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Old Crowd, No Crowd

Tree falls, a few people hear it

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One of the great dichotomies in my life is the subject of movies. Despite what some of my friends might think, I love them dearly, and think they're a great artform. Why I don't go see a lot of movies is another question entirely. Simply put, I'm an elitist. Unless I'm going to see, say, Spider-Man, I'm there to be taken by the filmmaker's artistic vision, and to lose myself in the performances of the actors. Come to think of it, I think the main reason I don't like to go see movies in theaters is that I simply don't like a whole lot of people all that much. Most of them are annoying, and I don't let the fact that I don't know them bother my painting them with broad strokes. But upon hearing that Spirit Square was screening award-nominated films as part of a new series, I trudged up College Street last Monday to check out the murder mystery Gosford Park. Another motivating factor, outside of the fact that it was just a block from my apartment, was the entry fee, a paltry five bucks. Even better yet, popcorn, drinks and candy were an affordable dollar each instead of the usual hundred bucks for stale concession fare. And best yet, I thought, was the fact that almost everyone in attendance was older than me. Much older than me. It's a mystery set in England near the turn of the last century, for crying out loud. I first sat beside a black couple taking in the movie. A large column was blocking my view, though, so I soon moved. As I shimmied up a row, one of the ushers asked to see the man's ticket. I felt sort of bad, as I think they were the only black couple in the place, and besides, who the hell would sneak into a damn five-dollar movie? The usher soon apologized, and all was again well. Until the man beside me started chortling. Incessantly. Whenever there was a pause in the dialogue, this man, conditioned no doubt by TV sitcoms, figured he had to laugh. After the movie (a solid three stars, I'd say), I had to laugh. The woman sitting beside the man gestured her arms about her and exclaimed "You have so many outlets for the arts in Charlotte -- it's amazing!" Now that's a mystery.Ah, Friday night. Time for music, preferably live, and preferably local. As such, I was excited to see a local bill featuring two of the best groups the city has to offer, The Flyweb and The Goldenrods. Arriving at the stately Visulite Theatre about 10pm, though, I seemed to be the only excited person, as a dozen or so people milled around, not counting the numerous band members themselves. I convinced myself that even if the crowd was small, the folks who made the trek over to Elizabeth Avenue would be there to see the music, as opposed to socializing and showing off their latest $90 messed-up do. For once, I was right. Folks hushed as The Goldenrods hit the stage, partly out of respect and partly to be able to hear the singer, Benji Hughes. Hughes, seated at the front of the stage in aviator sunglasses, held a Heineken bottle in his left hand and the microphone in his right. I waited patiently for the moment when Hughes would bring the bottle to his lips by accident when it came time to sing but, alas, it never happened, so I sang into my bottle instead. Later, as The Flyweb came on, I turned my attention to what crowd was there. Hey, there's Hope Nicholls and her adorable baby girl, dancing in the moat in front of the stage. Hey, there's members of other local bands, not socializing, instead quietly sipping their beers and waiting to see a great local band who hadn't played in awhile. And there's Hughes and Justin Faircloth from the "Rods, joining the band on stage to sing harmonies on a couple of old favorites. There's the long-since-eulogized soul of Charlotte music, and like a tree falling in the forest, it exists whether anyone is there to hear it or not.

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