The very old and the very new
There’s generation-bound artists, and there’s living legends. Often I will hear a record at my parents’ place and my father would yell out the artist and tear up with nostalgia, while I go "Who, again?"
But ever so often my father put on something and I, my sister, my sister’s boyfriend, my children and my grandchildren all know who that is, and which song is playing.
Those living legends can go two ways today. The first is the path walked by Bob Dylan, who I got to see in Antwerp after building his set. The crowd, most of them retired, stood there swaying and moved to tears, worshipping their near-death god who represents half of their youth and everything that happened to them back then.
I, as a new-school youth brought up on pop music, I too was moved to tears. To see this old man, this has-been, unable to hold a note, do his act like a clown in a circus. He couldn’t even tell you the meaning of his lyrics anymore, if he cared to.
The alternate way to step, is Joe Cocker’s way. This obese, balding man is a god to many generations. Though he is deeply rooted in blues and jazz, a genre not exactly popular with youngsters, we all know and respect him deeply. Little more than a cover artist, he manages a name for himself that souls of every age are moved by.
Not very different from ol’ Bob, you could state. You would be right, but for a vital detail that is, I believe, the main -if not the only one- cause of the difference in popularity between the titans.
Bob Dylan was. Joe Cocker, is.
Things were essentially identical between the two live gigs. In both cases, an old, frail man stepped on the stage and the crowd went into a purplish daze, dipped in nostalgia like fruit cake in ketchup.
But when Joe Cocker opened his mouth, all witnesses present were tipped over like a cart on a roller coaster, having reached the peak in a calm, almost relaxing fashion and now bulleting down the slope. Screams, goose bumps, tears, and butterflies, Sweet Maynard, butterflies.
If you would have been there, you would understand my bold claim that their live gig keeps your godly status up, or drops it like a brick. This man still had it: A voice of power, melody and emotion. Dancing like a puppet from Team America, he showed us some balls, hairy and manly like you’ve never seen before.
Perhaps his best moment was during his Beatles cover, ‘Little Help From My Friends’. Opening his throat, he let out a primal roar through the music that caused a stain under many a chair. My already deep respect for this artist was topped off to perfection and shall remain that way until the day I die.
Last week I was asked to be show crew for an indoor techno festival here in Gent, called I Love Techno (3 points for originality). From 11 to 5 in the morning, I agreed because you know, work is work and how bad can techno get. My mistake was, however, that I skipped through the night before, so I could sleep during the day and work ’til the morning. Perfect plan, if it weren’t for the fact that I was expected there at 11am. Called out of bed with 3 hours sleep and 2 hours late, I was sort of hanging in the scaffolding as I was told what to do. Good thing I had painkillers on me, because soon enough my poor brain was trying to escape my skull and find itself a bed. Along with an infecting toe and a tooth ache, it could have killed a horse but not a roadie.
I had seen techno parties before, but nothing like this one. The kind of situations you usually see on TV during Fuckfest or the City Parade in Germany: someone snorting in the corner, people passed out and carried away before the music even started, guys sexing you up,… the works.
Looking for a friend I knew would be there, I went outside several times in search of her. Each time I was met by a couple girls asking to open a door somewhere, promising all sorts of rewards.
Now call me sexist, weak, pathetic, I really can’t help it. Girls, you just don’t know what kind of effect you have on us. Honestly, there’s something that just lodges into your brain, makes you do all sorts of retarded things that you quickly regret afterwards because it wasn’t manly enough.
What are we supposed to do, when a stunningly beautiful girl steps up to you and asks in English, with a Spanish accent, "Can you get us in please? Open a door for us maybe? I will pay you 500 euros." All the while staring at you with Huge Bambi eyes and a pout.
The thing that first comes up to you is "Yes. Yes. I will give you a ticket, I will steal one, I slice my wrist for lubrication to get my wristband off and give it to you, if you would just tie me up and have me for breakfast." I truly am sorry, no matter how sweet and caring your husband is, unless he is gay this is the first thing that pops into his dirty mind.
Of course what I Said was, "I’m very sorry, there is security everywhere and I risk my job even talking to you." After a few more apologies I fucked off, regretting that I didn’t handle it in a more manly way. But hey, she didn’t have anything to offer, that I don’t have already anyway.
Thus is the curse resting upon those who work backstage. Or the blessing, depending on how active your conscience is.
"Hey Maarten. It’s not a problem that you can only do the load-in, they are very satisfied with you and they want only you, they don’t even want a replacement for the load-out, that is always nice to hear, a big thank you, greets [my boss]"
This kind of text messages give me morning wood. There’s nothing like some appreciation for your work, so this kind of praise is appreciated all the more.