Concerts are about many things, not just joy.
Concerts are about a last minute gift of tickets to see Rickie Lee Jones, a show I'd coveted (but couldn't afford at $55 a ticket), a gift extended late this afternoon as I'm sitting with friends eating riverside.
They're about telling my favorite Rickie Lee Jones fan I got tickets and hearing, "Well, if you don't have a date, I'll make the time!" We allow enough time to walk given the magnificent Indian Summer weather.
Concerts are about arriving at Capital Ale House half an hour before the doors open for the show, being told to return at 7:00 and when we do at 7:02, the music hall is nearly full.
In the case of this concert, they're also about Rickie Lee Jones' rules, which include all plates being removed from the tables before she begins singing. A great idea in theory, except when doors aren't opened until an hour before showtime, feeding a sold out roomful of hungry show-goers and clearing plates in 60 minutes is damn near impossible.
Concerts are about last minute food (ours) and trying to eat very quietly once Rickie Lee Jones comes out and says, "This is the only thing I'm going to say about the election," then launches into "Lap Dog" and afterwards drolly observes, "I'm bored talking about politics now."
Excellent concerts are about hearing a singer with a distinctive voice treat the audience to many of her older, sadder songs (probably because she knows her $55-a-ticket audience wants to hear them) with running commentary that sounded toned in between ("We're all part of one big spirit, right?").
This concert was also about admitting that she didn't know all the answers to life, but if people wanted to form a church to worship her - "The Church of Rickie Lee" - she was fine with that.
Concerts for a musician who first came to notice in the late '70s are bound to include self-deprecating remarks about an early hit, such as, "Sometimes this song is a little anti-climatic, but let's see what happens," and then nailing "Chuck E.'s in Love" effortlessly as the crowd alternately laps it up and reverts to personal memories of 1979.
Sometimes concerts provide hints about where an artist grew up, as when Rickie Lee Jones says, "I appreciate you coming out when the Cubs are in the playoffs."
And, as any regular show-goer will tell you, sometimes people behave badly at concerts.
After another exquisitely-rendered song, a guy behind me let out a piercing whistle as he applauded his appreciation, causing the sound guy directly in front of him to immediately ask him to refrain for the sake of his ears.
A song or so later, the guy got loud again and the sound guy got firm about the rules again.
Slamming his beer bottle down next to my elbow, the whistler shouted, "Concerts are about having joy!" and stormed off.
Concerts can also be about inadvertent humor. "Thanks for coming out to the ale place!" Rickie Lee Jones said vaguely at the end of her set, sounding like she had no clue where she was. But I didn't know what "PLP" was back in '79, and that didn't matter, either.
Joy was had, but this concert was about being part of one big spirit together. Right?