They say you can’t put a price on happiness. In fact, MasterCard – in an effort to brand itself as the hip, friendly credit card with waggish wit – created a whole campaign around the very notion that certain experiences are essentially outside the realms of economics and commerce. For the bloodsuckers at MasterCard, these experiences are things like seeing your child take her first steps, getting revenge on a cheating ex-boyfriend and losing your virginity – an experience that actually can be bought, but rarely with a credit card.
Credit card companies are the high priests of our fictitious economy, except that they are utterly lacking in soul or spiritual grounding, and the unfortunate lack of a soul prohibits them from seeing one of our culture’s – and perhaps mankind’s – greatest priceless experiences: live music performances. Even for the most well-rehearsed and choreographed acts, a show is an inherently improvisational exercise that can never quite be duplicated. To catch a talented and, more importantly, committed band in the act of creating itself on stage is to catch a glimpse of God’s face – or, at least, his belly button.
In spite of that, there are families to be fed and bar tabs to be paid, and so we must slap a price tag on these awe-inspiring moments. The band must get paid, if only to ensure that it is able to come back next week, well nourished and hydrated, to inject us again with its sweet venom.
Last week, I went to back-to-back CD release shows for Ghost Buffalo and Bad Luck City. The Ghost Buffalo bill at the Larimer Lounge included an impressive array of musicians. Handsome Bobby Lewis, whose folky Americana will be missed when he moves back to Illinois, opened the night, followed by Only Thunder. I’ve been enjoying the Blackout Pact spinoff band’s MySpace tracks for months, but this was the first time I’d caught it live and I honestly can’t wait to see the act – which sounded the way I’ve always wished Minus the Bear would sound – again. The only band in town that could have blown Only Thunder off the stage was Git Some, and they proceeded to do just that, with Chuck, Neil, Andrew and Luke careening through a vitriolic set of raw power. Finally, the stars of the show took ownership of the stage and took us on a log ride of emotional peaks and valleys that left the whole crowd feeling spent and satisfied. The cost for this once-in-a-lifetime experience? Eight bucks. That’s less than some folks spend on Starbucks in a day.
The following night was an equally stellar bill at the 3 Kings Tavern. I’ve already reviewed the show here, so I won’t go into great detail, but allow me to run down the lineup again: stark country-rock from Oblio Duo and the Archers, spacey and spikey alt-rock from Monofog, and whiskey-swigging wickedness from Bad Luck City. I don’t think I stopped grinning all night, except to pour Guinness down my gullet. I felt honored to witness the event. You might even call it priceless. But there was guy at the door. You know what he wanted in exchange for the honor? Five bucks.
For comparison’s sake, consider this. When Kanye West plays the Pepsi Center next month, you won’t be able to get a ticket for less than 40 dollars. An admittedly tasty but easily forgotten breakfast burrito at Pete’s Kitchen will set you back $6.75. Hell, you can’t even get in to see College Road Trip for less than 10.
Local live music, even at its most expensive, is the best entertainment value going. If you need further proof, this Friday night, at Hi-Dive, you can see the stunning string wizardry of Strangers Die Every Day, the thundering space-pop of the Swayback, and the cathartic rock of Born in the Flood – all for seven bucks. Break out your cardboard sign and head to the intersection to start panhandling now. For less money than you spent on your last parking ticket, you can be seduced, get dry humped, fall in love, and have your heart broken.
And you can’t put a price on that. -- Eryc Eyl