Music

Bad Oysters: A short, strange evening with Blue Öyster Cult

Blue Öyster Cult ... now
Blue Öyster Cult ... now
Courtesy of artist
Saturday night's much-antipated show with rock veterans Blue Öyster Cult and April Wine brought fans out of the woodwork and into the snow. The wintry weather seemed like it might threaten to cancel the show. But at noon, April Wine was in heavy rotation on the radio and none of the bands, radio station or venue websites had posted anything.

On entering the concert area of the venue that night, large signs were posted stating that due to inclimate weather, April Wine would not be performing. Bummed but already checked into our hotel room, we spoke with a polite box office rep who offered to refund our tickets. We negotiated a comped buffet and held onto the tickets.

Like many attendees, we were really there to see April Wine but we stuck around in hopes that BÖC would pull out all the stops. The lights dimmed, the show started and it took us awhile to find our seats; our tickets read “Row 13,” but apparently the house manager was superstitious and instead called the row “AA.” We wandered between rows 10 and 15 like stoned asshole-idiots. We finally located our seats and prepared to be rocked.

Unfortunately, BÖC’s set started late and proved short, disjointed and underwhelming. They were a four-piece instead of a five-piece; one of the two founding members was stranded in Denver and the drummer appeared to be a fill-in. That wouldn’t have been a big deal—had he known the songs. He played back beats where there shouldn't have been any, and he was clearly winging it most of the time. To his credit, he was a decent drummer who kept a solid beat and had some great fills, but it's tough to fool diehard fans that have Agents of Fortune on both vinyl and cassette.

Blue Öyster Cult ... then
Blue Öyster Cult ... then
Courtesy of artist

There were many Spinal Tap-like moments including a guitar strap malfunction, a three-piece harmonizing train wreck and a meandering wheedle-infested guitar solo that seemed like it would never end. “Don't Fear the Reaper” was introduced with the thoroughly stale “more cowbell” joke—only to be played without any audible cowbell. I'm pretty sure the drummer didn't have one.

At one point it occurred to us that maybe the concert was no fun because we were high and—indeed—we were high, like most of the crowd. But the only person who appeared to be enjoying the show was a younger gentleman about 10 rows back from stage right; he stood the whole time, knew the lyrics better than the band and did some lyrical interpretation with passionate arm gestures. I'm pretty sure he was on ecstasy. For the rest of the crowd, our altered state didn't help matters at all.

April Wine ... now
April Wine ... now
Courtesy of artist

The inebriated older gentleman seated next me repeatedly growled and moaned in dissatisfaction; he left mid-set after yelling, “Too slow! Too boring!” between songs. The guys onstage did their best to pull a show out of thin air with no Wine. But the audience energy for these types of shows is sometimes severely lacking. The crowds are often sedentary and subdued. It's no wonder BÖC phoned it in and cut their set short. They had no energy to feed off of and, frankly, no reason to return to New Mexico or urge April Wine to schedule a make-up show.

I chatted with other concertgoers after the show, and the general consensus was that the show did not live up to our (already managed) expectations. I have yet to find any statements on either band's websites or Facebook and Twitter pages. The only mention on the internet at this point is from a 51-year-old attendee who commented on KRQE News 13’s Facebook page—threatening to throw all his records away and never listen to April Wine’s music again. Without a doubt, the concert should have been rescheduled. But once you've had bad oysters, you won't try them again.