Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hell Is For Children

Pat Benatar / Cheap Trick 
Mountain Winery, Saratoga, California 
June 11, 2013 

The Mountain Winery is a beautiful but also a pain in the ass venue.  Nestled on top of a mountain that overlooks Silicon Valley it's a venue that does not host many shows Umlaut finds interesting or affordable.  However, for better or worse, Cheap Trick seems to play the Winery every year these days.  I assume they get paid very well for these winery gigs but it would be awesome if they played The Fillmore or another standard concert venue in front of an audience of general admission peasants instead of entitled winery types.

Long story short, this was a totally weird show.  First off, Cheap Trick were supporting Pat Benatar tonight.  As a result, something felt *off* with the crowd and I didn't realize until later that the vast majority of the audience were Pat Benatar fan-a-tics.  The silver lining was that I was sitting in the 3rd row but it might as well have been a front row seat; the seating configuration made it so there were no chairs or people in front of me.

Cheap Trick walked onstage.. launched into 'Hello There' and then into 'Elo Kiddies' and the crowd... DID NOTHING!  Of course there were a few Cheap Trick fans but the vast majority of the crowd just sat in their seats and did nothing!  I could not believe it.  I know.. I know.. It was a winery crowd.. but I've seen Cheap Trick at this venue before and it had not been this lethargic at all.

SIT DOWN!!  DOWN IN FRONT!  We're trying to watch the Rock band!  Yes, that iPhone pic was taken during a song... Pathetic.

Indeed.. a winery show.. but even by that standard this was a weird gig.  The crowd was completely anemic during Cheap Trick's set.  It was bizarre and it was obvious the band were annoyed by it too.   At one point in between songs Rick wandered into the crowd and handed out guitar picks to people in their seats while his tech tuned his guitar.  Rick and Robin also both went into the crowd to try and get some "excitement" going.. but to no avail.  

It wasn't until they played "the hit" song  'I Want You To Want Me' that the crowd stood up en masse... but then the masses sat back down when the song ended!  From a fan's perspective it was annoying because Cheap Trick were great as usual and also busted out deep cuts like 'Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace' from their first album.  Anyway, I know the kidz reading this could care less about all of this.  Sorry, kidz... but Cheap Trick still rules for this Old Fart.  For the old Cheap Trick fans like Umlaut:  Yes, Bun E. is still retired from performing and Rick's son is on drums... and they're still GREAT!!  Unfortunately, the awesome creepiness of 'Heaven Tonight' (performed with a roadie looking guy on cello... yes.. a cello..) was completely lost on the winery crowd.  Me love Cheap Trick long time.

 Where are we?? 
[Photo courtesy of Bret]

Thankfully the buzz kill audience didn't deter me from having F-U-N and the highlight of the night was being caught in the middle of the Rick Nielsen guitar pick storm during 'Dream Police'..

The Dream Police.. they live inside of my head... still.. after all these years.

After the lack of energy during the Dream Police's set I was shocked how completely different the crowd was for Pat Benatar.  The crowd went nuts as she took the stage.  Shocking.. but I was also surprised how many young women were in the audience worshiping the woman who sings 'Heartbreaker'.  Unfortunately, while Benatar undoubtedly still has a great voice, her songs sounded painfully 80's and dated.  It was also ironic how her longtime partner guitarist Neil Giraldo bit Rick Nielsen's style and tossed guitar picks to the audience during every song.  LAME.  After a couple of songs it was time to head back to the Prius and beat the traffic out of the horrific Mountain Winery parking lot ahead of the masses.  As we walked into the darkness, Benatar played that song I think is from the Top Gun soundtrack..... What?  Oh.. right.. that was Berlin...  I liked Pat Benatar more when she sang for Berlin.......... (cue rim shot).

If you bought one of every Cheap Trick merch item you would have paid $125... but their merch was pathetic!  They didn't even have the classic "Cheap Trick Cheap Trick Cheap Trick Cheap Trick" black tee for sale!?  WTF...  Their merch company is doing an awful job.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags.  It's always amazing when songs instantly transport you back to a specific time in your life; I was a 15-year old Cheap Trick dork again in a flash tonight... at least for an hour or so.  Meanwhile back in the 21st Century... Umlaut is old.