I do believe I just saw my last show at Oakland’s new Fox Theater last night at the Animal Collective show. It was my second visit to the beautifully refurbished venue and, god dang it, I just don’t like the place as a music venue. It’s way too big, the sound is awful and I feel completely disconnected from the artists. Mostly because I can’t see anything, and I’m really tall!
The space is one of the most stunning venues I’ve ever seen, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to belittle the monumental renovation project that took place to bring this classy lady back to life. It’s truly beautiful and likely one of the most well thought out venues in terms of comfort and amenities – easy bar access on all levels, ample restrooms and in floor A/C vents that pump out a refreshing rose water infused elixir that has to be one of the most ingenious inventions EVER!
My first time at The Fox was for The Black Keys a month ago where I had a terribly unfulfilling experience. I was tempted to rant then but decided to give it one more shot just to make sure. And last night’s Animal Collective show left me once again unsatisfied. The biggest complaint on the venue is the sound – it’s awful, echoey and muffled it sounds like your listening to the music through the ears of an 80 year old. And then there’s the size of the venue. On both visits, I moved around looking for that sweet spot – trying various locations on the floor and even the VIP area – but never found contentment. I just wanted to get closer, pull the artist too me and get lost in their performance. That never happened. Instead I found myself getting lost in the scenery, staring into the glowing eyes of Buddha, as opposed to the musicians on stage.
While there’s definitely a need for a venue like The Fox, and it will do well and prosper, you can count me out. Call me a music snob who’s been spoiled by too many intimate shows, but I’ll gladly sacrifice the posh interior and rose water scented air of The Fox for the graffitied bathrooms, beer soaked floors and the l’eau de fart aroma of Bottom of the Hill any day.