In April of 2020, as the world was shutting down, we all feared live music would be one of the first casualties of the pandemic. During those early months of the pandemic, if you would have asked me what band I would see first after a lockdown, I might make a list of 100+ bands and artists. You might see metal bands like Every Time I Die, Gojira, and High on Fire. You also would see plenty of singer/songwriters like Ryan Bingham, Jason Isbell, Tyler Childers, and Sturgill Simpson. You know who you wouldn’t see? Alanis Morissette.
Although we have yet to return to “normal,” whatever that means anymore, live music has started to transition from death to a crawl. In 2020, I did not expect that my personal live music revival to start with Alanis Morissette. As if that name needed any 90s reinforcement, the Shirley Manson-fronted Garbage opened for Alanis. On Friday August 13, 2021, they played at Dos Equis Pavilion, the venue formerly known as Smirnoff Music Center, which is the venue formerly known as Coca-Cola Starplex. As you will see, this will turn into a review of the venue. Spoiler alert – I hate the venue.
We didn’t see Garbage, at all. The show started at 7pm, and we weren’t about to get there at 7 and sit in our General Admission lawn seats under 100 degrees. I don’t care if they play “Stupid Girl” 12 times and get off stage, I am not baking in the sun for Garbage. We got there about 20 minutes before Alanis Morissette jumped on stage – perfect timing, just as the sun went down.
This was the second show of her Jagged Little Pill 25th anniversary tour. The tour was originally scheduled for the summer of 2020, but you know, COVID and stuff. Here is the skinny: she played about 18 songs, and I am pretty sure she belted out every song from one of the most iconic albums of the 90s.
Opener – Track 1 from Jagged Little Pill (do you like how lazy I am? In the time it takes me to write how lazy I am, I could be looking up the name of this song, but intentionally choose not to).
The second song was “Hand in My Pocket” and she played an out-of-tune harmonica. She picked herself up pretty well, but 98% of the people in the crowd didn’t notice, so no big deal. Start watching at 1:30 here and you will hear it.
After that, I caught about every 4 songs because I was constantly going back to the beer stands.
Closer – the “Thank you India” song, which I think is just called “Thank You.”
The drummer, just as I suspected, played behind one of those plastic walls. I get it, but I don’t. Why doesn’t everyone play with a plastic wall around the drums? Does it suppress the sound on-stage? Again, why don’t all bands use it? I always feel so disconnected from the music, as weird as it sounds, when the drummer seems isolated from everyone else. Why don’t you just hide the drummer backstage somewhere, like it’s a Taylor Swift show. You know, when her entire band is hidden behind some kind of huge stage barrier. Then, at the end they come out and play a few songs, and everyone sees the 50 year-olds dressed like 22 year-olds.
Another observation: Alanis Morissette pretty much just walks back and forth on stage, for entire songs. The instrument-less singer is always a curious thing to see. How do they interact with the audience? How do they dance around stage? In general, how do you fill the void left by not having an instrument? For Alanis, this means walking back and forth across the stage, incessantly, from one end to the other. Occasionally, she raises the mic with one hand straight in the air, a clear sign for the crowd to yell, which is different from a mic pointed at the crowd. A mic pointed at the crowd means sing along. A mic lifted straight in the air, when it has been juxtaposed with mic pointed towards the audience, means “I don’t know what else to do so I am raising the mic, knowing you will scream.”
But here is my problem with the show – the venue!
I hate Dos Equis Pavilion, for the following reasons:
(1) It’s far. I live in Fort Worth and it is “I-45 Dallas,” which seems like another state.
(2) The lawn is terrible. If I am going to a concert, I want a concert experience. This means that it should be a challenge to have a conversation during the music. In the lawn, you can talk at normal levels. I have attended this venue 5 times in my life. First time was Stone Temple Pilots in the 90s. I sat in the covered seating part, and I loved it, but that was in large part because that was my first concert ever, and I loved STP. The other times were all in the lawn. It is just a bad concert experience.
(3) You can’t see a fucking thing. They have a couple monitors for us common-folk in the grass to look at, but it feels like I am watching Alanis Morissette on my parents 18″ knob-turning TV in 1988.
Dos Equis Pavilion has done one thing right. Once you meander your way from a crowded lawn to the main entrance area, they have vastly improved access to beer, wine, and cocktails. Knowing that it will take me 10 minutes to find my group in the lawn, and knowing that I will not want to get up again for a while, they give you 25oz beer cans, which I liked as well. Otherwise, I would be walking around with a loose 12-pack in all my pockets, in my belt, and wherever else I can fit 12oz beer cans.
If you can afford it, I would highly recommend getting a seat in the covered part. I may be a music/concert snob, but my experience on the lawn, every time, is awful. Otherwise, you now have been given the tools for expectation management when venturing to Dos Equis. Prepare to be disappointed if you have to sit in the lawn.
Lastly, I was informed that some (maybe all) of “You Oughta Know” is about Dave “Cut it out” Coulier. I really hope that it is true. Perhaps the most overlooked 90s power couple ever. Well, I think Daniel Johns of Silverchair and Natalie Imbruglia are (or were) up there as well. I’m torn on that one.