Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Colour Blind Concert

We went to the Weird Al Yankovic concert in Coquitlam this past weekend, and while the show itself was a blast, something was definitely wrong with the audience.

Oh sure, everyone in the house was into Al’s schtick – we all waved our cellphones in the air during the cellphone song, and everyone joined together to help him belt out “Yoda” – but there was something significant missing from the crowd.

That something was colour – colourful Hawaiian shirts, to be precise.

Counting myself and my wife, there were perhaps two dozen – no more – of us in the crowd garbed in Hawaiian shirts of varying degrees of tackiness and loud colour. Traditionally, this attire is a must for any Weird Al concert. But not anymore. 24 of us, in a crowd of a couple of hundred packed into the Red Robinson Show Theatre. What happened?

Time was, the Hawaiian shirt, while not mandatory, made up the bulk of what the audience was wearing at one of Al’s shows. I can remember going to see him at the Orpheum in Winnipeg, back in the 90’s when I was at the University of Manitoba, and nearly everyone there was sporting something with too-loud colours and flower and fish and hula patterns. Heck, there was one guy sitting a couple of rows in front of me who’d gone to the trouble of having his yarmulke made from the same bright fabric as his shirt. Now that’s a fan! No so this time around. Just a small group of us die-hards.

It’s not even like being a fan demanded something truly bizarre like wolfing down a twinkie dog with spray-on cheese-like product (I had a buddy who actually did that after watching “UHF” – not something I’d care to do). If that was the case, I could understand concert-goers, saying “Dude, that’s a little extreme.” But it’s not. No, the wearing of the Hawaiian shirt is just a way of sharing the utterly shameless indulgence in daring to be stupid and have fun in being a Weird Al fan amidst other fans. Part of the fun was trying to pick out the wackiest shirt pattern near you in the crowd.

Sure, Al himself isn’t as heavy into the Hawaiian shirts when he’s on-stage as he used to be, but he still wears a couple in the act. Shouldn’t that make it okay for the audience to keep with its traditions?

And yet, it was by and large a pretty drab audience that assembled Saturday night. When did fandom get so grey?


Anonymous said...

Hello from Illinois! My boss, Byron Lee from ACB radio in Springfield, IL wore his Hawaiian shirt but I noticed that no one else wore one from our group. There were a few sprinkled out there in the crowd of about 8,000, but you could tell the "hard core" fans from the rest. I didn't wear one because I thought we were supposed to wear station shirts.(That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!)We all did, however, sing all the songs and stand for the Yoda chant and follow along as best we could. He keeps changing that dang chant! I hope you had a great time at the concert because e sure did!

Unknown said...

Dude, why the weak showing of hawaiian shirts? That truly is disappointing. Weird Al I'm sure is as disappointed as we are.

Robin Shantz said...

Right back at ya, Illinois! Good to hear from a fellow broadcaster, sbscace! (Okay, fine, I'm a former broadcaster, but still, part of the club).

Glad to hear your boss sported a Hawaiian shirt at the concert. They tend to crop up a lot in radio. There were several afficianados back when I worked at CKNW in Vancouver. The best was probably one of our engineers who wore a different Hawaiian shirt every day.

Your official excuse is noted and accepted! I know how the staff are expected to fly the station flag, especially when your station is sponsoring the event.

Nice to hear you folks had a blast at the concert. We had a great time at the one up here too - I think we nearly fell out of our seats laughing when Al came slinking up the aisles in a red leisure suit crooning "Wanna B Ur Lver" draping himself across some of the ladies in the audience. The man's a master entertainer!

Robin Shantz said...

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the link to Hilo Hattie's! My wife and I were just talking about that place the other day. Very nice to see they do online orders, especially since my collection could use another couple of shirts. Now I know what to put on my Christmas list this year!

As for Al being disappointed at the lack of Hawaiian shirts... sadly with sbscace's story from Illinois, it seems a less-than-colourfully-atired crowd is probably common in many cities across the continent. I suspect Al must be getting used to it.

That being said, I also guess he wasn't too disappointed though, since most of the crowd was wearing his various concert T-shirts - everything from the "Intel" shirts, to the "Al's your best friend" shirts, to the "White and Nerdy" shirts (I bought one of those, since, well, it's true). The revenue from those sales probably keeps his own Hawaiian shirt collection up to date.