What better motivation is there to get back into writing, then to complain about a bad experience at a music venue? I guess it would be better to talk about a great experience, but that doesn't ignite a fire in me to write and it probably isn't as interesting for the reader either. Well, I've taken a little break from writing, as I've concentrated more on photography lately. And life... You could say that life has distracted me, as I have been involved in so many things lately. But I've been meaning to get back into writing as festival season is approaching, so here is my first music related article of 2018. And now I call myself a critic.
The Mohegan Sun Wolf Den disappoints! This 300 seat concert hall in the middle of a casino boasts FREE shows, full bar and highest quality sound system and entertainers. For a venue that is known for free shows, it must be good. Right?
I've been wanting to see the Lowell, MA band PVRIS for about a year and a half. But they don't play many shows, and when they are playing near me, I just haven't been able to catch them. So when I got a Bandsintown app alert last week that they were playing a free show at Mohegan Sun, I had to click “interested”.
In the end, when it came down to it on the night of the show, I chose to forgo some of the closer options that I was interested in, for the experience of seeing a free show at Mohegan. It was about a two hour drive each direction.
I couldn't find much information about the show. No Facebook event setup, not much detail written on Mohegan's website. Not even much could be found about The Wolf Den. All I knew was that it is first come first serve for seats. Because PVRIS tweeted that. This is where The Wolf Den or Mohegan could really set themselves up for success. Or at least show that they care. Setup a Facebook event! Tell us what we can and can't expect when we arrive. Or the other people interested in the event can tell each other there.
As I was driving, it started pouring rain. This bothered me because my wife told me to wear a coat. But I told her that I hate wearing coats at shows. During the drive, I was thinking that a coat would've come in handy to put my camera under, as I walk from the parking lot. But lucky for me that my GPS started sending me to the "Indian Summer" garage. This turned out to be about a three minute walk to The Wolf Den, all while never having to be exposed to the elements outside. Maybe their website should tell you to park in this garage?
After finding The Wolf Den on their map and realizing how lucky I was to be near it already, I started making my way there. I felt a little awkward carrying a camera through a casino, as I had once been scolded by security for taking a selfie in a Massachusetts slot parlor. But I get through their slot area in the Casino of the Earth, and as I approach The Wolf Den, their security asks me for my ID. Another member of the security team points out to me that professional camera equipment is not allowed. I thought I would ask if I could get a ticket, before I take the camera back to my car. But the guy asking for my ID started getting really confused and chippy with me, as he said they don't give tickets to enter. I moved on and I brought my camera back to the car and a few minutes later I was showing him my ID.
Then I'm walking forward and I see two hostesses looking like they want to take me to a table. I said, I'm fine, I will just stand in front of the stage. At this time, one of the hostesses says they don't have any table reservations left, while the other hostess is looking for an available seat on their chart. I said I will just stand. They seemed to have a difficult time explaining to me that my choice was take a seat or leave. The friendliness and communication skills of the staff are seriously lacking. It would've been nice if the website explained that you have to reserve a table to get a wristband, allowing access to the floor in front of the stage.
So I accept a seat and I get walked to the second row, far left. Not too bad at first glance. Seat 3 of 6 was open, but the sightline of the band from my spot was less than desirable. I held out hope that at least everyone would stand when the music started playing.
A recording plays where they brag about what bands have performed here in the past. Gin Blossoms, Eddie Money, Salt-N-Pepa, etc. Artists were saying how this was one of the best venues they had ever played in. I looked around, while the design is aesthetically pleasing, I just found those claims hard to believe. I mean people are being forced to sit, when they have room to stand more in front of the stage.
A waitress came around to take drink orders. Offering full beverage service, I thought I would ask what IPAs they have. The waitress shot back, "Only Harpoon." I ordered that beer and she returned saying $7. I handed her a $10 bill and asked for $2 back. She walked away and I had a sinking feeling she wasn't planning on giving me my change. I never saw her again.
The show started promptly at 8pm. Nobody stood up to enjoy it properly and I was relegated to sitting in my crowded seat next to people that didn't seem to care if they were there or not, when all I could see was PVRIS fans having a great time in front of the band. That and the PVRIS sound guy with his too tight to pull over the buttocks skinny jeans, was right in my line of sight the entire show. It was very distracting, in a not so pleasant way. And to top it off, someone in that crowd was taking pictures using a camera similar to mine!
Now to their claim about the highest quality sound system. Well, the lack of acoustics may be to blame. The place was so wide open that the audio must've been flying right by me. I could barely hear the singing. I even pulled my earplugs out briefly to see if it would help. Not so much. I have to disagree that The Wolf Den sound is of the highest quality. Maybe if I had known to make a table reservation and I had been standing in front of the stage, the sound would be good? But I was close enough that I should've been able to hear better from where I was.
The show ended after exactly one hour. And someone promptly came on the intercom to tell us that they are closed and we had to leave. Everything was a disappointment except the parking. I'd love to give PVRIS another chance someday, but I wasn't left with any feeling that they are worth purchasing a ticket for. And I can't imagine going to The Wolf Den again. If I do, you better believe I will be reserving a table.
About the author: In addition to Vokuhila, LLC, Jesse L. Medford is the Owner/Producer/Investor of a few festivals and festival related businesses, as well as a member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard. He also has a full-time telecommunications management job, volunteers with a few charities and owns a handful of other businesses. Jesse lives in Lakeville, MA with his wife and two teenage children.
Jesse has a passion for the music industry. He worked at his first concert in 1999 at Marilyn Manson's Beautiful Monsters Tour. Jesse holds a Bachelor of Science in Management from Bridgewater State University.