Sunday, March 04, 2012

When Free Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be

Working on the Stage

My wife and I tried to do something wild and crazy this evening. We attended a local radio station's free downtown concert. WMMO has a downtown concert series they put on in front of the new Amway center, where they invite well-known acts to perform before a crowd of (hopefully) appreciative locals, all of it for free. Free as long as you ignore the $10 parking and don't buy any of the overpriced food and beer. Tonight's free act was  Huey Lewis and The News. My wife's a big fan, so I figured why not. It was (nearly) free, and it would be nice to get out and mingle with the downtown crowd.

Ladders and Roadies

The concert was allegedly to start at 4pm, so we made sure to get there at 3 to find a decent spot to sit. And we did, getting pretty close to the closed-off section in front of the stage. While we were there we entertained watching the road crew put the finishing touches on the stage while being serenaded with one sound check after another. "Check check one two" and "Check check one two yep yep yep" and "hey hey one two" kept coming out of the sound system, over and over and over again. Somebody at the station may have gotten a clue about how bad it all sounded because they started to play something from the station while the crew continued to talk over the music. By the time 5pm came we were getting pretty restless, and so was the crowd around us.

When it finally started we were aurally assaulted by a local O-town band who's name I couldn't pick out because of the distorted audio system the road crew had spent so much time checking. After they started to play I didn't want to know who they were. They continuously mutilated one cover after another, and when they hit the Stone's Honky Tonk Woman I was ready to rush the stage, yank the guitar out of the hands of the guy attempting to play bass, and beat them all to a lifeless bloody pulp before God, the crowd, and the Orlando Police Department. I mean, where did those guys get their moves from, playing Guitar Hero in front of their Wii?

Fixing Food

In between the sets from the two-hour opening Band from Hell, I walked around a bit to try and grab some local color shots. That is until I happened upon one of the concert sponsors, the local porno shop Premier Adult Factory Outlet. I mean we've got factory outlets for damn near everything here in O-town, including pornography. I was so pissed at the poor quality of the concert I shot mostly limp dispirited crap, in keeping with the theme of the concert.

A lot of folks showed up for this, and seemed to enjoy it more than we did. But when the clock hit 6:15, we both decided we'd had enough. I'd already heard that Huey wasn't slated to start until around 7pm. A cold front had passed through Orlando 12 hours before, leaving cold and windy weather behind. We'd gone from the 80's the day before to the mid 50's, and it was getting colder as it got darker.

A Camera Guy

The one bright spot of the evening occurred as we attempted to leave. As we got up to gather our stuff, a guy in the audience next to us volunteered to pick up my wife's wheelchair, lift it over his head, and carry it outside of the middle of the now heavy crowd that had gathered around us. That sudden random act of kindness was wonderful, and both my wife and I thanked him profusely, with me shaking his hand. I didn't get his name, but if he ever reads this post and recognizes the moment I want to say "Thank you" yet again.

After getting back to the car parked under I-4, the wife and I drove back to our neck of the woods, stopping off by Greens & Grille next to the Mall at Millenia for a nice healthy and affordable salad.

Later in the evening I checked to see if anybody'd posted any photos from the concert. After looking at what was posted all I can say is the photographer needs a few lessons, at least in post processing. The official photos from the concert were truly bad. Even I could have done better than what was posted. But I doubt that'll ever happen because after tonight we don't ever intend to go back to another WMMO downtown concert.

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