In addition to the concert I saw on Friday night, I also saw a play, with music, on Saturday night. As it turned out, it was the perfect complement to the Brian Jonestown Massacre concert. “I Will Not Go Gently” is an 1812 production and one woman show from Jennifer Childs. She plays a multitude of characters throughout the show (effortlessly and wonderfully), but the main stories revolve around two main characters, an aging rock star and a woman’s relationship with music as she enters the second chapter of her life.
The play opens with Sierra Mist, an aging rock star about to embark on her comeback tour. Apparently, she disappeared from the scene 15 years prior as a result of her disastrous Y2K concept album. Think about that for a sec- Y2K concept album. I am not even sure what that means, but every time it was mentioned I just started giggling. There was also a companion documentary filmed during the making of the Y2K concept album, which at one point had Sierra Mist wondering aloud, “Will we all turn into a computer chip?”
Throughout the show, Sierra Mist would ruminate about the definition of art, taking chances and risks, selling out to the man, younger, and less talented, rock stars becoming more popular without paying respect to the oldheads who came before them, etc. All the themes that were ranted about the night before in the real life, Brian Jonestown Massacre, concert. It was so interesting how the fictionalized vs. non fictionalized rock stars experiences were basically indistinguishable.
The character that I most identified with during the play was Abby, the 47 year old, former punker, club goer and band member and current mother to a teenage daughter, contemplating what 47 years old means. She has insomnia, so she spends her 3 am time awake podcasting and thinking back to her life when music was so central to who she was. She spoke of how listening to an album was a legitimate activity, where you listened to the album while reading the linear notes spending the time time fully focused on the music. This was, brilliantly, followed by a scene of her daughter texting, skyping, talking, tweeting, snapchatting and Facebooking all while doing homework.
But, back to Abby, the mom. She was caught up in, and thought about, what 47 years old means when she heard about Sierra Mist’s comeback tour. Out loud, she says, “I used to love her.” As she unpacks that statement, she finds herself asking if we use that in the past tense does that mean that who one was during the time one loved a certain musician still exists? I grapple with that a lot. I loved the Grateful Dead during my 20s. And part of the reason I loved them so much was the person who I was during that time. The type who heard about a show and jumped in the car and drove hours to see if I could get into see the show. The impulsive, let’s-see-what-happens-next-kind-of-person I was in my 20s. I miss that person. I can’t even go to the supermarket without making a list these days. There is no way I am jumping in a car and driving hours last minute to see if I can get in to see a show.
I cannot recommend this show enough. There was a definite “This is Spinal Tap” vibe to it all. When describing how one young pop star stole her thing, Sierra Mist gave the example of her big hit “Jack in My Box” vs. the other’s hit “Pop Goes My Weasel.” Jack in my Box’s video and song are a must view and listen. I needed to listen to it a couple of times to hear the words over my belly busting laughter. They actually wrote an album to accompany the show and each song is more hysterical than the next.
This year of 50 shows is clearly my “I Will Not Go Gently” as I try to prove (to myself) that I am still a rocker after all of these years.
5 shows to go, 30 days left…