I started my week with a trip to the Doug Fir (one of my favorite live music venues) to see a little band called One Eskimo. I sent out an email the previous weekend trying to round up some friends to go, and I got a lot of responses saying things like, “I can’t make it because…” You fill in the blank.
I honestly didn’t care, because I was determined to go no matter what, even if I had to go alone. I had seen One Eskimo at the KINK Live Performance Lounge a few months back, and I wanted to come out to support them for the end of their U.S. tour. Besides, it is a kid-free week for me and I need to socialize!
My friend Michael ended up coming with me.
It was one of those really crappy rainy days that came on the heels of the deep freeze in Portland. We met at the Doug Fir bar upstairs a full three hours before the show was to start, and just ate dinner, had a drink and caught up.We hadn’t seen each other in person for many many months.
We finally walked down the stairway to the basement venue and it was almost totally empty. We stood around the bar, looked around the room, and decided that this would make the most awesome party room in a house.
People slowly started filtering in to see the first band whose name I couldn’t tell you because when they had the chance to introduce themselves the lead singer said, “Hi, we’re blesd leits. Thank you for coming.” Obviously their name is not “blesd leits,” but that’s what we heard.
Michael turned to the bartender and said, “What was their name?” The bartender pointed to the poster above the bar that said something with the word lights in it (I still don’t remember).
“What is with these bands and their mumbling?” I said. “They have this great opportunity to get their name out, and they wait until the end of the set to introduce themselves and then they totally blow it.”
“Believe me I know,” said the bartender. “I have seen a lot of bands from behind this bar, and there are three things I want to tell them. One, get some decent publicity shots. Two, Banter with the crowd, Three, say your name clearly and say it multiple times.” Amen!
The first band never talked to the “crowd,” except to self deprecate when they messed up a song.
When the band had finished their last song, and the crowd of about 50 people started to buzz again, Michael and I began to observe. There was a group of 20-something friends at some tables against the wall. A dreadlocked girl approached the table. One of her male friends turned to see her approaching and they both smiled with enthusiasm and embraced in an unabashed bear hug. They were not a couple. They were just friends who were happy to see each other. And not one of them was texting. They were there with each other, and fully present.
“What has happened to us?” I asked Michael. “Why don’t people our age have that much enthusiasm for each other?”
“I know,” he said. “They seem so naive and innocent.”
So what has happened to us? Have we let Facebook and Twitter replace our need for real human interaction? We put our most intimate emotional needs out their in a status update and hope someone will comment and fullfill that desire to feel needed and loved.
It’s a bandaid for a fatal disease. Real social intimicy is dying.
I struggle to get my friends to go out to hear live music, find a new restaurant, taste some new wine.
If the Internet died tomorrow, where would you be?
One Eskimo came on at 10pm, and I have to say I was a bit disappointed at their lack of interaction with the crowd as well. Very little eye contact, no banter. I enjoyed the music, but I enjoy it more when the band interacts with the audience, especially in a small venue like this where you can actually see the people you are playing for.
Even bands have forgotten how to be social.
I stayed afterwards to talk to one of the band members (Pete Rinaldi). We talked about the tour, the fact that they’ve been wearing the same clothes for a year, and how they’ve been stuffed in a decrepit van traveling the U.S. We talked about what it feels like to go home after you’ve been away for a while.
I think a lot of us have forgotten.
Unplug more often. Hug more often. Remember what it feels like to go home.