Welcome to Live Exhaust

Congratulations! You’ve successfully made it to the inaugural post of Live Exhaust! I’m not going to waste much time with lengthy introductions. You’ll figure out who I am and what I’m all about by reading the blog or visiting www.christophercatania.com. And once you do you’ll figure out that I love experiencing and writing about live music and that I get to do so by writing concert reviews for several publications. But one of the unfortunate downsides is that I’m often limited to a strict 400-500 word count with necessary content limitations.

And another reason I wanted to start a blog like this goes back to 2006 when I passed out at a solo two-set show by Glen Kotche and Jeff Tweedy of alt-country quintet Wilco at Otto’s in Dekalb, IL. No, this is not the usual self-indulgent “I got wasted at a show” nostalgic schlock. It’s not that at all. I actually remember the show very well. Maybe to well. It was a moment I didn’t see coming at all. It was a moment where my love for live music took on a whole new significance. It was a moment that has since influenced every live concert I have attended since in some way or another. And the following super-abridged version works perfect to kick off this ambitious new blog: Live Exhaust.

Drummer Glen Kotche just finished his solo set, performing songs from his 2006 Mobile album. The set was phenomenal and included actual live chirping crickets and a song inspired by “Where the Wild Things Are.” And if you’ve ever seen Wilco live you know the power of Glen Kotche’s drumming. As I was eagerly awaiting the start of Jeff Tweedy’s set I began to get hot and sweaty. The room started to rotate and my vision got funky and fuzzy and as I fell to ground I reached out to grab my friend’s shoulder.

I was then dragged across the floor of Otto’s unconscious and shaking violently and convulsing in the arms of my friend who had thankfully tagged along with me to the show. I would later learn that my passing out was due to having a “non-diabetic hyperglycemic episode” or a case of “syncope” as the doctors call it. Basically, I had used up all the sugar in my blood and my body was going into shut-down mode which evolved losing all feeling in my arms and legs and not being able to see.

I was rushed to the hospital where they pumped 60 grams of dextrose (sugar) in to my blood to bring me back to normal. Ever since that moment I have a lingering fear in the back of my mind that I will again pass out. Many live shows later, I haven’t, but however subtle it may be, that Wilco show experience still influences the way I take in a concert and what I expect from myself as a fan/critic and the artist performing.

Needless to say, when Kotche’s solo record was released a few weeks later I rushed to the record shop to buy it(I’m actually listening to it as I type this blog). And ever since, that album and all other Wilco records have played a significant role in my life.

And ever since that Otto’s show I thought about how crucial a role live music plays in my life. And even though, I had been a Wilco fan before that Otto’s show but my experience confirmed that live shows make the music even more special and have profound effects on us for years after the show.

To some extent, we’ve all had memorable moments at a concert. It’s why we go to a live show, to have an life-changing experience and the gobs of money we pay each year also confirmed that Live Exhaust is worth my time and your’s. I’ve also discovered that examining the relationship between the fan, the live experience and the impact of the music thereafter only adds to my love for hip hop, rock and popular music in general.

Without a doubt, before, during and after the Otto’s experience and thinking in terms of the old philosophical snafu “which came first the chicken or the egg,” looking at a live show in this way puts a fresh perspective on concert reviews when your able to expound on the idea of who is influencing who more; the music or the event, the fan or the artist?

I begin with the Wilco story because it works perfectly as an example to briefly explain what you can expect when you click over to Live Exhaust. So keep it right here all you live music junkies! No genre is off limits and Live Exhaust will dig into anything related to the experience of a live show. From the impact of Johnny Cash performing live at Folsom Prison to the hustle and grind taking place at a Chicago hip hop show, Live Exhaust will bring you the goods from all genres and types of venues. To get an idea for the type of events I’ve covered go to www.christophercatania.com.

Ready? Then please extend your hand so I can stamp it with the necessary LE ink and lead you to your seat as the show is about to start.

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