Blonde Redhead was a really great opening act for Interpol. I'd sort of forgotten about them over the past few years, but they really hit my pleasure center. Although I'd never thought of them as being No Wave revivalists, that's how they sounded to me tonight. The crowd actually seemed to dig them, which was interesting.
Interpol was better than I'd imagined they would be. They have a strong enough rhythm section to make up for the distortions of over-amplication. Paul Banks can really sing. And their song structures alternate loud and soft, single instrument and band, fast and slow to pleasing effect. I did think that they lost steam about 2/3 of the way through the set, getting sloppier in their playing. That may have been an illusion produced by the man at the soundboard, however, since he did the typical lame-ass thing of turning up the dials a little for each successive song. There's a limit there and you can't go past that.
I was hoping to have a truly cathartic experience, since this was my first time going to a show in months. Back in January, 2001, when I was finally starting to feel recovered from the pneumonia I'd had the previous fall, I went to see Mudhoney at Club Congress in their next-to-last show with the original line-up and was able, thanks to the proximity of the pit and the nature of the music itself, to really let loose. I never quite managed that tonight, though I came close on occasion. It was too crowded and too smoky, ultimately, for me to really go wild.
The thing I'll remember most about tonight's show, though, was the absurd number of people taking photographs of the band. From high-end digital cameras to mobile phone cameras to the disposable sort you buy as an impulse item at Wal-Mart, there were literally dozens of devices being held up at any given moment. I found this annoying at first, but then realized that the picture-takers were doing a wonderful job of reinforcing the premise of my class on the "documentary impulse." Even when it made it hard for them to enjoy the music, they kept snapping away. Apparently, the need to document the experience took precedence over the experience itself. Or maybe the experience was the same thing as the documenting.
At any rate, I became fascinated as the photographing went on. I could see the viewfinder for many of the digital cameras and watched as their owners peered up at them, trying to overcome the steep angle in order to figure out when to take the picture. I could see the image go in and out of focus in the low light. I could see the good shots that they were missing. And I could see how terrible most of the photos that were taken turned out. I periodically tried to ignore the cameras but eventually gave up, particularly since Interpol's light show largely consisted of lights directed at the audience, obscuring the band in a blurry glow.
One final thing I noted was that the crowd was more diverse than usual for an indie rock show in Tucson. There were many people around me who had clearly driven up from Mexico. There were plenty of other people of color. There were even lots of "white" people who looked chocolate brown, presumably from tanning themselves excessively. That was odd. Who wants a 70s tan these days? Not to mention that bronzed, bleach-blonde sorority girls don't exactly strike me as Interpol's target market. They were there, though, and seemed to enjoy the show.