Steely Dan at the Beacon

beacon.jpgMonday night I went to the Beacon to catch Steely Dan and I have to say it was one of the more fun concerts I’ve been too recently. The ages of the audience members ranged from probably 70 all the way down to possibly 12, and SD played a nice mix of older stuff and more recent stuff, plus they messed around with the arrangement a bit which is always nice since you get to hear tunes in a slightly different way. I’m not sure what it is, but I love the Beacon. There’s something a little magical when more than 2,000 people collectively answer the question, “Is there gas in the car?”

The Beacon is an old-style theater from the 1920’s that was built to be a vaudeville and movie theater by the same designer as the much larger Radio City Music Hall. One of the great things about the Beacon is it’s intimacy, even though it holds more than 2,500 people. Even the last row of the balcony affords a view of the performers that are enjoyed by only a lucky few at larger venues. In addition, the Beacon has excellent acoustics because it’s large enough for the different frequencies to dissipate and not crash into each other, but small enough that the theater does a good job of reverberating those sounds without making them echo.

One of the best features the Beacon has is it’s ability to make New Yorkers “take a time-out” from being New Yorkers and come together for the enjoyment of a common pleasure. Unless someone is being a real ass — that definition fluctuates based on the performer everyone is there to see — people in a concert have a higher threshold than those same people probably do when walking around outside. Case in point…about two-thirds of the way through the performance some dude, who was really enjoying the music, stood up and started dancing wildly — limbs flailing, arms akimbo — in front of his seat, but he managed to do it without hitting those next to or in front of him. With the lights in the mezzanine off, and the stage lights on, he was silhouetted and looked like a bad iPod commercial, except that he was about two seconds behind the music (my date mentioned that he was probably responsible for the strong smell of a controlled substance that permeated the area earlier in the evening). Yet those people who were seated behind him did nothing when he blocked their view of the stage except to tip their heads to the side to try and peer around his gyrations. Had it been on the sidewalk during rush hour, I’m sure there would have been a few choice words exchanged, but in that setting, everyone was relaxed enough to let it slide as long as no physical contact was made.

Yes, it may have more to do with the fact that everyone is going to see a performer that everyone is interested in, but I also think that the intimacy of the Beacon makes it more difficult to get angry with your fellow show-goers. Or maybe it’s just the nice padded seats?

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