The "Live Music in a Movie Theater" Experience

Big-screen broadcast of Goat Rodeo Sessions live proves entertaining, but not as much as the real deal

click to enlarge Goat Rodeo Sessions (Photo: Jeremy Cowart)
Goat Rodeo Sessions (Photo: Jeremy Cowart)

The men of Goat Rodeo Sessions played an entire world tour on Tuesday night. And not once did Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Stuart Duncan or Edgar Meyer let on that they were tired. That might have something to do with the fact that they never left Boston.

Any time a band puts out a new album, the follow-up step is to schedule a tour. With an album as well-received as Goat Rodeo Sessions, the supergroup owed it to their fans to let them hear and see it performed live. But what happens if the album is made by four people with four separate careers? Even a week-long tour might be hard to pull off.

Enter Fathom. Fathom earns money and saves arts lovers hard-earned cash by turning select movie theaters into performance venues. They present both one-time events, like the Goat Rodeo Sessions performance, and also series, like the entire Metropolitan Opera concert season.—-

“Attending” a live performance in a movie theater has its highs and lows, of course. If you’re an introvert, you might enjoy the movie theater vibe. It limits the amount of awkward smalltalk you have to make at a concert venue. Just like before a movie, you’ll be entertained with previews of upcoming broadcasts, but also behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.

Of course, one drawback might be the guy a few seats over who’s munching loudly on popcorn.

Then again, when you’re sitting in a better-than-first-row seat, you’ll soon be too entranced to hear the chomping. Often the downside of seeing a string-quartet is their somewhat closed off half-circle arrangement. They spend more time looking at each other than the crowd. When you’re in the theater, you have the advantage of the multiple cameras on stage. That means you see every quirked eyebrow from Yo-Yo Ma, every shoulder shrug from Edgar Meyer and every mischievous smirk between Chris Thile and Stuart Duncan.

It’s easy to fear that a televised concert will lack the connection a fan can make with a performer when they’re in the same room. If it’s done right, like it was on Tuesday, the difference is minimal. The concert was shown live, with only a minor delay. The performers knew that all across the globe, there were fans in theaters getting chills from each pull of the bow across the fiddle. From their shout-outs to their family members back at home to Chris Thile asking if people in the theaters were clapping, they made sure to recognize that there were concert-goers beyond the confines of Boston’s House of Blues.

Seeing Goat Rodeo Sessions Live certainly didn’t diminish Ma, Thile, Meyer and Duncan’s fans’ desire to see them in person; if anything, it made them want it more. It took a conscious effort not to fill the theater with applause after songs like “Quarter Chicken Dark” and “Here and Heaven.” However, once Thile asked about the clapping, the applause was no longer held back.

If the fans at Regal Deerfield Towne Center were any indication, the concert was a smash.

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