Last Night's Merriweather Post Pavillion Was, Well, Pretty Cool, I Guess.
- The weather--it was freakin' freezing out.
- The power outages from the freakin' freezing rain left areas all across the city and all around Lower Greenville plenty in the dark.
- The disc has, um, been pretty prominently leaked for a over a week now.
- Given this age of leaks we live in, the concept of a listening party seems a little dated, no? Wouldn't everyone who wanted to hear the disc before its release already have downloaded it?
Nonetheless, it went off fairly well, even if the crowd--40 to 50 strong, I'd say--was as tentative as could possibly be at the start of the event. There were a whole lotta people somewhat uncomfortably standing around (some even sitting on the floor), as they waited for the event to kick off. No one really knew what to expect.
Why was this being held in a music venue? Why not a record store?
No one really knew. Nor did anyone really care. Turns out, as expected, everyone I spoke with at the event had, indeed, already heard the record. They still showed up at the venue, though. Out of curiosity, more than anything else.
They'd come, basically enough, to see what the fuss over the event was about, and what it was like. And, actually, the fact that they'd all pretty much heard the disc before seemed to work out in the event's advantage. This wasn't a kumbaya, sit-and-listen crowd; few in attendance seemed comfortable with the idea of sitting silently and taking in the music.
In fact, it played out more like a happy hour, with Animal Collective serving as the soundtrack as people milled about the space. The music, more than anything, gave everyone a common talking point (and, the fact that they'd heard the disc prior helped, too, as in: "Oooh, this is my favorite song on the disc!").
It was less a listening party and more of an informal book club-like environment. A little boring? Sure. But there was no pressure for excitement. It was a pretty lax crowd.
Overall, I kinda dug it, for what it's worth. Might be cool as a regular event somewhere, with a new disc to be heard every couple of weeks or so. Y'know, just so like-minded music fans can get together and talk about the disc. That's always fun. Who knows if we'll see an event like this in the near future, though. And who knows if 40-50 people would show to listen to a disc that didn't come with some pretty substantial early praise.
Tough to say. But the free stuff (digital downloads, posters, day-glo Radio UTD ray-bans) didn't hurt this time around. --Pete Freedman
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