Let's look at a few signs that a concert is failing:
1) It involves jazz
2) People are leaving and not returning
3) You have an intense case of the giggles
4) Even the guy next to you with no musical talent thinks this is a waste of time
5) You are counting lights on the ceiling
I can sit through most concerts that last less than two hours, but I am not perfect. When I attended Blue Lake Fine Arts camp as a child, sitting through a two hour concert every evening was a bit much for me. My giggling fits and inability to stop commenting on the night's performers meant that I endured a lot of scowls and firm warnings from camp counselors over the years. When I couldn't distract others, I was forced to count the tiles on the ceiling and find flaws in the performer's outfits. Since middle school I have developed a real live attention span which can be prolonged if I have play-doh, candy or some other way to occupy my hands or mouth (let's not go there).
Last night was a challenge; Chanda and I attended a concert in conjunction with Freistadt's summer music festival. Truthfully the concert never had a chance with us. It was a German "liederkreis" or "song cycle" with 24 songs that focused on the theme of romantic love, rivers and eventual suicide. Upbeat to say the least. Instead of a traditional take on the liederkreis, last night's performers combined it with Austrian jazz. Austrian jazz is interesting mostly because it's not. Instead of improvisational jazz, Austrian jazz is completely prepared and leaves no room for artistry during the performance. Already with two strikes against it, this performance was sunk because of the soloists' crazy bug eyes which maintained an unusually high level of discomfort within the auditorium. Five minutes into the first song my eyes started to glaze over and I could feel the drool preparing to decorate my shirt at a moment's notice.
Chanda was the real problem. Three straight weeks of piano masterclasses with minimal sleep meant that she had the tolerance of a small child. We started with small, knowing glances, but within twenty minutes the mocking and unnecessary comments began. When I leaned over for my 10th petty comment of the evening, Chanda did the same and I ended up actually biting her ear. That was the beginning of the end. The giggling fit was underway and eventually we both got up to "use the bathroom" for the next hour.
No one was seemed surprised. An hour into the concert I had already seen about twenty people excuse themselves, counted the ceiling light multiple times and mapped out the rest of my week. My gum was tasteless from excessive boredom chewing and without other toys, the concert was officially over. After re-grouping in a nearby room, Chanda and I decided to spend way too much money to take a taxi home and forget the concert ever happened.
Tonight we are attending another concert at the festival. Regardless of how horrible it could be, there is always a chance this will be the best concert of the year, right?! Maybe I will bring my doodle pad with me, just in case.