'We're just taking notes for work'
I make a living talking to people. If I don't talk to people, I don't get tips or quotes for stories.
When I review concerts, however, I don't have to talk to anybody. I just need to take notes.
But when I'm at a concert and people see me whip out my notepad and start jotting things down, they want to know what I'm up to. It's inevitable. Someone -- or multiple someones -- at each show point to my notepad and ask me what I'm doing.
I used to tell them the truth. "I'm reviewing the show," I'd say. They'd ask who I work for, and I'd tell them.
A funny thing happens when you tell someone that. They suddenly get the urge to tell you what they thing of the show. It all depends on how much they've been drinking (I don't drink alcohol when I'm reviewing concerts) ...
"Brendan Flowers (pictured, top) is the Bono of your generation," he said. "You can write that down."
This doesn't just happen to me. It happens to all music critics, at some point or another. I was standing next to J. Freedom DuLac, the Washington Post's former music critic, at Britney Spears' Washington show a couple years ago, when a pack of teenage girls asked him why he was typing so furiously on his BlackBerry. He told them the truth.
They proceeded to pester him about how totally awesome Spears (pictured, bottom) was, and how every song was better than the last, etc. Hee hee.
Now, I have started fudging it a bit.
When I saw the Black Eyed Peas at Verizon Center last week, I sat near Chris Richards, the Post's new music critic (they like to put us geeks in a row). A row of feisty moms sat in front of us. They took a limo to the show, and had been drinking.
"Don't puke in the limo," one of them said to another one. Good advice.
Then they spotted us, taking notes.
"What are you doing?," one of them asked. "Are you taking notes for school?"
We stared blankly at them for a couple seconds -- just enough to make it awkward. I wasn't about to give us away. Richards had the best response.
"We're just taking notes for work," he said.
The moms quickly lost interest, and we went back to our notes. From now on, that's what I'm telling people. I'm just taking notes for work. Nice.
See you at tonight's Muse show. Guess what I'll be doing?
Also, you really ought to check out the Post's music blog, Click Track. Lots of cool stuff there.