NextStage (now Nokia) in Grand Prairie, Tx - a Review
This auditorium is an artless, utilitarian, quick and economical, construction designed to hold 6350 souls in a continuous state of screaming, wailing rapture for two or more hours. There is not a hint of rich mahogany or even a picture or two on the walls. It is almost completely bare with varying shades of industrial gray everywhere. Whoever designed this place followed the "form follows function" advice to the letter. There is nothing extraneous here.
Therefore, I like it. It's my kind of place. Easy in, easy out. Get the job done ... efficiently.
The hall itself is a pie shaped wedge with no pillars and there is balcony seating in the back (the nose bleed section). It's advertised as an "intimate" setting ... hmmmmm ... how intimate can one get with the quarterback at a football game from the bleachers in a typical stadium? Well, for the drunken, ready to disrobe gals in the front row ... I guess you could say that it was intimate.
The seats were advertised as high-back and 2 inches wider than a typical movie theater seat. This was a lie if anyone thought it meant "luxurious". The seats are the same width as any typical mall theater but somewhat less comfortable and "high back" means to me that the back comes up to the top of my shoulders (no way). They were however utilitarian and OK for the time we spent in them.
It takes about 1000 cubic feet (10'x10'x10') of space for an individual to feel relatively comfortable for that amount of time so I did the math. 6350 x 1000 = ~6 million cubic feet of space. Looking over the huge room I estimated it to be about 100,000 square feet (ballpark) and 60 feet high ... so there's the 6 million cubic feet ... that's acceptable.
They had virgin restrooms ... not a spot on 'em (well, that won't last ;o). The lobby was appropriately huge and unobstructed and the ceiling was just as high as the concert hall itself. Lots of opportunity to waste cash on souvenirs.
Red flag wavers directed traffic into and out of the parking areas and all the way back to the main highway ... maybe just a first show stunt, but nice (easy in, easy out).
There is a terrible design flaw however ...
Because the stage extends back into the rear, there is a dead zone on both sides of the arena where you don't want to be seated during any performance which utilizes the entire stage. You won't be able to see people in the back.
This was done as a matter of economics no doubt (or maybe the architect was "hung up" on the 90o angle). I personally find it unacceptable and they will pay big time in the long run for the effrontery. As a general business rule, you don't insult your paying guests by selling them a full price ticket which allows them to see only 60% of the show. Screw that noise!
Our tickets were on the side in section 105. It wasn't till the end of the show (when we got up to stand near the middle) that we realized there were two backup singers standing in the "dead zone" as well as sundry musicians of course. This was not too bad in a one person show but would be awful if it were a mystery play where the butler murders the host in the dead zone and you didn't see who dun it.
On to the concert
We got there an hour early and the thing didn't start till an hour late. So we waited two hours for a two hour show. Good thing we had a couple of brewskies to mellow us out. They serve beer and mixed drinks in the lobby and some of the local 'hos' in the front row got tanked in their efforts to get Mr. Miguel to "pick me" as his belly warmer for the night.
The concert itself was excellent (both of us enjoyed it immensely) in spite of its one horrendous flaw. It was way, way, way toooooo loud. I mean it was ear splitting. I had to wad up Kleenex and stuff in my ears to avoid permanent damage. I stuffed it in so hard, it took 10 minutes to get it out. Next time I'll bring industrial ear plugs.
The excessive volume was OK at the start and at the end (a big finale). But in the middle, he should have showcased his voice. After all, that's what everybody came to hear. Instead he gave equal billing throughout the show to the band, i.e. the volume of the band was equal to his voice and so competed with him on every song (even the more hmmmm ... slow, romantic ones ... I'm guessing here since I don't speak much Spanish).
The reason for this is that Mr. Miguel is still young and unsure of himself and relies on the band for emotional support. I believe he thinks he can't carry the show if the bulk of the volume came from him. This is unfortunate because he does have and excellent popular singing voice ... and just as important ... he has an excellent command of that voice. He doesn't need the noise of the band to support him but merely to accompany him while he leads it. Ideally. 2/3 of a song should be his voice and 1/3 the band (by volume).
Almost the entire show was spent "red zoning" his equipment. This caused a great deal of inexcusable and unprofessional "pflunking" (caused by the initial puff of air impacting the microphone turning the human voice into a percussion instrument) and "pfluttering" (caused by the sound bouncing between the performers face and the microphone) ... of the microphone which is not designed to filter out that much feedback and undesirable air effects. On several occasions he looked over to the side at his tech guys as if to say "What's going on here?". The problem was simply his own misuse of the available technology. Modern sound equipment is good but its range is not infinite. When you turn up the gain that much you over-burden the filtering mechanisms. One must stay within the manufacturer's suggested parametric limits or suffer the consequences.
Hopefully, he will do better in the future as he matures ... or ... what!? ... take someone else's advice!? ... like, his own tech people? ... hmmmm ... naaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh.
One last general comment
The reason why young people like to hear very loud music with lots of base in it is an artifact from the womb. Here one is safe and secure. It's warm and snuggly and there is the ever-present sound of the mother's beating heart. When you see a teen turn up the volume it means he is generally frightened and longs to return to the security of the womb where the only sound is his mother. By turning up the volume, he drowns out all other noises and thus isolates himself in a cocoon of heart pumping ... he becomes ... once again ... a happy ... thumbsucking ... fetus.
Update 11/06/05 Luis Miguel Concert:
This concert was the best we've seen so far at the now "Nokia Live Center". Everything went off without a hitch. We now have enough sense not to get there too early. No concerts start till about 40 minutes after the stated start time. So, we got there, bought a couple pretzels and a big Pepsi and arrived at our seats approximately 5 seconds before the show started. What timing! When the show was over, we lingered in the lobby for about a 1/2 hour and were able to leave and get out of the parking lot onto the main streets without waiting in lines.
Mr. Miguel was a few pounds lighter this time, was more professional than ever and worked the crowd as well as any entertainer ever did. Our seats were on the singer's right and about 20 feet from the his head when he was stage right which was quite often (seats H-10,11 sec.104). My wife was pleased with the proximity. Three girls tried to get on stage but only one made it successfully (got her arms around Mr.Miguel) and was gently hustled off by security without incident. at this concert, we didn't have a mad screamer near us ... but ... a couple in front of us were about 6'4" and 6' tall (with upswept coiffure) ... so we had to peer between them for part of the show. There is always something wrong with your location ... if not from the venue or entertainers, then, from the audience. However, we were able to move over enough when a girl next to us abandoned her seat to take up permanent residence the mosh pit. Also, if you get good seats, be prepared to stand for most of the two hours because most people near the entertainer just won't sit down. In the sections behind the front sections, everyone eventually sits down and gets to rest their dogs.
No cameras allowed. So everyone was taking pics with their phonecams (yours truly included - just about a half-dozen). Some brought very small ultra-compact digicams with movie modes and got away with it. The security personal (all over the place) will assist you with your "camera problems" ... if they see you ... Much of the material was different from the first concert and he appears to now have an enormous repertoire to choose from. He used the "mariachi" for about eight songs whereas, last time he took a break after the mariachi arrived. This time he took no break from the two hour concert ... only a few minutes necessary to change his coat or pants. I have seen others who go on stage with just a pair of old jeans and a T-shirt and was somewhat insulted by their bad attire. Mr. Miguel always honors his fans by dressing up for the occasion (for which many paid more than a week's pay). It amazes me that anyone human can sing with the force he does for two full hours without greatly damaging his vocal cords. I would say he sings as loud and forcefully as Tom Jones in his prime. At one point his mike went dead for half a minute and I could still hear him above the band ... even with my earplugs in (a must for old people).
If you go to a Luis Miguel concert, you will definitely get your money's worth regardless of the cost ... very professional entertainer, focused on the event, his fans and his music. He takes it all seriously, pays attention to what's going on ... all the while being gracious and upbeat ... a real gentleman with a long career still stretching out in front of him.
How to get good tickets.
You need to be online exactly when tickets go on sale at ticketmaster.com ... practice before that day to buy tickets to some other concert that you are not really interested in (just don't hit the confirmation button after you've given them your credit card number ... in fact, go as far as you can without giving your credit card number) ... you really need to practice because you are going to have to compete with the "re-sellers" (i.e. scalpers) who are doing the same thing professionally. What you have to do is keep clicking on the buy tickets button on the page for that event at around the time the tickets first go on sale. If you don't get in, it says "Tickets not yet available" or something like that. So, you go back immediately to the buy tickets page and try again. Don't wait a second to try again. Just do it ... right now. If you wait ten minutes, you're dead meat. It's all over.
When you get in, you are in an electronic queue to purchase as many as 8 tickets. When you come to the buy best available tickets button ... click it immediately. Now, if you've practiced, you will have your credit card out in front of you and any other data required ... because ... if you fuck up ... you go to the end of the line ... and ... there is a time limit for you to stay on a page without doing anything. So, you have to have your mind made up then and there. They will not give you your exact seat locations. They give you only the seating block you will be in. For instance, mine said, "best available seats" then "section 104". You don't know the exact seats until you make your purchase. Take it or leave it. For Nokia center, my wife wants section 102,103 or 104 or forget about it. That's a tough order. Personally, the first five rows of sections 203, 204, 205 are also pretty good. Look at the above map of the place.
If you fail in your attempt to get good tickets, you can still buy good seats ... IF ... you are willing to shell out 100% to 200% ... MORE than the tickets just sold for ... from the afformentioned "re-sellers". I guess this is what the rich people do. I am not one of them so I am on my own ;o) I just have to get lucky and "hit" the purchase button at the quickest possible instant. I suppose it's the same way everywhere else.