Having missed my chance to see Dead Can Dance in 1990, I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity when they finally came back to the states for another tour in 1996. A lot about Dead Can Dance had changed in the intervening years, or at least a lot of my perception of them had changed. The old DCD records always seemed firmly planted in the romantic goth world, but with their later efforts, they were clearly trying to play up their world music and folk music inspirations and shift away from the batcave crowd. They might have picked a better name if they really didn't want to be pigeonholed!
We had to drive to Plant City to get in line for tickets because we were pretty sure that this show would sell out. Somehow we figured that a Plant City Ticketmaster would be a better option than the one in Brandon or somewhere else that might have a bigger contingent of DCD fans. Little did we know that Alanis Morrissette tickets were going on sale the same morning, so despite driving to Plant City early in the morning and waiting outside of Specs there, we wound up getting pretty crappy seats because we were about 10 people back in line of folks looking for Alanis Morrissette and sporting event tickets.
The closest that DCD was going to play to Tampa was Miami, and having never been to Miami, I figured that this would be a good excuse to go. We made the long trek through swampy southern Florida and wound up in one of the parts of Miami that seems to be reserved for fashion models and club promoters. As soon as we parked the car, an impossibly-built woman wearing a "dress" that was essentially a white fishing net with nothing on underneath strolled by. OK, you didn't see that every day in Tampa! We walked around and saw the shops selling sludgy Cuban coffee and we finally ducked into a clothing boutique that had skater jeans and hoodies and Fluevog shoes and that sort of thing. I looked at some JNCO jeans that were cut an extra 12" too long in the leg and commented that it was silly to put some embroidery at the bottom of the pant leg that would obviously have to be rolled up to avoid being stepped on. I don't know if it was this comment or just the fact that we weren't part of the South Beach elite, but the guy running the shop made his contempt for me fairly obvious. I bought something just to spite him and we were off.
We got to the show at a posh theater and noticed right away that they were not selling t-shirts. I had heard this was the case and I got a kick out of the merchandise guy who had to repeat the line over and over that "Dead Can Dance has never sold t-shirts at their performances," which was all kinds of pretentious. The statement was made all the more amusing by the fact that the guy was saying this to mostly gothy girls ALREADY WEARING DCD t-shirts! I believe that the band doesn't produce shirts, but really, who do you think you are that you are too good for t-shirts? I picked up a poster and a program and we were off to find our seats.
As luck would have it, we were up in the balcony which afforded a great view of the stage. I was also happy to see that sitting just 3 or 4 rows in front of us was the clerk from the skate-jeans store who looked back and saw us and smirked that he had 3-rows better seats. For all of his obvious looking down his nose at me, I couldn't help but think that it was funny that he worked in a store that we shopped at and we were both going to the same show, and yet he still seemed to feel like we weren't quite cool enough to be in his space.
The show was amazing, but it was also amazingly familiar. Having seen the Toward the Within concert film half a dozen times, every note and every turn in the show was something that I'd already seen. I got a great kick out of watching everyone play instruments live and I found that watching the band pull the music together was a lot more interesting than watching the group's two stars sing. I got a little choked up at one point when Lisa Gerrard kicked into ethereal vocal overdrive, and then without much fanfare, it was over.