I’m not a concert-goer by disposition — I don’t like the crowd aspect of a concert, particularly for lesser known artists. It bothers the introvert in me to be surrounded by strangers who assume an intimacy based on a shared interest. The smaller the group, the higher the level of assumption — if you’re one of six fans at a concert for Uncle Billy and the Goats (I made them up) then all of the other five people are going to try to be your friends, to know when you got your first UBG record, what’s your favorite song, don’t you know the lyrics to their big hit (“Chew These Shoes”). Probably they should try to strike up that conversation — it seems a likely social starting place, right? But a concert, for me, is about hearing the music, seeing how the band interacts, finding out what they do differently when things are live than in recordings. I don’t want the mess of hanging out all around that.
In short: I like live recordings, however paradoxical that seems.
So… I’m the last person on Earth to know about this, right? But the NPR All Songs Considered Live Concert Podcasts have absolutely made my weekend. There are several dozen hour-long concert recordings available, and they include many groups I adore (Spoon, Travis, The Arcade Fire) or have been wanting to hear more from: (Josh Ritter, Stars, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab) or have been told I should check out (Okkervill River, The New Pornographers). I listened to the Rilo Kiley concert tonight while grading papers, and it was really lovely.
I know someone was talking about Rilo Kiley recently, and I apologize, whoever that was, that I can’t remember where I read it (and that I’m too lazy to go back and figure it out; my fear is I saw this on a music group, and then I have no hope of finding the post again). Rilo Kiley is a band from whom I have a few songs, mostly because I heard a melody backing a TV show and bought a single, but haven’t ever taken the time to invest in a full album. This is partly because I don’t really know where to start, and the thirty-second clips I’ve heard on iTunes haven’t caught my ear in the way that the songs I do have (the more known songs, I think: “Portions for Foxes” and “A Man/Me/Then Jim” and “More Adventurous”).
This is where the concert podcast comes in particularly handy: now I have a whole hour’s worth of Rilo Kiley music to choose from! Live versions! It’s wonderful, I tell you.
Also: free! Free, and legal! And available for download through the iTunes store or the NPR site at the above link.