Bob Dylan Plays Concert for One Insanely Lucky Superfan
November 25, 2014 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Ongoing Swedish film series Experiment Ensam (Experiment Alone) films people experiencing things completely alone that are usually reserved for large crowds. Past films focused on lone people at comedy clubs or karaoke bars. The filmmakers thought a lot bigger for this one and made arrangements with Bob Dylan and his touring band to perform a private show for 41-year-old Bob Dylan superfan Fredrik Wikingsson at Philadelphia's Academy of Music.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (41 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
....and he still couldn't get a front row seat
posted by thelonius at 6:09 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think I would be too self-conscious to enjoy myself. For me, a huge part of experiencing a live music performance is the energy from the audience. I'm glad this guy enjoyed himself.
posted by rtha at 6:27 PM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


Absolutely on the superfan aspect, but the idea was they would get someone to experience individually what is normally done in a group. I'm just saying, my motto has always been "Anyone live," but that's because no matter what I have people there to look at and the group to view. In this case I'd be hard pressed to make it.

I wasn't trying to piss on the idea of a solo Dylan concert so much as to point out that this wouldn't be something I could do by myself.

Let Leonard Cohen or David Eugene Edwards sing to me all alone and I'd be too sore from smiling as well.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:27 PM on November 25, 2014


I was surprised to learn recently that LaSalle University in Philadelphia has an academic collection called the Life & Work of Bob Dylan Collection.
posted by Rob Rockets at 6:29 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I couldn't do the Dylan thing. Make it Tom Waits, though, and I'll gladly fight whoever necessary to prove I'm the superfan. I can't even fathom what a single-audience-member Waits show would be like.
posted by komara at 6:47 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well since all y'all aren't interested... sign me up!

[yo! quonsar! let's go!!!]
posted by stinkfoot at 6:50 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Happy - Ongoing Swedish film series Experiment Ensam (Experiment Alone) films people experiencing things completely alone that are usually reserved for large crowds.

Still Happy - Past films focused on lone people at comedy clubs or karaoke bars.

Somewhat suspicious - Wikingsson, a popular TV personality ...

Happy again - There wasn't any ceremony at all. He just started talking to his bassist and drummer about how they were going to start the first song.

Happier now - He [Wikingsson] broke out into applause when the song finished. "Nobody took notice of me," he says. "I figured that maybe it just sounded phony or weird. During the second song, 'Blueberry Hill,' I realized I had to say something. It was just too weird. I screamed out, 'You guys sound great!' That caused Dylan to burst out laughing. Now, I have two kids and their births were great, but him laughing onstage at some lousy fucking comment of mine was unbelievable."

I'm not the most eager fan of Bob Dylan, I might even be the least eager, though he does have a good radio show on one of those satellite things, but the [super]fan comparing the birth of two children to a concert makes me wonder a tad.
posted by vapidave at 6:56 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Unless I was stopped I would have to sing along. As in share a mic.
posted by surplus at 6:57 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Hm. I could kind of see myself eager to do this with PJ Harvey, since I think she might scale the show to the audience...though I would be worried the entire time that she was thinking "who is this wanker?"

I could also see enjoying other acts if it was a practice session or something and I was the only one who happened to be sitting there.

But as rtha says, I would be way too self-conscious to be the entire audience for, say, a Beyonce show.
posted by maxwelton at 6:57 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Introvert here. If all concerts were like this, I would go to all the concerts.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:59 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Unhappy - "To be honest, I went to a karaoke bar with the production guys and sang my throat out. I selected all Dylan songs, but they just had these crappy Byrds versions."
posted by thelonius at 7:09 PM on November 25, 2014


Hmm- some people don't care for Bob Dylan? I had no idea such people existed- how fascinating to hear all about it!
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:11 PM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


I actually saw Dylan for the first (and likely last) time last month. The man's influence on popular music is almost literally incalculable- it goes way way beyond what people tend to think which is, "Wrote some protest songs, then wrote some psychedelic songs, played the harmonica."

The reality is that the entire concept of what rock music can be- that meaningful lyrics can co-exist with electric instrumentation, that it can be political and can be high art and poetry and anything else it wants to be- that's all Bob. Without him none of that exists. Without him there's no Beatles as we know them. The concepts about rock music from the '60s until now that seem so obvious they must have just existed all along- no. Bob invented them.

The thing about his live shows now- you can't really call it "good" or "bad" at this point. It's just Bob's show. His vocals are not incompetent, and he's not mumbling or rushing through songs as he did at certain times in the past. And he's an excellent pianist and harmonica player. What you get is Bob and an electric band modeled, or so I read, on Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys. You get maybe two or three songs from before 1990 and a playlist that barely changes from night to night. There are no acoustic songs, and Bob no longer plays guitar at all. The man has always done exactly what he wanted, and this is what he wants to do now, and it bears almost literally no relation to what we historically think of as "Bob Dylan." It's not a bad or lazy show, but it's also not something I ever need to see again.

The funny thing is he's the one artist who I can imagine giving the *exact* same show for one person as he would for 10,000.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:21 PM on November 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


Even the idea of a rock artist radically reinventing himself comes from Bob. They haven't all been winners, but before him it would've been unthinkable for an artist to change that radically and continue to have an audience.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:26 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pretty well said Dr. Jim, but

The man's influence on popular music is almost literally incalculable- it goes way way beyond what people tend to think which is, "Wrote some protest songs, then wrote some psychedelic songs, played the harmonica."


That's what folks tend to think??
posted by stinkfoot at 7:46 PM on November 25, 2014


It is roughly like walking into a deserted church because you like that sort of thing and a choir of angels starts up ...
Dylan's poetry and his penchant for living out loud makes him a voice in all our minds. Even people wbo ignore him hear his phrases, like Benjamin Franklin's sayings, or Shakespeare's sayings for that matter. His poetry is certainly woven into the fabric of my time.
posted by Oyéah at 8:12 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


komara: "Yeah, I couldn't do the Dylan thing. Make it Tom Waits, though, and I'll gladly fight whoever necessary to prove I'm the superfan. I can't even fathom what a single-audience-member Waits show would be like."

Very, very scary.

But I'd do it in a heartbeat.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:19 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think I would be too self-conscious to enjoy myself... I'm glad this guy enjoyed himself.

My god, yes. A decade ago I paid the registration fee for a friend of mine from abroad to perform her one-woman show at the Toronto Fringe. By the time the Fringe rolled around I was very ill and unfortunately could not make it to any of the performances. As I was recovering, she offered to come to my place and perform the hour-long play for just me. That would have made me FANTASTICALLY self-conscious, so I declined.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:30 PM on November 25, 2014


Let's remember the early version of Strawberry Fields on the Anthology CD is a total Dylan folk song. Various editions all over YouTube. Bob is a global treasure if only for making people think, something fading from our natures and always in need of support.

Happy Thanksgiving.
posted by Freedomboy at 9:02 PM on November 25, 2014


You get maybe two or three songs from before 1990 and a playlist that barely changes from night to night.

Thing is, that's a pretty new development. Prior to this year the norm was nobody, least of all the band, knew what they were playing next. The last time I saw him a few years ago, and there was always this tentative quality with a lot of vamping, people cycling through stock riffs as they felt their way around and nobody quite wanted to totally take a solo since Bob might start singing again any second and so there was a lot of this kind of half-soloing...but then when I saw him this year they were TIGHT. I liked both shows, but it's a totally different approach now. Granted, I wouldn't want to necessarily see this show more than once, but Bob's worked himself into a position where even consistency is a surprise.
posted by anazgnos at 9:28 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Miles Davis did this would he face the audience?
posted by 724A at 9:34 PM on November 25, 2014


I have a friend that sort of had this happen for him only with the Eagles. He was working for a wealthy man who was a big bundler for the Democratic party. He was hosting a party at his house in LA for Bill Clinton. It was outside. The Eagles were going to perform. Well during the day, he told my friend to go to his house to pick some important papers up. He added, "Tonight's band may be setting up. Feel free to take a look." So after he got the papers, he went around back and there were the Eagles on stage doing a sound check to Take It Easy. He stood about 10 feet from the stage while they played to him. After the song, Frey looked at him and said, "Hey." My friend in a slight panic responded, "Hey to you." Conversation never got going.
posted by 724A at 9:39 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


I would totally rush the stage and start moshing.

It wouldn't matter that I was the only one in the audience. The energy would be so great that I would lift myself over my head and start passing myself from myself to myself.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:39 PM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


I have yet to meet someone who went to a Dylan concert who didn't come away disappointed.
posted by Brodiggitty at 10:25 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ongoing Swedish film series Experiment Ensam (Experiment Alone) films people experiencing things completely alone that are usually reserved for large crowds.

That's such a completely Swedish thing. It's like a reality show where only one person lives on an island and spends the entire series contemplating the possibility of voting himself off of it.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:31 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


> I have yet to meet someone who went to a Dylan concert who didn't come away disappointed.

I've seen him a few times over the years, and I'm not going to say that every concert was a true gem, but he can bring it when he wants to. Of those times I saw him, two shows were well beyond my expectations -- he sang his stuff like he meant it, in fresh arrangements that kicked ass, and he and his band owned that stage. I haven't seen him in a few years, and I wasn't thrilled with his arrangements the last show I saw, but he's still capable of putting on an interesting and compelling show. I am glad he's still playing -- long may he run. I'd see him as the sole audience member in a heartbeat.
posted by mosk at 11:57 PM on November 25, 2014


"How does it FEEL/To be on your OWN!"
posted by colie at 12:06 AM on November 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


Dylan doesn't really do 'shows' and perhaps hasn't since the 60s. He simply continues his development as a person through various types of song, and sometimes people are allowed in to watch.

I've gone to plenty of his shows hoping deep down for a note-perfect heartfelt rendition of Tangled Up In Blue, but you realise as soon as he starts that if he did that he would cease to be Bob Dylan. Or he would be doing it as some kind of art installation, like Zappa used to with his bands.
posted by colie at 12:17 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


I seem to recall there was an episode of Just the Tip ("the internet's least sexy podcast") about the awkwardness of being performed for one-on-one
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:35 AM on November 26, 2014


I' m a big Dylan dork, and I wouldn't be able to do this - I would be too self-conscious of The Man looking at me squirming in my seat, which maybe is the point of the project anyway. I'd rather skip the performance, have a couple of beers with Bob and co. , and get a chance to ask about why it matters that Madonna still hasn't shown and who the fuck the Eskimo guy is.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:41 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing about his live shows now- you can't really call it "good" or "bad" at this point. It's just Bob's show. His vocals are not incompetent, and he's not mumbling or rushing through songs as he did at certain times in the past. And he's an excellent pianist and harmonica player.


I've seen Dylan recently a couple of times including a year ago and once probably a dozen years ago, and of course I'm familiar with his recorded music. I agree he's entertaining as a player of various instruments. I disagree about his vocals - they are a mumbled, growly, incoherent mess at this point. They barely resemble the notes much less words, and I think most audience members forgive the performance because, hey, it's Dylan. I think people mistake their own vast knowledge of the lyrics and tunes for Dylan actually singing them. Audiences seem to be split on this issue, with die-hard fans reacting in shock and dismay when I make these points while everybody else generally agrees and wished they hadn't paid so much for their ticket.

But, there I am, still seeing him from time to time, eternally hoping for a better performance and, really, it keeps getting worse. That's a testament to the man and the power of his music. I just wish he'd stop singing, because between these bad concerts, the ticket prices, and the plumbing of his catalog for commercials, I think he's tarnishing his own image.
posted by Muddler at 1:45 AM on November 26, 2014


I disagree about his vocals - they are a mumbled, growly, incoherent mess at this point. They barely resemble the notes much less words,

I thought that was his trademark.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:51 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just wish he'd stop singing, because between these bad concerts, the ticket prices, and the plumbing of his catalog for commercials, I think he's tarnishing his own image.

I understand the sentiment but I get the very distinct feeling that Bob couldn't care less about his "image".
posted by chavenet at 2:15 AM on November 26, 2014


I can't even fathom what a single-audience-member Waits show would be like.

Surely you've seen Big Time? I imagine it would be pretty much like that. The proper way to see Tom Waits alone is to spend most of the time next door to the actual ballroom, in the lounge, getting very drunk over the course of the show.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:44 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Good concept - - it's just a shame they had to spoil it by filming it (with an eight camera setup, no less).
posted by fairmettle at 2:48 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't believe we have to defend Bob Dylan. Pretty soon we'll all be doing that with the Beatles, and that is when we can finally write an obituary to rock and roll.
posted by mysticreferee at 7:25 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't even fathom what a single-audience-member Waits show would be like

I imagine it might be like this only with one extra person
posted by foleypt at 9:09 AM on November 26, 2014


Good concept - - it's just a shame they had to spoil it by filming it (with an eight camera setup, no less).

Yes, I don't know how serious they were about this being an Experiment, but filming it would obviously affect the performance, and the audience member's ("subject" if we're still calling it an experiment) behavior. Was dismayed to read that. Would've been better to have had hidden observation, perhaps.

Still, kind of fun that they did this and that Dylan agreed, even if they did throw buckets of money at him.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:55 AM on November 26, 2014


Using Dylan of all artists, the celeb in the most guilded of fame cages for this concept is the best most fookin' brilliant attack on the fame machine since Stuttering John
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:28 AM on November 26, 2014


You don't have to be rich to have private shows. If you're a fan of significantly small-time, obscure, or weird music, you can have your own mini-shows for a reasonable amount of money. A friend's father and his friends get together and hire small-name electro-acoustic-type musicians out for intimate house shows. When I heard that, my mind opened up. "You mean you can just pay people to play directly for you and your friends?" Since then, I've thought about hiring bands to play in a local park just for the fun of having live music in an open neighborhood setting.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:11 PM on November 26, 2014


I would totally rush the stage and start moshing..

Eh, it's been done.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:48 PM on November 26, 2014


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