When I promise "musical obsession," I deliver: My partner Don and I are going to San Francisco for Gay Pride next weekend, and thanks to SFMPB.com, a very helpful guide to Brazilian music in the Bay Area, I learned that João Gilberto himself is playing the Masonic Auditorium on Friday, June 25. Hooray! This would be exciting enough in itself, but I've spent the last several weeks reading Ruy Castro's history of Bossa Nova and getting an extraordinarily intimate portrait of the artist as a young (eccentric, stoned, slacker) man, so the chance to see him as an old (eccentric, not so stoned) man seemed too fortuitous to pass up. Tickets are not cheap, but not as expensive as I would have expected given the stature of the performer and the size of the city. Well, ours are a tad pricey: by the time I found out about the show, there were no seats left except in the middle-to-upper price range. (I'm embarrassed to say how much that is, but I recently shelled out almost as much for nosebleed seats for -- brace yourself, my hipster reader -- Bette Midler. She's somebody else I should write about here sometime ... but not now. Anyway, I confess it gets easier to pay the big bucks after you've broken your own personal limit the first time.)
Things might not have been so bad had I jumped at the opportunity the minute I saw it, but sticker shock held me back. Don will be entering into this thing with no knowledge whatsoever of the guy, and he's not exactly joining me in this thrill ride through Brazilian culture, so I was skeptical. (I didn't even think of dragging him to see Brian Wilson a few summers back; I'm sure he would have preferred to spend the time having oral surgery.) But it turns out he's open to the experience--and hey, we'll be on vacation, which is all about spending money, right? (His words, not mine.) Meanwhile, I decided to search for a few reviews of recent Gilberto shows to get an idea of what we might be getting into: transcendence, or a guy coasting on his 50-year-old reputation? I found enough evidence of a still-fresh performer to take the plunge. (I also came across a warning about -- my analogy here -- Nina Simone or Van Morrison-level unpredictability/volatility, but that only served to excite me further; the weirdest concert I ever attended was an Al Green show over a decade ago, and while the oddness was underwhelming at the time, it has provided me with great memories and a great story ever since.)
Alas, when I returned 24 hours later to the website where I'd planned to place my order, there were suddenly no tickets at all available. Damn! He who hesitates... Undaunted, I tried another online option, where I did find a pair of tickets -- still in that pricey mid-range, this time labelled something like "partially obstructed; extreme rear view." (Hey, I've seen that porn tape...) By this point, though, I'd completely talked myself into the whole experience, potential fiasco or no. So I clicked the appropriate buttons, fed those credit card numbers into the machine, and one week from tonight I'll be watching a living legend's ass for two hours.
I promise a complete report after the fact. Stay tuned.