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.