Sunday, December 11, 2005

Avraham Fried "25" Concert - The Ugly, The Bad (Good & Amazing Coming Soon!)

Let me preface all of this by stating that I generally don't listen to Jewish music. Too much of it used to grate on my ears, and whatever didn't was overplayed beyond belief. I love zemiros, and I love singing with (and listening to) my friends. But I rarely listen to Jewish music.

I was therefore pleasantly surprised that I had an awesome time tonight (last night!?) at the "Fried 25" concert, ostensibly celebrating 25 years of Avraham Fried's effect on Jewish music.

Originally, I was not thrilled with the idea that we were shelling out $30 a ticket for this concert, which featured - in addition to Fried - Pi Shnayim, The Kinderlach Boys Choir, and Ohad Moskowitz. Even the $30 per was a deal: We got a slight break as two very good friends of mine were singing as part of the choir, among other things. We went with a best friend of my wife's, who was one of our (absolutely hilarious) Shabbos guests, and got a ride with a few friends of mine. Our seats were right next to another best friend of my wife - whose husband was singing on stage.

The concert, held at Queens College, was completely packed - by my count, there are about 2,500 seats - and I didn't notice more than a few empty ones, and plenty of people were standing as well.

Now, as there was very little that I didn't like (and I'm a cynic), I'm going to work my way up to what I liked. First:
The UGLY
People coming really late. The concert was called for 8:30 PM. Why does that mean everyone is showing up at 8:30-9:00?! We came later than we'd have liked, 8:15, but we picked up our tickets, worked through the throngs, and were seated, by 8:35. There were still people walking in and walking around as late as 9:30 PM. Sad.

Disgusting shoving and pushing, particularly by the women's bathroom, at intermission. Personally, I was forced to laugh at a comment a man made near the food concessions: "Watch out, we're from Brooklyn!" But the same wasn't as funny for my wife and her friend, who were continually getting shoved by the women's stalls - which had a 35-minute line, thanks to all the shoving and cutting (considering they didn't push or cut back). They heard a similar line, but the commenter there was actually shoving.

***People sitting through BOTH national anthems. This one really got my goat, and I'm sure many other people's as well. Though I've never seen this before, they announced they'd be singing both the US and Israeli national anthems before the concert. Now, I don't see why, but they were, so who cares why. They asked people to rise, and almost all did; but some remained sitting, and others specifically sat back down, through BOTH anthems. I half-joked to my wife's friend, "Which do you think bothers some people more? The US anthem or Hatikvah?!", but I was honestly appalled. Is it such a big deal!? You can't show just a little hakaras hatov!? Sick.

The BAD
Talking and standing throughout the concert. Why can't people sit still? I understand standing in your own seat sometimes, but why stand and walk around? It's distracting and annoying. And if you're going to talk, whisper - I don't need to hear you, especially when you're on the cellphone you should have not answered in the first place.

Taking pictures with cellphones. You have a camera, and want to take a picture, fine. It's not all that distracting, seeing as it's as dark as the theater, and you might even get a nice shot to remember the concert with. But a camera phone?! First, it's crappy. Second, in case you didn't realize, none of your pictures can come out from where you are. Third, the huge light from your screen is REALLY, really annoying.

Ending late. The workers were forcing everyone out really quickly, probably because of this... but I can't really complain much. They didn't start too late, and the intermission was short. Nothing dragged, and there were no stories that time was wasted on. But, it was really late, and lots of people checked out just before the end. Which brings me to...

Getting up early. People started to pack out during the (weak, too many people on stage) finale. Can't you wait until he finishes the song?! Worse, he stopped to sing Shalom Aleichem with a speical-ed child - and most people walked out as the kid was singing. Granted, it was quite late - but the extra minute to give a proper ovation for Fried, and give the kid some respect, is not a big deal, is it?!

Music way too loud. Though the second set was not this way, the first set was too loud. The Pi Shnayim duet was somewhat drowned out by the music, and the Boys Choir came out unclear because both the music and their own mikes were set too loud. It seemed a bit better by the time Ohad was up, however it was still pretty bad. Is this a New York thing? In NY in general bands play too loud (by weddings, for example). Don't they realize that they sound nicer when they don't overdo it?!

Coming soon Now, Part II: The Good & Amazing...

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