Tonight I tucked my skinny jeans into my usual pair of beloved boots (also known privately to self as “my beautiful”): knee-high slouchy black leather Prada things with a heel high enough to be a bit dangerous but sturdy enough to, as Nancy Sinatra put it so succinctly, be made for walkin’.
As my small child (he of the previous entry) followed me out of the walk-in closet, he said, “Mommy I really like your boots.”
Yes, I thought, this is indeed my son.
This is the second time I’ve seen Maroon 5 and their live performances are so much better than their CDs, which are fun and engaging enough, but none of the songs off Songs About Jane truly registered with me — whose tastes run more toward Kaiser Chiefs, Dandy Warhols, Blur, White Stripes, The Hives, The Killers, The Presets — and of course I bow at the alter of Bowie, the Stones, and, of late, Bob Dylan — until the band sprang a live performance at a Global Green event last spring, which intrigued me enough to buy their first CD about five years after everyone else did.
Live — like tonight — their music comes off harder, edgier, the songs go deeper and open up in unexpected, textured, delightful ways — at one point Adam Levine was playing bongo drums, as part of an extended drum instrumental I could have listened to for an hour. Also, Levine’s voice seems more falsetto live — and he really does sing live, which is refreshing. That, and their choice of an opening band like The Hives*, makes me suspect that they’re kind of cooler and more artistically interesting than their mainstream success, and the more milquetoast-mainstream flavor of their CDs (at least when compared to those performances), would seem to indicate, at least to an audience like the LA audience that filled that huge stadium tonight. “This is my hometown and I know how you LA audiences are,” Levine chided the crowd. Levine seems very aware of where his band sits in the Musical Coolness Hierarchy — or rather, where it doesn’t — that his band sold-out a massive stadium to fans that include the kind of fans who won’t admit to being fans of a band like Maroon 5. “You think you’re too cool for school. C’mon, L.A., don’t be too cool for school….” He also referred to the “Hollywood shitholes” they used to play in when they were still paying their dues. A manufactured boyband they are not, even if Levine does come off at times like a hotter, dirtier, more thinking woman’s Justin Timberlake (the kind of JT that JT himself is trying so hard to be).
And Levine is just hot. He’s not tall, and he’s actually not that great-looking — of the three male singers fronting the bands*** on that stage tonight, he was the least conventionally handsome, and yet in terms of raw sexual magnetism the other two frontmen, despite being hotties themselves, couldn’t touch him. He reminds me of something Cher once said in an interview about how basically you’re either just born with that kind of sex appeal, or you’re not, and if you’ve got it, you know it (and when the interviewer pressed her on whether or not she had it, she tried to sidestep an answer before finally admitting, “Yes! Okay! I have it!”). Levine has it, and he knows it, and he’s been that way even before he got famous, or at least according to a friend of mine who went to high school with him. She wanted to sleep with him, she said, but never got the chance, “because he was too busy sleeping with all of my friends.”
* I love the Hives, went to see them just as much as Maroon 5 — in fact, arranged separate transportation from my husband who has a habit of getting so consumed with work he generally turns up late at anything social-life related — because that was an opening band that I did not want to risk missing. And they were easily, easily worth showing up early to a half-empty stadium and sitting in a still-abandoned row of seats.
** As far as singer-audience banter goes, my favorite line of all time has to be when Billy Corgan told the audience, “Don’t get me wrong, I do love you…just in a leave-me-alone kind of way.” How very Gen X of him to say that, and of me to get such a kick out of it.
*** The opening opening band was a local group called Phantom Planet, or something. They were good, and I even left my seat between acts to try and buy their CD, only to be frightened away by the crush of adolescent girls.