Here's the thing about the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra's POPS! concerts: You might not think you'd want to go, but you'd be wrong. Take me for example.
When I was a wee lad, I thought the music world began at the Germs and ended at Jawbreaker. I guess you could say I've expanded my horizons since then because I've been attending the LBSO's POPS! and classics concerts for about two seasons now and I might say they are my favorite shows to see.
Now before you get all freaked out about going to a show where a sweaty dude in flannel's crotch isn't pressed into your backside, perhaps you should know that POPS! concerts aren't traditional classical music shows. This season's opener, for example, is on Saturday at the Long Beach Arena and features singer Tony DeSare doing a bunch of tunes from the Great American Songbook. That means songs written by the likes of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and George Gershwin–you'll probably hear “My Funny Valentine,” “Just One of Those Things” and even Prince's “Kiss,” along with some DeSare originals in the vein of the classic material he performs.
DeSare is proof that POPS! shows are fun. The 35-year-old singer lives
in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a neighborhood he describes as “the
only place in the world you can order pad thai at 4 a.m. and get it
delivered ten minutes later by a guy from Guatemala.” See what I mean?
The dude's not only a killer crooner, he's got a sense of humor too.
Already this show is way less stuffy than you imagined.
it's so close to Halloween, the audience is encouraged to dress in
costume for this performance. (Personally? I think part of the fun of
going to the LBSO is getting your swag on in fancy clothes. But I guess
you could go as a werewolf or one of the guys from The Hangover if you wanted to.)
Oh yeah, the audience is encouraged to bring a picnic and eat before the gig. This includes wine, people! Now there's no excuse.
in case you're still on the fence about the coolness of the POPS!
concerts, here are five questions with DeSare that prove the real
squares are the ones staying home instead of checking out classic pop
OC Weekly (Ryan Ritchie): What's it like being the youngest person at all your shows? Seriously,
why do you think more young people (teens, 20s and 30s) don't know more
about jazz standards, POPS shows and such?
shows…sometimes the grandkids are forced to come. I'm just
kidding…sort of. Actually, I do find that there is often a wide age
range at my shows. One great thing about the style of music I chose to
pursue is that it's appeal is pretty universal. Many young people don't
know more about classic pop (or jazz standards, as you called them)
mostly because they haven't been exposed to enough of it to develop an
appreciation, though I find that young people these days are open to
just about anything that they think is good. That is why I think it's
hard to define a generational sound for the current generation often
called the “Millenials.” They have the entire catalog of 20th Century
pop music to choose from and can spend their time discovering the
thousands of great recordings that have already occurred. I don't
think the style of music I've been known for doing will ever be
mainstream again; at the same time I don't think it will ever die
because there are new people falling in love with it every minute of
orchestral pops shows, I think there are many reasons. One being a
generational difference in supporting local arts, another being the fact
that the younger people tend to have busier lives (children, demanding
jobs, etc.) and less disposable income. Many orchestras now are
making great strides in finding what it takes to attract younger people
to live orchestral shows.
not like a normal club gig where you send them a demo, right? I assume
there's more to it than that.
orchestras now. No, it's not an easy gig to get. It's a combination of
hard work, getting a reputation for being good and professional, having
a great team that believes in you and at the end of the day, being able
to deliver good entertainment to audiences. Singing my music with a
live orchestra is probably the most thrilling thing I do now and I try
my hardest every time to give it everything I've got and get better at
it every time.
because it is so expensive to run a rehearsal. Usually we get to play
everything once though. If I'm lucky, maybe twice. The good thing is
the level of musicality of a symphony orchestra is usually so high, it's
all they really need.
would never expect you to like.
listened to a lot of Bon Iver, Mumford & Sons and Foster the
People. And of course, I won't change the channel if an Air Supply song
comes on the radio. My Vanilla Ice cassette finally broke a few years
ago, so I've adjusted to life without my daily dose of “Ice Ice Baby.”
The LBSO allows guests to bring food and beverages to a pre-show
picnic. If you were having a pre-show picnic (as an audience member, not
a performer), would you drink red or white wine? Or perhaps both? If
not wine, what would you bring if you were having a pre-show picnic?
red. I hear that people are going to be dressing up for Halloween, too,
during my show. Probably from my angle it will look like a bunch of
zombies having a picnic with pitas and sun-dried tomato hummus from