Sammy the Seal

The Dismemberment Plan, Showbox SoDo, Seattle, WA 3/12/11

In vinyl on Sunday, 13 March, 2011 at 6:50

No twelve hour naps, no workdays to stand in my way of blogging this time! And, not too tired yet either. Some full disclosure first: for the two or three days leading up to the show, I wasn’t excited to go. I even contemplated, briefly, trying to sell my ticket. I just wasn’t feeling it. Part of it was still vibing on last week’s shows, part of it was that I’m not a huge fan, and, well, maybe I was just tired. It’s been a long last two or three weeks.

Now, normally, one goes through the openers before going on about the headliners. Except no one said who they were! The first act, I got there a song late, and never during their set did they say who they were. I have to give props to their drummer, though, he looked totally geeky and his overall look, he just didn’t look like someone you’d think is on the kit, and I loved that. The second, well, they were energetic and the songs were sounded dark and sweeping– too bad they didn’t seem to be aware they were in front of a live audience or opening up for The Fucking Plan. At least the first band acknowledged them. The next one, well, like I said, they were into their set, but they seemed to be performing in a vacuum. And we weren’t mean! We, the people, vocalized our approbation for their efforts. If I recall, they didn’t even come out on stage all together, one guy even went behind the drum set. No intro, just pick up and play. It’s a shame, I might have enjoyed them more if they had actually made contact with us. I guess it’s a good thing they were never identified, or I’d feel a li’l guilty saying all this. (Hell, Asobi isn’t too chatty and yet they acknowledged the importance of having an audience.) Plan frontman Travis gave them both props during their set, but he only said their names once, and, uh, it’s a fucking rock show so I couldn’t really hear him, so I don’t know who opened. Oops!

(popcorn and re-hydration break)

So, wow, it’s been a looooooong time since I enjoyed a show like this. First I must make a note of the crowd. For an indie rock show, it was fairly diverse. Sure, you had your tattooed, indie types, but there lots of normal looking people. Example: I don’t think I’ve ever seen athletic wear at this type of show, not to mention lots of caps– forwards, backwards, and tilted. Oh, and the guy wearing a soccer jersey. It was nice to see lots of people who didn’t look like each other. (Contrast the two Asobi Seksu shows from last week.) It’s great to know that the scope of their appeal is that wide, which is only fitting, as, even they’re indie (well, they might have been more well-known, read the story of Emergency & I), they don’t act like it– they seem to live in the real world. It was just surprising to see people you wouldn’t think to find at an indie rock show, much less singing and dancing to all the songs. But, as the next paragraph explains, that contrast in audience types was a good, and essential, thing.

So, yes, there was lots of dancing, and it was fantastic. I had read that back in the day (7-12 years or so), they were known for their ability to get people dancing, which is nearly impossible with an indie rock audience, so I went against my own rule and got my hopes up. And you know what? The reports were right. People danced. We all did. It’s one thing to get me to dance and move a little, but I don’t pogo (yes, I’m self-conscious sometimes), unless there’s lots of people, and they’re doing it too. It’s more fun when you’re not the only one. You can surmise that, for a few songs here and there, I was pogoing, which hasn’t happened in FOREVER. Pogoing! The whole time, everyone around me was dancing, dancing. There were even a couple of instances of moshing, or at least the annoying phenomenon of people pushing back and forth, and you can’t dance because you’re trying to not get pushed over. A necessary evil, though, like smelly people. Believe me, at times it got kinda funky in there, like genuinely unpleasant, but you know what? That’s always a good thing. Funky means sweat means people are dancing means people want to have a good time, like me! Lots of shows, you can’t tell if they want to be there. I just can’t understand people who go to shows and are LIFELESS. Like why are you here, go home and listen to them on your fuckin’ vinyl, you can be cool and detached all by yourself. The last time I was with a crowd this joyous, uninhibited, and engaged was probably a Hold Steady show. (I must admit, I don’t go to all that many shows, but still. I’ve seen enough “Do the Standing Still” audiences.) Thank you, wonderful co-crowd members!

Of course, dancing is the main reason why I don’t get photos or videos. Again, if I remember, I will find links to add, as there were plenty of cameras in attendance. I just get too wrapped up in the show to stop and record or grab a shot. It takes me out of the moment to document an event, it feels clinical, and to be honest, a little “look at me, I was here!” Part of it is also that I know other people will do it. Also, I no have digital camera. And, as The Format has learned us, “pictures only prove you can’t convince.” Special mention must also be made of the Plan’s drummer, who I swear looked just like Conan O’Brien. I can’t be the only one in attendance who thought that. When Conan is your drummer, you get bonus points for that, and your performance is embiggened.

So, twenty-two songs, close to two hours. They were fully interactive, they made with some gab-gab and yuk-yuk, Travis even did a mini-robot dance during an instrumental break in “Girl O’Clock”. Since this was their only show out west, they probably were able to perform so long without fear of hangover, but still, me grateful. Hell, the encore was five songs. I didn’t see it, but someone in the band must’ve motioned for the audience to come on stage, because before they started encore song #1, people started climbing up. (Earlier, Travis invited some random guy to come onstage to dance for just one song.) When I saw it was running out of room, I hopped on to grab my spot. It was awesome. It was one of the pogo songs, too. “The Ice of Boston” is most definitely a song to jump about to. Of course, the staff then instructed the band to instruct us to return. But as we left, I got a hug from some random audience guy who was obviously feeling the love of the entire evening. I hugged him back, of course, I’m no too-cool ogre. See, when you go to a Plan show, we all may look very different, and smell different, and lead different lives, but for that night, we are all one. The Plan has made it so. I am ashamed to admit I started to lose faith at the end. Of course I didn’t know the encore was going to be so long, but I started to believe they weren’t going to the end the show with “Back and Forth”, which would have been utterly senseless. Not until the opening drum fill was I completely relieved. It felt short, but I think it was because I was having a good time, and I knew it was the end. Of course, that’s the only way it could have ended. These are, in fact, the final lines of the song, hopeful yet very slightly tinged with bittersweetness: “I wonder how you been/you’ll always be my hero, even if I never see you again.” Uplifting yet slightly bittersweet, it’s the perfect cap to a song, perfect cap to an album, and perfect cap to a show.

I should mention, if I haven’t, that, on this brief reunion tour, they played some dates on the east coast…. and Seattle. Nowhere in California, and nowhere in between. (Possibly Chicago?) Either we got lucky, or they love it here. Or maybe they were forced. Nonetheless, they were here, and they gave us an outlet to go crazy. Travis did say, in expressing his appreciation, “you’re fun, and we’re fun.” I’m glad we’re on the same page. Thank you, Mr. Morrison– you were a fine MC– and thank you, Plan.

Set list:

A Life of Possibilities
Following Through
Spider in the Snow
The Face of the Earth
If I Don’t Write
What Do You Want Me to Say?
Bra
Time Bomb
You Are Invited
Memory Machine
Do the Standing Still
That’s When the Party Started
Gyroscope
Ellen and Ben
Girl O’Clock
I Love a Magician
OK Joke’s Over

Encore:
The Ice of Boston
The City
Come Home
The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich
Back and Forth

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