorn. ...so what am I failing to understand?"

After more bullshit about fine print in programs and the Earshot website, I gave up on the guy and walked away, and out of the venue... only to run into two more guys who were just as confused as I was.

So there we stood, each of us Just having been fleeced $34. More on this unfortunate situation in the next couple of days. S

1 comment:

Merry said...

Thanks for writing this.