My regular readers may recall my ongoing connection with the boy band Emblem3 — they’re the “X-Factor” finalists with whom I arranged a face-to-face interview with my then-14-year-old daughter, my single most significant fatherly moment since I rescued her from being run over by an oncoming sled when she was 4. I’m sure there were other things in between, but those two stand out.
Regardless, this week I pledged to help Jackie get tickets to one of Emblem3’s “Fireside Story Sessions,” which are sort of like FDR’s fireside chats, except instead of FDR and a fireplace you get three young men with impeccable abdominal muscles or adorably tousled hair, or both, depending on which combination of them you’re talking about. And when I started to read about the sessions, it occurred to me that this is something every band in America should be doing, not just the ones with abs.
Here’s how they frame it at Emblem3.com (natch):
We’re inviting you to hang with us around the campfire for a super intimate, personal, and stripped down E3 experience. We love playing big venues, don’t get us wrong, but we need a break from the studio and honestly just miss hanging out with you! This is your chance to spend time with us one-on-one, hear some of the new songs we’re working on, and get to know us a little better …
This is a super exclusive event for our biggest fans (that’s you!) to get even closer to us than you have before … You will all be getting a [meet-and-greet] and photo … But there’s also going to be some fun little activities, an extended Q&A, some acoustic renditions of your favorite songs, and you’ll be the first to hear some of the new songs we’ve been working on.
Now, I doubt there’s going to be an actual campfire, at least at the Boston stop, because it’s at a wedding function hall and they tend to frown on that sort of thing. But the plus side of that venue is the size — in fact, they’re only selling 200 tickets to each show. Which means the girls will be close enough to Emblem3 to smell the Axe body spray wafting off their bodies.
I know hanging out with this particular group of musicians (?) may not especially appeal to you, unless you’re a girl between 12 and 16 or are my wife, who seemed highly offended that she wasn’t being offered the second ticket. But think for a minute if you could get this kind of experience with Bruce Springsteen. Or Kenny Chesney or Jon Bon Jovi or Pink!, or whoever. (Not Lady Gaga, though — sometimes that close is TOO close.)
I know you’re thinking that those bigger acts would have to charge a fortune — and even Emblem3 is actually doing a huge mark-up for these shows, charging $100 per ticket, or in other words at least the amount that Boomers pay for basically every show they attend.
And Bruce Springsteen actually did a similar thing back in 2003, when he played a pair of fundraisers at the tiny Somerville Theater. As I recall those were $500 — my wife went, I didn’t, long story — and the Q&A was basically a disaster, not unlike a prolonged version of one of those SNL Chris Farley interview segments. (In fact, my wife reports that when a Q&A participant asked Bruce his biggest regret, his response was “I think I’m experiencing it right now.”)
But if they really wanted to, and it wasn’t for charity, even the big names could keep prices relatively low, especially if they’re just showing up with an acoustic guitar and not a video screen or backup singer in sight. And a few tweaks to the format could make some kind of audience interaction at least manageable. A lot of people would get left out, but we’ve got to start somewhere.
And maybe offering that kind of personal connection, even to a small crowd, without the people next to you jabbering over their jumbo beers and yelling “Play Thunder Road!,” is just what music fans need right now.
So come on Bruce! Don’t let Drew, Wesley and Keaton show you up! And yes, those are their real names.
Read more Pete at Pete’s Pop Culture, Parenting & Pets Blog.