irony of sympathy
Local council elections are coming soon, the hysteria has already started. Will the "Vlaams Blok", those extreme right-wing fuckwads, have gained more votes? Those idiots seem to multiply like rabbits. Not too surprising, since they’re the only party bothering to spread pamphlets and propaganda filled with lies.
Back in July, at Rock Werchter, Tom Barman, the lead singer of dEUS, announced something unseen in Belgium. On October first, shortly before elections, he would organise a concert "Against the ‘Vlaams Blok’. Against intolerance. Because some things have to come to an end." He made a big mistake there: he included his political opinion. He later took those words back, as this concert, with the help of other artists, became a festival with stages in Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Charleroi. It became a festival for tolerance.
At first, I was very sceptic. Let’s be honest, will dancing and singing about tolerance actually change anything? It reminded me of Bono’s spewings and the Live Aid concerts. God were these a waste of time and money, they didn’t change Jack Shit. If a president has Bono over for tea, it’s not because he’s willing to let Bono pursuade him, but because he wants to make it look that way to gain popularity. Why the fuck am I even telling this? It’s so obvious, it makes my ass itch.
But there’s a big difference. It’s not a matter of trying to change the opinion of anyone. We’re not trying to get the government to realize "oh no! There’s aggression between our citizens! We must act!" like Bono hurled at us. Both initiatives were for charity, but that doesn’t mean they have the same purpose.
01/10 is, as its name would lead you to think, about tolerance. Now tell me, what better way to encourage tolerance, is to bring people together and do stuff? Since this is an anti-racism event, you could find all colors skin there. All four concerts were entirely free, and the turn-up was beyond any expectations, even of the organizers.
I remember very clearly why I love music festivals. You have a large, peaceful-anarchistic group of people together, like-minded, there for the same purpose. You join conversations you have no business with, you help others out, you’are all bonded by the same love, in this case music. Personally, I don’t think any other event could have been so successful as this.
With no ticket price, and astronomic costs (those stages don’t pay for themselves, mind you), organizers had to cut down on expenses as much as possible. One of the most drastic decisions was to work with volunteers as stagehands only. But it’s still a big-ass stage, so they needed for them to have Some experience at all. You can see this coming half the States away: "Hello Maarten, mind working for free this weekend?" After some concideration, I agreed to it, despite some colleagues of mine declaring me crazy. I didn’t care, the thought of being able to contribute to the cause with something I’m good at, made up my mind.
There were a surprisingly lot of co-workers present. I think there was about 8 of us in total, not counting other companies. That is quite a few. The concert was sponsored by Holiday Inn, so even though it was in Ghent, a 20 minute drive away by bike, we all crashed at a 4-star hotel, inviting our girlfriends over. Yay for "raped by a stranger in a hotel room" fantasies. Don’t say you wouldn’t.
We could have used more sleep though, because the next day we had change-overs all day long (good side is, you get to watch all bands up close) with the load-out taking until 3 in the morning. After everyone left, both paid crew and volunteers, the only ones left were the RoadRunners, stacking Hexatiles and heavy ass crash barriers. Once in a while, I’m damn proud to be one of them. Not at the time, of course. I just wanted to fucking go home.