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Monday, October 15, 2007

Dear Van Halen,

Hi. My name is Rob. You don't know me and I'm not going to pretend to be your biggest fan or anything like that. I'm pretty casual, in fact, but there was a time when I really dug your music. Hell, I'm pretty sure I still have my old 8-track of Women and Children First kicking around somewhere.

Anyway, I was at your concert last night. I have to admit, the 12 year old in me was pretty jazzed, as I never got to see you back in the day. Sure, it would have been nice to see the whole band, but to me VH was always Eddie and Diamond Dave. Glad you guys pulled it together, even if the cynic in me knows it was just a cash grab.

The reason I'm writing though is, well, I left the show more than a little disappointed. No, it's got nothing to do with Wolfie, or you didn't play my favorite song or what have you. In fact, I'm sure you played my favorite song, but the problem is I wouldn't even know if you did.

Confused? No, I wasn't on anything or drunk out of my mind. It's just that I was up in the nose bleed seats and from where I was not only was it impossible to see, but it was impossible to hear as well.

Yeah, I know. It's an arena show. Those things are always murder for the sound crew. But I've been to several other shows at this same arena and sat in the same seats and was able to hear pretty well. The show I was at Sunday night was a little like hearing Van Halen's greatest hits played from a booming car stereo about a block away. Maybe not even that good.

And while it looked like you had a great video screen going on, you shoved it in the back of the stage. All we up high could see was a corner and a bunch of rigging and wire. Again, other folks have made it so we could at least watch the action on the screen, though we were too high to really see the stage well.

It was so bad, we had to look up a set list on the cell phone to know what song was playing. It's not for lack of familiarity with your catalog, it's just everything was a blob of bass with some cymbal on top.

We decided to call it an early evening because it didn't seem like things were going to get any better and, I gotta tell ya, the difference just walking down the stairs to the exit was dramatic. Granted, I wouldn't confuse what I heard near the exit with high fidelity, but I could at least tell what song I was listening to. It wasn't great, but it was passable for an arena rock show.

Like I said, I know sports arenas are hardly ideal venues for rock concerts. They are big and boomy and acoustic nightmares. But I've heard it done a lot better in that same room, so I know it can be done. I'm really not expecting perfection, but I think the people in the $80 "cheap" seats deserve to at least see and hear a little of what's going on. Don't you?

Respectfully yours,

Rob Guernsey


Anonymous said...

That sucks. :( There's an art to putting on an arena show and some guys just don't get it. Sigh. Strange that VH would be one of those not-getting it guys. Guess they're rusty. :)

Joel Reed Parker said...

Van Halen? More like Van Sucken, RIGHT!?!?