Smile Politely

So maybe we are still in Kansas

I’ve never really took to that whole “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all” point of view. I’m much more of a “If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, sit right here by me.” I’d sort of mistakenly assumed that this was said by Dorothy Parker, but it turns out it was actually said by Alice Roosevelt Longworth, who was the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt. Either way, she seemed like a fun broad.

Back to the topic at hand, I sort of hate to be a pain in the ass and spend an entire column bitching about something, but you know as soon as someone says something like that they are about to begin bitching. So, um, I’m gonna bitch a little bit about the Kansas show last weekend at the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival. Let’s get it on.


Fine, this really has nothing to do with the show itself but we, as is mandatory for people like us, began pre-partying for the 9:15 show around 7:00. Plenty of time to get a buzz that would make Kansas seem better but not quite enough time begin to despise the concept of the whole evening.

After the first beer, I got into a ping-pong game with my buddy’s kid. He was pretty good and I am pretty bad, but he’s a kid and I’m an adult who has had a beer so it was actually pretty even. I won. That’s not bragging, so much as a confession. Part of me sort of wanted to let him win because it would be fun for him and I’m pretty miserable either way, but I just couldn’t do it. Was I helping to build character or just being a dick? I’m betting it was a little bit of both.


We began the short walk to the show, sort of giddy, a little scared, and very confident, just like the US when they invaded Grenada that time. Um, anyways, we were not early by a long shot. When we got about a block away we could hear the band beginning the first song. It wasn’t especially recognizable, but I could definitely make out a fiddle, which made me a little nervous.

By this time, we could see that the crowd was, um, let’s go with monstrous. People were freaking everywhere and the throng spilled out on all sides of the main parking lot where the show was happening. A few from our group made a brief and fruitless attempt to pierce the human blockade and get to a point where we could actually see the band in some way, but that shit wasn’t playing at all. It appeared that several folks right in the middle had built a Hooverville out of fucking lawn chairs, while another group had formed a Berlin Wall like obstruction from the middle of the stage all the way to the back.

Besides the huddled masses yearning to hear rock, we couldn’t help but notice that it seemed weird to have a loud assed rock band face a building that was not all that far away. My friend, who is a sound guy, smart-assedly pointed out that it was probably because they wanted “to have as much phase cancellation as possible.” I laughed really hard at this even though I’m not sure I understood it completely.

Either way, I’ll just throw this out. It’s sort of a street fair and you have lots of streets in Urbana and streets are usually long and it might make it possible for a better view, or a view at all, if you maybe moved the main stage somewhere else. Yeah, I’m sure it was more crowded than expected, but I’m just saying.

At this point we stayed put because Kansas was playing “Point of Know Return.” In the lyrics, they say, “how long to the point of know return.” I know this is nit picky but it seems like it should maybe be, “how far to the point of know return.” I mean, they seem like a band that would be into maps and this just seems better to me.


We walked around the back of the stage to the other side to see if the view was better there. It totally was.

I said it was better, not great. We decided to get some beers, but of course, we had to get tickets first. Why in the world don’t we use this system for everything in our lives? Buying a ticket in order to buy something else is fucking brilliant and not a pain in the ass at all, as standing in two lines totally beats the shit out of standing in one line. Geez Louise, the concept of money has been around for a long time because it works, not because no one ever thought of using freaking tickets.

Of course, with more beer comes more urination and that was no walk in the park either. “What do we got? About 6,000 people? Great, five port-a-pottys a side should be plenty.”

As I waited in line for half the show, I called this number several times to let them know they needed to send over some more shitters. I kept getting the answering machine though. I did meet a lot of interesting people standing in line though…a lot of drunk, interesting people that I thought were going to pee on me.

I exited the plastic pee chamber just as the band began playing “Carry On My Wayward Son” and then the show was over. We were all sort of smiling. We just didn’t really know why.


I feel sort of bad bitching this much because I honestly did have a really good time, but I have to imagine that was in spite of, and not because of, the show. I think this may just not be my sort of venue, but still, it sort of makes me wonder why I try to do things sometimes. We regrouped and made our way to the Rail where we played a few Kansas songs on the jukebox and that seemed much more user-friendly to me. Still, I sort of can’t wait until next year

Buona sera, senorina, kiss me good night.

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