Dream Theater - Roseland Ballroom, NYC 8/31/00
Reviewed by Tim Stradling
New York city is an acquired taste. To me, it's usually a bad
taste, but necessary nonetheless. Where else could a band with the
vast diversity and drama of Dream Theater find such a die hard and maniacal
crowd to support them during the filming of what will become their first
live DVD release? Currently supporting their brilliant Metropolis
Part 2: Scenes From A Memory they performed 2 sets of stunning
technical prog-orgasm to a packed and sweaty hall.
We arrived approximately 6:45, and were stunned at the sight of a line
of fans stretching 3 city blocks. The show was general admission,
and most had arrived early that morning hoping to secure a spot at the
front of the stage, and possibly be captured on film as a part of DT
history. Our tickets were "will-call" so we moved past the
line to find the box office, expecting to receive our tickets, and return
to the back of huge line. We were directed to a short 1/2 block line
for will-call tickets, and after receiving them, were allowed entry into
the gig, bypassing hundreds of fans who suffered the indignities of living
on the street for 10 hours. Who was I to complain?
The excited energy was palpable as the place slowly filled.
People > sliding in every free inch of space to pack the floor into
something more intimate than any of my first dates. New York attitude
was in full effect as anyone hoping to go the bathroom, and expecting
people to let them back through the crowd without hassle will attest.
As a prelude, a home video of people performing ballet to Dream Theater
songs irritated more than amused the crowd. Chants of "Fuck
this shit!" resounded. The stage was sparse, with little
adornment other than the amps, and the video screens that would soon
flash snippets of lyrics, images from the story, and psychedelic
The moment was at hand, the lights dimmed, and the ticking clock
strained to be heard over the roar of the crowd. The lights went up
on a older man in suit narrating as the Therapist to James Labrie's
Nicholas, lying on a couch. This was to be the first surprise of the
night, as the crowd drowned out Labrie in unison - "Hello Victoria,
so glad to see you my friend..."
To say that the band was having an "on" night would be
unfair, as every time I've seen them they were nothing short of
spectacular. They were certainly excited, and the near mania of the
fans could only help to fuel what was to be a special night for all
involved. I had seen them perform "Scenes" in it's
entirety last February, and while that show was excellent, this night
would prove to be exceptional. Signs went up from fans traveling
from all parts of the world, there was inexplicable moshing, and some
crowd surfing. The energy level of the crowd was high throughout the
set, and the band were joined onstage by a female soul singer for Through
Her Eyes and a 8 person gospel choir for the astounding The Spirit Carries
On. The crowd was visibly touched by the deep emotional power and
unity of the song. We were all drenched in sweat and who knows what
other bodily fluids, as we sung along like addicts mad with the need for
the kind of intense intricate tapestry that is this "Scenes".
For me, the complete highlight of "Scenes" is Finally Free with
the struggle, and murder of Julian and Victoria, coupled with the jarring
ending. The band played while the whole song, struggle and murder
were acted out on and projected onto the screens to the climax, and
finally faded out to the static, and obvious approval of the crowd.
The lights came up, and notice of a 20 minute intermission projected on
the screens. The people that moved out of their spots were replaced
with different people, and what I had hoped would be a chance to cool off
and catch my breath was anything but, as we were still packed in like
grains of sand on a beach. The screen showed an eclectic montage of clips
from Scarface, Reservoir Dogs, Austin Powers, Clerks (Berserker!), South
Park (Uncle Fucka!), the fabulous anal puckering scene from Pink Flamingos
(to a disapproving host of boos from the crowd), and several more clips
that I didn't recognize.
The band retook the stage and launched into Metropolis Part 1, and a
collection of songs that relied heavily on Awake and Images And
Words; The Mirror, Medley: Just Let Me Breathe/Acid Rain/New Millenium/Caught
in a Web, Another Day (joined by saxaphone player), A Mind Beside Itself:
Erotomania/Voices/Silent Man, Learning to Live, and the encore being A
Change of Seasons in it's 25 minute entirety. The crowd seemed wiped
out about halfway through the second set, and personally, it was
overwhelming. Perhaps to a complete sycophant of the band (which most of
their fans seem to be) I would have been gladly eaten up. I can't
think of any band that I would want to see perform for 3 1/2 hours (not
including intermission) packed in like so many sweaty sardines. We
moved towards the back during Learning to Live, and being past the point
of Dream Theater overload, we joined people in the lobby area where fans
were lying down, leaning against walls, and socializing.
I firmly believe that it was a case of too much of a good thing.
We stepped out into the thick glop that passes for air in NYC, and
laughed to ourselves that if the only thing that we can complain about is
that a band played too long, that we made out pretty good. We gave
our all during the first set, and the second set was exhausting, but we
wouldn't have missed it for the world. When the DVD comes out, look
for me. I'll be the guy with the long, stringy, wet hair stuck to my
face and the black t-shirt screaming his head off!