For music fans, early spring is an exciting time. It's pre-season.
Usually, tour speculation begins late in the previous year, and by January or February the rumors are everywhere. It's like a fisherman who spends long January afternoons dreaming of the lake, or baseball fans talking with their friends about spring training, hoping to hear some new piece of info, no matter how small, that they can pass along to someone else.
A blog post here, a Twitter comment there, and the excitement starts to build. Who's going to be touring, where they'll be playing, what sales will look like, who the opening band will be...opinions fly everywhere, and concert fans love it.
And in the spring, the announcements finally come, followed by the dash to buy tickets. After tickets are bought, it's time to compare notes and see who's going to what shows and who has the best seats.
2020, of course, shook it all up. It's not just that there are no concerts this year...it's that the realization that there would be no concerts this year came so quickly on the heels of everyone buying tickets. So there was the regular yearly build up of excitement, which all came crashing down. Bummer, right?
So what do we do? No shows until next year, right?
There's one answer that, while some people will find it lackluster, has stopped the gap for me: Concert DVDs.
I've always loved concert videos. As a teenager, before I was old enough to go to shows (my first show was Jimmy Page & Robert Plant in 1995, when I was 15, and my Dad was cool enough to take me to), I had an enviable collection of concerts on VHS tapes, which I practically wore out. And I've never stopped collecting them.
Alice Cooper. Guns N' Roses. Elton John. Queen. Metallica. T. Rex. Deep Purple. And so many more. And a big part of the magic is that you can see shows from different eras.
Want to see Queen in 1974? Pick up "Live at the Rainbow." Travel in time to see them at Wembley in '86? No problem. That's on DVD, too. And how about the magic of seeing a legend like Freddie Mercury who's been gone for all these years?
As they've moved onto DVD and technology has changed, the concert-on-video experience has improved drastically. I love classic concerts (Aerosmith at Texxas Jam '78, anyone?), but there's no denying that in the last 20 years, filmmakers have really mastered the art of the concert DVD.
With older videos the cameras themselves had limitations (check out the purple lines that followed the stage lights on Queen's: "On Fire: Live at the Bowl" set -- which is an awesome show, by the way!), newer concert films benefit not only from newer tech, but also from the experience that filmmakers now have. Not only are the shots perfectly chosen, but the trend in the last 20 years of having fewer edits really improves the experience for the viewer.
The 80s were especially guilty. Too-fast cuts and unnecessary (and annoying!) special effects drag the viewer out of the experience. They remind you that you're watching a video. Better editing - less editing - makes you feel like you're actually there.
Some great examples are Alice Cooper's "Live at Montreaux," The Rolling Stones' "Shine a Light," Bruce Springsteen's "Live in New York City" and "Live in Dublin," Tom Petty's 30th Anniversary Concert (part of the "Runnin' Down a Dream" DVD set). These are all relatively recent shows (from the last 20 years), and are all beautifully filmed, really putting you right there in the front row.
So...this summer, I've been going to concerts in my living room. One of the tricks is that I treat it like an actual concert. I decide early in the week who I'll be seeing that weekend, and I find myself looking forward to it all week. When I watch the show, all the lights go down in my living room, and the volume goes up, and then, there they are, with all the fire and glory of a real show.
Of course, nothing can replace the actual live experience. And I had tickets to quite a few show this year. But the music goes on, and I'll be seeing some of the greats this year.