Sunday, October 11, 2009
The Height of Folly
As a complete nitwit mentioned in his otherwise worthless review of the event, only about 350 people attended Eldar's concert Saturday at the Folly Theater. Empty seats outnumbered occupied chairs by a ratio of almost two to one.
And that sad number doesn't tell the whole story. Eldar, 22, might have been the youngest person in the building. Less than fifty audience members were under the age of thirty. And it's people without gray hair, in theory, who would have been most receptive to Eldar's sound. The pianist, bassist Armando Gola and drummer Ludwig Afonso are spiritual, if not musical, brethren of progressive acts like Radiohead and Tortoise.
Where were the young jazz fans? Do they even exist?
The "it's-the-bad-economy" explanation doesn't fly with me. Sure, things are tough all over but last week alone I attended two sold-out rock concerts in Kansas City, one at the Uptown Theater (1,800 capacity) and the other at Crossroads (3,000 capacity). Tickets for those general admission events were $30, the same as the most expensive ticket to Eldar's show at the gorgeous Folly Theater.
It doesn't help that neither Eldar nor the Folly employ social media and both have a tired web presence. Intentionally neglecting the tools with which today's most active music fans consume music is foolhardy.
Still, it's the music that matters, and the inaugural performance of the Folly's new jazz season offered many great moments. The next event, Edward Simon and Gretchen Parlato, also holds tremendous artistic promise. (Here's my August 17 survey of the Folly's current season.)
But if a hometown hero sells a mere 350 tickets, how will Venezuelan-born Simon and up-and-coming vocalist Parlato fare on Halloween? October 31 might be a very frightful evening for the Kansas City jazz scene.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)