Monday, May 05, 2014

Watching Your Watch Him

That's the name of one Eric Hutchinson's big hits: "Watching You Watch Him." It's also how I spent a great deal of time as I stood on the floor of San Francisco's famous Fillmore. I did gaze adoringly at my wife, as I do from time to time, but mostly I was watching the fans of Eric Hutchinson watch him.
I was given this gift of slight detachment because I won tickets to see the guy. I was briefly aware of some of his music, but I could not be categorized as an Eric Hutchinson Superfan. But I did have a very delicious opportunity to observe the Northern California Hutchead in their native habitat. Many of them were recognizable by their omnipresent smartphones. These were held aloft at regular intervals in order to take murky, shaky video of the show that they had no doubt eagerly anticipated for months. Now they were in Eric's physical presence and they wanted to be sure to capture the experience for nearly immediate uploading on Al Gore's Internet. This allows the more distant or unlucky Hutcheads to witness in low fidelity all the fun and excitement that their bandwidth would allow.
Don't get me wrong: I danced. I laughed. I sang along. I sang along even though I wasn't privy to the lyrics of Eric's entire catalog, as some around us were. As many around us were. I was just keenly aware of the distance between my wife and I who had gone out on a lark and those who were there on a mission. I enjoyed myself, but not in the same way I would at, say, a Bruce Springsteen show. Hutcheads would be aghast at my over-the-top behavior at an E Street Band concert. I've embarrassed myself, family and friends at those events, so why should I be so judgmental about a crowd of twenty-to-forty-somethings hopping and bopping to their Crocodile's rock?
I suppose it came down to this: I won these tickets for knowing the title of an obscure Nicolas Cage film and having access to a phone at seven fifteen in the morning. I had a couple apples from the tub near the door and a Reuben sandwich at the cafe upstairs before the show. When I went downstairs, we waited just a few minutes and milled with the rest of the throng until the lights went down and Eric hit the stage with his band. I had fun. I will probably buy a few more songs, bringing my Hutchinson Hit Parade to nearly a full album. But I won't be doing what my wife suggested we do as we walked up Fillmore, the street, at the end of the night. Spying a slightly used RV by the curb, she asked me if I wanted to quit my job and follow the band across the country. No, I told her, but I did buy a T-shirt.

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