A couple of weeks ago certain planets aligned and I went to two, count them, two concerts, Regina Spektor and Spoon. This is high living for me, since that comes to about 17% of the concerts I have attended in my life so far.
They were both amazing shows. But the venues were like apples and oranges, (literally) like downtowns and suburban malls. Specifically, like First Avenue and Myth the Nightclub. Going with the food simile again, more like apples (if you like apples) and something bad; let’s say spoiled milk.
Regina Spektor played at Myth, in Maplewood (a suburb 15 minutes north of St. Paul). Myth is next door to a shopping mall, has tall boxy walls, and looks, from the outside, like it used to be a Home Depot, a Home Depot with a giant Vegas-style sign showing a fiery “M.”
They frisked me on the way in, and though they were gentle, I wasn’t into it. Digital cameras were banned, we were informed. Before the show started, a girl in red was escorted out, why I don’t know. In the middle of the set, two burly bouncers pushed their way through the crowd on the balcony, where I was, and scanned the crowd on the floor, barking to each other: “Down there!” and “Third row!” Who they were after this time, I don’t know, but the cumulative effect was a lot like prison, with better décor.
I’d never been to First Avenue, the fairly-famous nightclub where Spoon played (it’s featured in Prince’s Purple Rain), but I liked the vibe a lot better. (For Minneapolitans, it felt to me like the CC Club with a stage.)
First Ave was dark, noisy, and relaxed. I can’t imagine that digital cameras or much of anything was banned, and as I stood on the balcony by the stairs, I could barely read the “Stairs must be kept clear for fire hazard” sign through the throng of people cluttering the stairs, hazarding fires. The drinks were good and more affordable. I think I recognized half the people there (although that could have been because we all seemed to wear the same rectangular glasses and Converse sneakers, which tends to make people look familiar in the dark). Tidy, I know, but First Ave felt like the opposite of Myth.
One last thing: although Myth had a stilted vibe for me, Regina Spektor was anything but. She was amazing, full of soul, once beating time on a wooden chair as she sang and played piano, the whole show an accomplished mix of precision and fun.