Any lazy motherfucker can go to a gig and proceed to describe what the band sounded like. The New York Times’ Kelefa Sanneh, is far more informative, telling us what we really need to know. His review of Sunday’s Deerhoof/Beruit show at McCarron Pool, for instance.
The pool™s official capacity is 5,500, which meant an almost comically large audience for a couple of cultish bands. McCarren Pool is a big, shallow, crumbling rectangle, and the familiar Williamsburg sights ” stubbly chins, flip-flopped feet, retro sunglasses ” seemed to stretch toward the horizon.
There’s a lot more to thoughtful pop criticism than discussing musical content, so I can fully appreciate that Sanneh felt the need to “set the scene” as it where, as well as discuss the circumstances surrounding a big turnout for “cultish” bands (ie., the show was free).
That said, I do think there oughta be some consistency over at the Gray Lady. Charles Isherwood’s effusive review of Patti LuPone’s performance in “Gypsy” has nary a mention of what ticketholders were wearing. The paper’s critique of Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center” seemed balanced enough, but I cannot help but wonder how the cinema patrons were dressed.
Likewise, while Sanneh takes great pains to point out that the cultish Deerhoof might’ve only played to a few hundred had they charged, say, $20 admission, why doesn’t the same logic extend to the Times’ coverage of other artistic endeavors. Sure, “Talladega Nights : The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby” is no. 1 at the box office, but why isn’t anyone at the Times willing to point out such status couldn’t have been attained if the tickets were free?