My love and I were in the bookstore and leafed through Ray Davies’s book Americana: The Kinks, The Riff, The Road: The Story, and ran across a delightful little point. Apparently, in the mid-70s, when The Kinks had gotten really into doing complex stage shows performing their concept albums about the shifting mores and quiet existential despair of the British middle classes, Ray Davies would routinely choose to go to parties afterwards. But he didn’t want to be recognized and hassled throughout the parties, and I am sympathetic to this. I wouldn’t go to parties either if people kept asking me to sing “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”, though neither would they if they ever heard me singing. So for a while there he would go unrecognized at after-show parties by wearing the mask he’d been wearing during the show.
I’m delighted to learn that during his most energetic, hard-rocking, hard-partying days at the touring peak of his career, Ray Davies was apparently also a seven-year-old boy sneaking into the cinemas wearing a long trenchcoat and sitting on Dave Davies’s shoulders. Of course, based on the book, the costume apparently worked and he didn’t get people saying they recognized him, possibly because none of the partygoers wanted to be punched by Ray Davies. I’m also sympathetic to this. One of my goals in life is to get through it without being punched by Ray Davies, and that’s going pretty well so far; how about you?
I saw a billboard promoting a Village People “Concert Event And Costume Contest”. I was surprised to learn there were Village People concerts that didn’t include costuming for the audience. I would have thought costuming was an important part of the Village People concert-going experience, along with counting down the minutes until they sing “Y.M.C.A.” and “Sweet Caroline” (because somebody thought, well, they always play that at wedding receptions too) and “In The Navy” and “Pretty Sure There’s Another One And It’s Probably Not `We Are The Champions’, Right?”.
But then I got caught up on it being billed as a “concert event”. I know what a concert is, but “concert event”? That seems to add exactly enough qualification that I don’t know what it is anymore. Is it just people gathering around doing the sorts of things they might do at a concert, without necessarily committing to the idea there’ll be a concert per se, just the kinds of activities and events that make someone think there’s a concert there? Is it possible we’ll see all the activity of a Village People concert minus people being up on stage singing, and if so, is it going to result in people dressed as construction workers in the stands strumming a guitar and trying to remember all 42,650 words to `Bohemian Rhapsody’?
Maybe what makes it a “concert event” is all these people getting together to do the stuff that you’d see at a concert, and this makes the concert happen, whether the Village People are part of it or not? Come to think of it, do I even know whether the Village People are still performing? Am I going to have to go to the concert event to find out, and if I do, what should I wear? And overall, should I ever read a billboard again, ever?