Lessons Learned From a Cheap Trick Concert

ravinia fest

It’s the end of the summer; we try and make it to as many concerts at our local Ravinia Festival during their short season. It’s a completely unique venue, sprawling lawn lot’s of giant trees shading the area, planted in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It was originally built in the 1940’s as the summer home for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The sound is simply amazing for a place so big. This year, we saw 7 concerts, and for our last concert of the season – we planned to see Cheap Trick.

I’m not going to lie, I was burnt-out. My sister and I leave the house at 1:00 to wait in line to be the first in the park to run our butts off to get what we think is the best possible spot on the lawn. It’s like the running of the bulls. And by concert #7 I was wondering if we even wanted to go.

Amazingly, the husbands stepped up. They didn’t want us to blow off the show, and they were willing to wait in line for 3 hours and then sit in our perfect spot for another 3 until the show started. (now don’t get me wrong, we do it up. Wine, cheese, beer, salted caramel chocolates…. you name it, we have it. Books and card games too)

Still, I wasn’t expecting much.

During sound check – the beauty of early arrival, my husband called me and tried to hold the phone up. All I heard was a lot of noise, I was not impressed. Although I am a lover of all things music, I only have a few favorite Cheap Trick songs. And since they haven’t been on my radar, I was not aware of the surprise to come.

Cheap Trick was performing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety.

cheap trick sgt pepper

Actually, our husband’s told us this, but we figured they were full of it. Imagine our surprise when Rick Nielsen came out and announced they would be doing Sgt. Peppers, some Cheap Trick and then more Beatles! Well now they had my attention! And with a full orchestra? That called for a shelving of outside entertainment.

The show was amazing, the talent of the band was still strong, the Chicago Philharmonic was flawless and Gingger Shankar on the double violin was breath-taking!

The magic of this concert brought up these thoughts:

  • I am of a generation that never got to see The Beatles live and never will (duh). (btw I’m 43, so there’s that)
  • It must have been a mind-blowing experience to hear these songs performed live if hearing Cheap Trick perform them was borderline mind-blowing.

The most important thought:

  • No one listens to albums anymore. It occurred to me that ever since the iPod became a regular part of my life in 2002 I haven’t listened to an album from first song to last. (OK maybe a few in the beginning, but certainly not in the last 5 years)

The age of album rock and concept albums is basically dead. Sure you can create one, and you can even hope to have some people care enough to buy it. But really? When you can have the instant gratification of downloading that one song you just love without buying the whole album, what’s your motivation?

And by “providing” this service we are encouraging mediocrity. While once upon a Beatles time, an album was conceptualized from first song to last. Now all you need is a few hits and the rest is “filler”, because really, whose going to buy the whole album anyway? Our children will never understand, or even think about the choices a band made in the order of songs. They will never know what a b-side is. They will never need to buy a whole album just to own their favorite song.

I left the concert feeling energized and frustrated. Frustrated by the fact that as I attempt to raise my son with a deep appreciation of music, I have been going about it all wrong. Energized by the fact that it’s never too late. I never tossed all of those CD’s I uploaded into iTunes. The day after Cheap Trick, I popped in the first disc that’s been in my car’s CD player ever. The Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper’s is in rotation. All my son will hear for the next few weeks in the car is that same album over and over, that’s how we did it (but on a record player in the living room). I am thinking the next CD in rotation will be some Jazz. He already loves the jazz mixes I’ve made, but I can guarantee you that every Jazz album I own was meant to be listened to from beginning to end. I am making a promise to myself to seek out new musicians that are making music for the music and not for the highest number downloaded.

Just to give you an idea of the caliber of musicianship that was part of this amazing concert here is a video of Gingger Shankar playing the double violin. She is an amazing artist and composer. She has played with The Smashing Pumpkins and she wrote the score for The Passion of the Christ, she has done so much more, and continues to be a prolific composer and artist. Go click on that link up there and check her out.



20 thoughts on “Lessons Learned From a Cheap Trick Concert

  1. I think it’s sad that we never listen to albums any more. Even the days of listening to an entire tape in the car because changing it out was an actual conscious choice are so gone. Now, with a button we’re onto the next thing on the ipod. And for people like us, that may mean from going from Bach to The Beatles to Metallica to Melissa Etheridge in mere clicks. I think your plan to listen to the same cd in the car with Isaiah is perfect. And so glad the Cheap Trick concert ended up being almost mind-blowing!

  2. Despite my history of music snobbery on and off line, I never bad mouth nostalgia acts or shows. Ever.

    1) it introduces the music to new listeners and makes new fans

    2) It harbors memories we all deserve to cherish and keep forever

    3) they’re fun, usually

    This sounds cool. I would have enjoyed the second half of the show the most because I like Cheap Trick’s rock songs

  3. know what you mean (about ‘whole albums’… I mentioned that for TMT for someone’s Tumbleweed Connection… every track was where it was, on purpose!)

    Thank god for the ‘Whole Album’ search on ‘the youtube’… seems odd (not so much in context of what you’re saying here), but when you go back to a certain age… ya need the whole thing, start to finish… hell can you even imagine Aqualung any other way?)

    …can’t remember last live.. wait I minute I do!
    Rick Derringer and he did what old rockers should do: a) don’t try to act young 2) show the benefit of the years of experience and make it all look easy and fun… damn good show

    • That was me, with Tumbleweed Connection ๐Ÿ™‚ I totally agree with the whole album thing, it’s exactly my point. Some albums like Abbey Road for instance (to be boring and mention another Beatles album) really need to be played. OH yes! And Journey Infinity! Totally meant to be played beginning to end!

  4. That show had to be freakin’ great. Not a huge Trick fan myself, I think it was from one camping trip where the campsite next to ours played Live at Budokan non-stop the whole weekend. Talk about listening to an album from start to finish. oy.

    These days you have groups of industry people deciding on how to write a hit song. All they want is something catchy and a beat. They don’t need albums, they just need hits. It’s very sad that no one will listen to an album like Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues, or even something like Santana’a Abraxas. Just crap like Katy Perry’s Roar.

    Just shoot me.

  5. Yes, yes, yes! Play music to babies and children. Let it play in their rooms. It gets in their head. No need to purchase that Baby Mozart stuff or kids music. Play your music for them. They will like it. Put it on repeat. Create the familiar. As a parent, you still have some control of the music in the car, in your room. Let it play. Great post.

  6. OH my gosh yes…there is a lost appreciation for buying an entire album…or even just paying legally for one song…I kept a massive collection of CDs that I bought when I grew up. My kid thinks they are steering wheels. Weird.
    My husband has seen Cheap Trick a few times now. Loves them.
    I’m glad that you had a great time!

  7. This had to be a fantasmic concert! Amen to what you said about AOR. Today, artists don’t get the chance to develop their careers and sound over a span of a few albums. You don’t deliver that one hit? See ya later. And for the most part, the generations of listeners after AOR don’t understand how much of the experience is about the placement of tracks – like a good set list. An artist will very carefully plan the musical experience. It’s like going to an art gallery and moving the paintings or photos around. That’s why I love concerts like this one. It’s about the music. A tribute to the greats with a full orchestra – not an overblown music video.

  8. Whoa – epiphany! You’re totally right about the albums! It never occurred to me either! I love it when you write about anything, I love it when you write about music. With your writing and photos you always manage to recreate an atmosphere perfectly and transport me with you to wherever you are. I enjoyed the concert.

  9. You’re right about not listening to whole albums. Of course, I never did anyway, as I’m too ADD to listen to one group for that long. However, there were a few exceptions that someday I may even share…

  10. I have 4 boxes full of cassette tapes that were my pride and joy, and now don’t own anything to play them on. I love live shows. I still own records that belonged to my aunt. You are so right. My oldest daughter loves music but she walks around playing a song, then another from a different group. I have to say, I do too. I do like going on you-tube and viewing the entire track list. I still buy c.d.’s though, just for the purpose of riding in the truck. Still, one push of a button, I can skip the whole thing to that one song I love. I remember having a tape deck in one of my first cars and to try to get to one song was hell. Fast forward, rewind, damn take it out and flip it cause I was so on the wrong side. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Donetta, I so remember those memories too! I just recently ditched all of my cassettes, between vinyl and CD’s I had them all anyway. But it was sad still the same.

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