I absolutely agree that the entire Wolf Den experience is an insult to the fan of anyone who would play there. Who wants to stand in line for a minimum of an hour, in order to be seated in some cheezy lounge, where one then has to sit and pay exhorbatant prices for watered down drinks for another 1.5 hours 'til the show starts? What, no takers?
Add to that the aforementioned concept of reserved tables down front for tribal members and "high rollers." What this translated into was the life being sucked out of the first half of the show. Here you've got TR absolutely going nuts on his leads, standing on the lip of the stage, while looking down at some huge guy who is sound asleep through 3/4 of the show. Kas, broken foot and all was more animated and mobile than this human mound of clay. The band was indeed hot, and they were playing their hearts out, but the effect was largely like playing to an empty room. Which prompted Todd's well considered suggestion that these boneheads make an exit so that people who really care about the show could get in. We were in a booth at the back of the floor on the side, (thank you Roy and Carol) and at the table in front of us was some guy who looked like Grandpa Munster in a pale blue polyester sport coat (oops, a fashion report) who just sat and shook his head in disbelief as if to say, "I don't understand these long-haired whipper snappers." Probably melted his Belltone. (Although he did join the boogieing masses in front of the stage for the encores. His participation was a bit unsettling in itself.) Then of course, you also had the janitor who spent the better part of "Frickin' ISP" waving his mop handle back and forth in front of center stage until some guy who cared grabbed a towel out of his bag of janitorial tricks and got down on his hands an kness and mopped the floor in record time. And forget about the annoying and maddening continual ringing and clanging and jingling from the slot machines. AAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGG!
It was surreal, and embarrasing.
I live 10 minutes away and have never gone to a show there because I feared just this sort of thing. And I will never go back, because my greatest fears were realized. Agreed, after Ikon in particular, things heated up, especially once the lunatics took over the asylum for the encores. Woulda loved to have seen how the show would have improved had this coup occurred at the start of the night. Again, the band was spot on, hearing TR play so much guitar was wonderful. Hearing so many great old Utopia tunes was an unexpected bonus. Ikon, Mystified/Broke Down... were killer. Kas & TR trading vox on "Trapped" great. Guitar on "Buffalo Grass" improved it greatly. Solo on "Yer Fast" had to have melted a few frets. If you get the chance to go see the show, do it. But if yer ever in SE Connecticut, don't waste your time on the Wolf Den, come over to my place and we'll just listen to the stereo, I think I have a mop around here somewhere...