The wind cries 'Mayer'

At least I had a few days of warning that things might not be quite what I had imagined. A crawfish festival for charity with a five-dollar donation—surely, there wouldn't be a lot of publicity for this? After all, when I bought that John Mayer CD a couple of months ago, nobody had heard of him…although I'd gotten hints that his (small) fanbase was (extremely) devoted…

Except that in the meantime, things had changed. I knew that I'd heard his single on the radio several times, but then Jessica said the words that began to indicate that my dreams of a small and lovely concert were doomed to failure: "You know he's been getting heavy rotation on MTV, right?"Oh dear. This could be a problem. Suddenly 'unpromoted cheap appearance at crawfish festival' was looking more like a 'MTV-flavor-of-the-week priced just right for broke college students finishing up finals' concert. This could be a BIG problem.

The plan: Jeremy and I would arrive about an hour and a half before the concert. Mayer was slated to be the last (and featured) artist on the main stage. Surely, we thought, in that time, we'd be able to work our way up toward the stage.

That was before we got there.

It was packed. The ugly kind of elbow-the-drunks-to-your-right packed that means that people are going to be dropping from heat exhaustion by the end of the concert. I began to realize that we were in a bit of trouble when I looked around and realized that the crowd was mostly barely old enough to qualify as college-aged. Not to mention that there were a lot of them.

Granted, I couldn't see (in festivals like this, my height guarantees I have excellent views of everyone's armpits but little else) but Jeremy, who is much taller, leaned over to me and said, "You can't see it, but this place is jammed." So much for my dreams of a small, funky little concert attended by a couple hundred people.

Then I started listening to the drunken collegiate girls around me, and was more than a little disappointed to continually hear the phrase "Isn't he just hot?" Oh, great—I'm stuck in the midst of many hundreds of drunken collegiate chicks who can think of nothing else but ripping the clothes off of the singer on stage.

He took the stage to the kind of ear-deadening feminine shrieking that one would expect at a boy-band concert. That was when the signs began going up. Since they were in front of me, it took me a minute to read them backwards. That, or it took me a minute to comprehend that someone had actually spent the time to paint a sign that read "We want to layer John Mayer - you can be the meat!"

Um. Yeah. When people mentioned his devoted fanbase, they forgot to mention 'strange' and 'obsessive' and 'weird,' I think.

Better yet, we had an appearance by Unwashed Bongo Man—who, evidently, felt that Mayer didn't bring enough percussion instruments. So what does he do? He brings his own bongo and tambourine! He proceeded to set up shop to our left, and began to play along, despite the fact that the drunks around him were trying to figure out how much of his body could be forced to fit inside his bongo…

I think he was the only person that the crowd actually allowed to the front of the stage. If nothing else, it got him out of everyone's hair.

(Maybe he's on to something…)

Don't get me wrong. It was a good concert. I understand now why Mayer's become as popular as he has been; he works a crowd better than just about any other performer I've ever seen. Looks and musicality aside, he performs. By the third song, he had a fully worshipful crowd (I know, they were collectively shrieking in my ears), and the extra thirty minutes tacked onto his set certainly didn't hurt matters either.

But I could never quite get into the concert. I kept surreptitiously checking the people around me, trying to determine exactly what planet it was that these people had come from…and why they'd chosen to land on my peaceful little blue planet.

It's frustrating to realize that of the attendees, probably Jeremy and I were the only ones singing along when Mayer decided to cover a Jimi Hendrix tune (hint, see title). Everyone else, I think, was just screaming for him to take his shirt off. I wonder if any of them recognized how good of a guitarist they were hearing.

Answer: probably none.

Commentary from spouse: "Sounds scarier than the Ani DiFranco concert you attended a few years ago."

"You got that right."

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That sounds very much like my impressions from the Bealle Street Music Festival last year. Jessica and I went and the music was cool, but the crowd just wasn't right for me. That and Jessica had that lovely arm-pit level view that must make all those lovely, sweaty fans that much more enjoyable to be around. The one time that I have had a lot of fun due to the fans was at CPR Fest in Biloxi and Godsmack was playing. The whole crowd just started to sway. There was no need to jump or dance or anything like that. I've hoped for that at concerts since, but it just never seems to happen. If the crowd starts to move at all, they start to mosh and just simply beat the daylights out of each other. Oh well, these are just my concert ramblings. If it's not obvious, I'm not a big concert go'er anymore. (not that I ever was for that matter)

I love bands that work their crowds. Good coffee, strong coffee. :)

Reminds me of Big Spring Jam this past year. Sean, Jeff, Sarah and I figured we could go to the Incubus concert and have a decent place to stand without too many problems. I didn't realize how much rotation they had been getting on WZYP and MTV, so of course it was a similar situation to what you had to deal with Ames. We wound up just leaving after a little while because the crowd noise was so loud that I couldn't really even hear the band. That and it was damn uncomfortable standing in that crowd.

Even if we wanted to leave, I don't think that we could have. This concert was even more insane than the DMB concert I went to. There was also NO problems hearing. The PA guy made DAMN sure of that. There are quiter airport runways. Overall it was a fantastic concert. I would comment more but my brain is still mush from the sub-sonic bass and little school girl shrills. :)

You know, given a little while to think about it...I really did like the concert. But if I pay to see Mayer play again, I'm going to do it at a place that has assigned seating. I'm getting too old to deal with the drunken college-student crowd. That, and they generally aren't savvy enough to realize when they're being insulted. Takes all the fun out of it...

Well, if he plays at UAH, it depends on where we have it as to whether it'll be enjoyable for you. If it's a small affair inside, you'd likely enjoy it. If it's outside, I'd suggest just getting about 20 rows back. UAH students aren't horrid about being drunkard fools... Oh, and it was funny after you talked about this, Amy, because then I ran into my friend Rachel, who ran into Mayer here in Huntsville at the Mill ... and ate lunch with him. She gushed ... gushed ... and gushed some more. Sweet little Rachel ... :)