Saturday, August 21, 2010

I Have Seen The Future Of Rock And Roll...

It was after lunch. I had fish 'n' chips and a couple of scotches. We wandered across the street, to the giant flat City Hall plaza at Government Center. The bustle of the crowd on a breezy, cool summer day was intoxicating... or maybe it was the scotch.

After several minutes of wandering around the so called "Green Fest" aimlessly, while my traveling companions searched for free loot to fill their outstretched arms, we stumbled across them. They played their songs to an open area, full of a dozen folding chairs and a smattering of hula hoops, which were strewn about the concrete, being picked up by children and hurled around by surly teens. it was a motley crew on stage.. on the riser in back was a young drummer - and when I say young, I mean under 16 - and a keyboardist... head down, determined, fleet-fingered, and inaudible. And she was probably over 70 years old. Up front was the real draw.

To the left side was a singer with a tambourine playing only 16th notes over every moment... loosely in rhythm, louder than the sky ripping in half. How he managed to mic his tambourine while lifting his arms above his head to do that 'Magilla Gorilla with the DTs' "dance" is beyond me. I can only aspire.

To the right was a guitarist, gamely playing away while trying to man the soundboard at the same time. He'd seemed to make only one miscalculation in all the excitement, turning his chorus all the way up and his reverb all the way down... it was like getting punched in the face by 1980s Top 40 radio.

In the middle was a female singer. Looks shouldn't enter the equation when it comes to talent, and thank goodness she didn't have any. Of either. She sang from pages on one of those cheap silver music stands like I had in middle school band... her note pages blowing in the breeze.

Why did she need the note pages? Because these weren't just any songs they were singing... no, no, no... in the spirit of the Green Fest, these weren't simply SONGS.. they were standards you know, but with the lyrics (GET THIS!) reflecting the importance of the environment. Suddenly, I felt my hands float upward, taking my limp arms with them... because now I finally knew the meaning of the term "heavy handed". Over the din, I could make out snippets of a playlist assembled only by a madman... and just after they wrapped up what I can only describe as an experimental, avant/free-form version of Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright", I knew from the second the falsetto began. Echoing in my swirling head, I could just make out the words... "In the jungle, the mighty jungle... the lion is going extinct...."

I was transported. I still don't know to where.

Now, for all the accusations leveled at me about being a music snob, I still claim innocence. There may have been a time, yes. But I enjoy music from all walks of life. I have more guilty pleasures than I can count, and firmly believe that if someone truly loves something I abhor, that's wonderful... good for them for finding something that they love. I might not see eye to eye with that person, but never will I say that someone shouldn't enjoy something they love as long as it's not harmful to anyone. I might knock the music as an opinion, but that's my opinion for my little sphere. And the courage it takes for people to stand up in front of a crowd -ESPECIALLY an indifferent one - is an act of bravery. Putting yourself out there in front of a large group and displaying a skill of some kind is terrifying for most average people - I know it is for me. So I applaud their effort and courage and wish them the best in the future.

It was a dizzying combination of sight, sound, and intent in front of me blaring out of that tent. That said, they were easily the second worst band I've ever seen.

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