How do you prioritize? Always an important question to a Reed student, and there are many resources available to us that give us insight into how we can prioritize our academic demands (for many of us over spring break, that insight may have been: DROP EVERYTHING YOU HAVE A THESIS DRAFT DUE IN THREE DAAAAAAAAAYS). What we aren’t given a whole lotta insight on is how we can prioritize our cultural consumption. For that, I’m here to help.
This, of course, stems from a specific situation that I had to deal with. See, on March 29th, there are about four concerts happening in Portland that I would like to go to. How am I to pick just one? This predicament got me thinking about how one would in general make the tough decision between two or three (or, heaven forbid, four) interesting events happening at the same time. For the sake of the specifics of this occurrence, I’ll focus on concerts, but feel free to apply these guidelines to any cultural happening.
Okay, so for reference, here are the concerts that are happening: At the Star Theater: it’s Into It. Over It. with The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, the Sidekicks, and Pinegrove. At Mississippi Studios: we have All Dogs, Mothers, and Haley Heynderickx. At Analog Theater: there’s Citizen, Turnover, Sorority Noise, and Milk Teeth. Finally, at the Know: there’s Sioux Falls, Haybaby, and Deathlist. All pretty great shows! Blame Treefort Fest over in Boise, most of these bands played there over the weekend, so their tours all naturally land in Portland around this time.
Have you seen the band before? My dad has a rule that he sticks to pretty strictly: “Never see a band more than once, because it’ll never be as good as the first time around.” Now, I’m not quite as stringent as my father on this, but he does have a point. Seeing a band multiple times does have the effect of diminishing returns. Of course, if your favorite band ever is coming to town again, chances are you’ll probably want to see them, I understand that. I’ve seen some of my faves several times. But even with bands I really care for, I generally haven’t seen them more than three or four times. I think a more lenient version of this rule would be: prioritize the concert you haven’t seen before. There are certain things to consider, though. If you haven’t seen this band for a while, you may want to see their new material; that’s fair. That’s the situation I’m in; I’ve seen The World is a Beautiful Place before, but that was a couple years ago, before their latest album Harmlessness came out, so their live set would be pretty novel to me. Ergo, I can’t eliminate them quite yet.
Who has the best top-to-bottom roster? I’ve never been one to diss the openers. When considering which concert to go to, consider not just the band you want to see but the bands that are playing with them. People like to complain about how bad opening bands can be, but I generally find that opening bands can actually surprise you. Yeah, yeah, you can show up for the set you want and avoid the rest, but where’s the fun in that? Okay, so this eliminates one of my choices. The Analog Theater show actually has only one band I care about (Sorority Noise, and they are actually third listed!), and the others I couldn’t care less about. The others here are pretty stacked. The World is a Beautiful Place show has Pinegrove, which is a pretty exciting new band that I’d like to see, as well as The Sidekicks, who are good and I’ve never seen, and Into It. Over It. . .who I could honestly give or take. The Sioux Falls show has Haybaby, who lowkey made the best Pixies album of this millennium, and I would love to see that. And although I care more about All Dogs, them playing a show with Mothers only sweetens the deal; I haven’t completely latched on to the Mothers album but would be intrigued to see it played live.
Who are you likely to have a chance to see again soon? Okay, so there’s another show this night that I didn’t mention: Iggy Pop at the Keller Auditorium. I’m as big of a fan of Iggy as any other guy, but I’m not at the stage of my life where I’m gonna shell out 50+ bucks to see him live with Josh Homme (yawn). If I was really, really a fanboy for the Stooge man, this show would be a must-attend; he might not ever tour again (how he survived both Lou and David is beyond me). Put your priorities in the act that won’t play here as often, perhaps because they are from overseas, just don’t tour that often, are playing a unique set in some way, or you just have a feeling might not be around much longer. As such, if you have conflicting events you would like to attend, perhaps put the local band on the backburner. I know it’s important to support your local scene, duh, but you can also support it on a night when you are bored and nothing else is going on. Sorry to say, but that means that Sioux Falls is getting eliminated. Their album is great everyone! Listen to it! Pay them money!
On a related note, who have you not financially supported? This kinda goes hand in hand with my first point, but it remains worth saying: it is important to chip in to the music scene, and when doing so, spread the wealth. I’ve seen The World Is a Beautiful Place, I’ve bought their shirt, I’ve gotten their album. I have not, however, given any money to either Mothers or All Dogs, so I think I should go with them (Plus, it’s important to support bands that aren’t just a bunch of dudes [not that TWIABP is]). Plus, both All Dogs and Mothers are huge up-and-comers in the indie scene, coming off tremendous runs at SXSW, so their moment just seems right.
Hopefully these tips have helped cut through the haze of the sweaty concert floor and will help you resolve some tough decisions in your concert-going lives.