Maroon 5 and Counting Crows @ Shoreline

Wednesday night… I hadn’t planned on doing anything much, when F2 offered cheap tickets to Maroon 5 & Counting Crows at Shoreline. I’d forgotten about it. When the concert was announced two or so months ago I was adamant I would go – I mean, c’mon, it’s Counting Crows – but I couldn’t find a soul to go with me… that coupled with $120 a ticket, made it easy to put on the backburner, which apparently went out when I wasn’t looking.

But, F2’s roommate Ryan, whom works at Google, snagged cheap lawn tickets, and it turned out there was a haphazard group of some dozen or more of us. Or something – at any given time F2 and I were accompanied by anywhere between zero and half a dozen people, non of whom seemed to be sure what they were doing, and all of whom seemed to be seeking better company elsewhere. Not insultingly, just… yeah, they were all over the place.

Augustana opened, whom I’ve heard of before – I think they toured through S.F. earlier in the year – but I can’t place a single song to them, so when the others were in no rush to get there to see them, I went along in laxadasialness (phonetics for teh win!). We first went to the Sports Page (bar) to meet everyone, where we also grabbed some bar burgers (lukewarm, a little soggy… exactly the kind of thing that would be craved irresistibly and, naturally, irrationally by very drunk people)… I think F2, myself and a women we met there were about the only people who weren’t from Google… and we were all from Apple. :D

We got on our way eventually, when we got word that Augustana had finished and Maroon 5 would be up after the interval. We thieved a trio of Google bikes from the bar in order to get to Ryan’s car… I’d forgotten that Google have a couple of thousand bicycles all about their campus, for people to use to get around. They’re mostly pink, in the classic 1950’s frame style, and in my case inexplicably had a basket, a big flag pole (sans flag) and, most entertainingly, peddles that weren’t even close to being attached straight. They rotated most disturbingly under foot as you peddled.

Oh, and fixed gear bikes, naturally, which I haven’t ridden since I was a kid, I think… very weird to be back on… I could barely resist the urge to skid every ten feet. :D Not that I needed to, since the whole setup was so irregular that just the idea of stopping suddenly was fearful, which it turns out was well-founded.

We ended up walking into the amphitheatre just as Maroon 5 took the stage. We found a reasonable spot fairly quickly – behind the special needs section, slightly off-centre, but basically on the lawn fence. I could see the stage largely without obstruction, but then at that distance it might as well be an ant farm.

In summary Maroon 5 were actually pretty reasonable… the lead singer actually does have more facial expressions than “I’m so god-damn sexy and go through fifteen women a day”, it turns out, and sang flawlessly. Not especially lively on stage – there’s only five in the band and it’s a bloody big stage, so it was oddly empty…

When the stage lights were lit on the audience I glanced around a few times, and discovered that – at least where we were sitting – pretty much everyone was either a high school girl, or a high school girl’s parents. It was kinda funny… but also a little disconcerting; did any of these girls even know who Counting Crows were?

We found out once Counting Crows started… within fifteen minutes half of them had cleared out. Most stayed to see how they were, for sure, but Counting Crows opened with an extremely soulful Round Here, very very ad-hoc, acoustic, live… to me it was too strong – like bad overacting, but, everyone else seemed completely taken by it; Ryan commented about that one bit in particular, the next day. But then subtlety never survives here anyway. :)

They went through some of their newer songs, of which I don’t have any great familiarity – they seemed to pick some obscure ones, imho – though they did play some of their more popular classics. Not Mr Jones, though, surprisingly – they slipped in a verse or so at one point, but that was it. They did play Colourblind, which was the only song that the teenagers seemed to recognise – the little hunting pack of girls right behind us were told very firmly to listen up ’cause this is the best song ever, by one of their number… so, I guess I have to give them damn kids these days some credit, though I bet she only knows it ’cause of Cruel Intentions…

They did the typical “okay, we’re leaving now, bye… no really, yeah we are, honest, guv”… then came back of course. It’s kind of cute the way every band here seems contractually obliged to do at least one fake finish per show, but, the effect is largely mooted by the fact that anyone who’s ever seen a live show in S.F. is well aware of it.

They ultimately finished up with Rain King, which while not my initial choice for a closer, was very very good.

By the end I was kind of… mixed, in feelings… I had high expectations, and I don’t think they were really met; certainly not exceeded, which is of course what anyone really expects when they have high expectations. Their performance was too ad hoc, too ‘live’… I’m all for a solid acoustic rendition of a studio song, with all the variations that entails, but… yeah, this was just too far. I just wanted to sit back and relax and rock out to some real solid tunes, not strain to some wild reinterpretation.

Mid-show wosisname, the singer, talked a bit about some of the volunteer groups they had given free admission to. He ended with one, which he described as most important [in his own opinion], which was some group associated with voting. Yep, voting. He actually gave a really eloquent little speech about the need for everyone there to vote in the upcoming elections. Heck, even I was inspired, and I hate that crap. That part of the show was way above any expectations. He certainly has a ridiculously successful career in inspirational speaking waiting for him, if he gets tired of the rockstar lifestyle. :)

It was a good night out, all in all; fun had by all, even if I wasn’t as satisfied as I could have been.

Also, wosisname looks quite a lot like Osama bin Laden. It’s true.

Two random points – when Maroon 5 left the lead dude threw his guitar way up in the air and let it crash back down onto the stage. It hardly seemed to hurt it, though – I don’t even think he snapped a string. It was amusing though. And he then handed it to some random girl in the front row, which is a pretty sweet souvenir… I didn’t even get a poster. :( Though, I presume she then had to hold onto the darn thing for the next two hours through Counting Crows et al as well, which might have been interesting… fighting off rabid groupies…

Another interesting point was when F2 and I were joined for a while by some random girl – friends of friends of Ryan, I think – apparently dubbed ‘Morgan’. She noted when she sat down that she didn’t want to talk, else she’d talk our ears off, and within a minute was indeed doing exactly that, to F2. She seemed really nice, a point which I think F2 also picked up on, ;), as he seemed to be looking for her for the rest of the show, once she disappeared ostensibly to visit the bathroom; she never returned. I didn’t ask overtly, though, and he didn’t deny overtly, either. ;)

So that was that… there are much worse ways to randomly spend a week night, for sure. :D

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