Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Upstaged By Puppets - Beck Live at the Wiltern

I really miss Beck. I've seen the guy about 15 times over the past nine years. From 1996-1999 he was one of the best live entertainers on the planet. Since then, each show has been a little worse than the one before it. On Wednesday night at the Wiltern he was downright boring. He stood on stage like he'd rather be anywhere else but there. It took him about 30 minutes to even address the audience ("I wanna thank my friends and family for coming out to the show. It's good to be home."). Apparently he needs some new inspiraton, LRH doesn't seem to be cutting it anymore. A friend once warned me against seeing George Jones ("he'll just play all the songs you wanna see in a medley"). Guess what Beck did? Lots of medleys. Did you like Midnight Vultures? He summarized pretty much the whole record into a ten minute medley? Do you like "Loser"? How about watching the recorded version lip synched by puppets? And the sound at the Wiltern is horrible. Beautiful venue. Awful sound. I've seen a lot of shows there, and it's always a little disappointing. I'm so relieved when the bands I like play somewhere else, after I've seen them at the Wiltern, and they sound great (Wilco, Secret Machines, Belle & Sebastian, etc.). The gimmick for this show was the puppets. He hired puppeteers (one of whom was the puppeteer in a short film I worked on - Stool Pigeon) to stand behind the band with puppets in the image of each member of the band. A camera man filmed the puppets and then projected the puppet concert on a giant screen behind the band. It was cute. There was even a short movie that was very humorous right before the encore. The puppets went to Dodger Stadium, Millie's, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the band made fun of itself. For me that was the highlight of the show. During an extended boring part of the set, Beck played acoustic guitar while the rest of the band sat around a dinner table on stage (a gimmick he's been doing for a while, including his last El Rey show). Beck used to be charismatic and fun and connect with his audience in a way most performers would be jealous of. On Wednesday night he seemed to be taking the audience for granted. I'll definitely think twice before plopping down another $50 to see him.

6 comments:

dan said...

The first time I saw beck was during the Midnight Vultures tour and was blown away. I agree that it is a different beck touring now than was back then, but I still think he puts on a good show. Tuesday nights show seems very similar to your show on Wednesday. I was still highly entertained and would still want to see him over some other big venue shows out there.

Passion of the Weiss said...

Now that you mention it, I never even put together the fact that all the bands I've seen at the Wiltern put on sub-par shows (most recently Voxtrot), but I saw the Secret Machines play at the Wiltern last year (I assume the same show you're talking about) and they were underwhelming, especially compared to Coachella where they KILLED it. The only band I've ever seen do justice to the Wiltern was the Pixies. Then again, it was the Pixies. Nice review.

stanhalen said...

yeah, definitely not his best show. totally agree he needs new inspiration or something. it's sad when the puppets are the most memorable thing (other than how bad the show was).

Wiltern = bad sound, bad show. it also didn't help that some homeless woman spit at us as we walked to the show from our parking spot a block away.

On a side note: the Jenny Lewis / Watson Twins show at Spaceland last night was one of the best shows I've seen. It didn't matter that it was 150ยบ degrees in there - all love, baby.

Duke said...

I'm harsh with my beck criticism since i know what he's capable of....

Cloak said...

I have to agree but I convinced myself to like the show since I paid a scalper three digits to get tickets.

But there is also a rumor going around that Beck's keyboardist is creating a puppet band. I wonder if that had anything to do with Beck's puppets.

Anonymous said...

Isn’t Beck and Scientologist?