Monday, May 4, 2009

Tibetan Freedom Concert - Part I

If I had to point to one moment in time when the complete irony of my attempts to become hip unfolded, it would be this day. 
My memory is just a tad cloudy, but I believe that by this time I had moved into my friend Greg’s house, which was a terrifyingly dilapidated farm house on the outskirts of Montgomery County….in some strange no man’s land between Olney and Laurel.
(If I was living at Greg's, that meant that I was quickly entering into one of the most exhilarating times in my life. Greg had defected from the Queegs and brought me with him. He then proceeded to move me into his house of horrors, where the two of us could practice all hours of the night as he wrote songs and plotted his next project: an exceptionally loud and noisy punk-pop outfit that would go on to become the Patsies....this minor act of betrayal nearly cost me the friendship of Queegs front man, Matt Reidl, and to this day I consider it to be a testament to his character that we are still close, despite my impulsive decision to ditch his band in favor of a tone-deaf song writer's odd Frankenstein of a band. Friendships have been sacrificed over less).

Anyway, it was kind of a big deal that the Tibetan Freedom concert would be in D.C. that year. Typically this event took place in San Francisco or NYC, but here it was at RFK Stadium: two full days of bands running the gamut across just about every single type of popular music from the mid-to-late 1990s.
All my friends were going to this event, and I definitely wanted to get in on the fun.
But the fact is that I’m not exactly a fan of festival concerts. I don’t like standing around in the heat with no shade to be found. I don’t like getting clipped $5 for bottled water. And I don’t like getting kicked in the head by crowd surfers (because, as my tall friend, Phil, puts it, if you’re over 6 feet tall and you’re in front of the stage, you’re just a speed bump).
The idea of two days of stadium festival madness wasn’t really my idea of fun, so I figured I’d just eyeball the line-ups for each day and decide which one was more to my liking.
I have to admit, this made for a pretty difficult choice. The event organizers had done a ridiculously wonderful job balancing each day’s performers so that there was something for everyone on each day. (Of course, this also meant that there was an awful lot of mid-90’s turd-rock on each day as well – more on that shortly).
My decision was to go with Saturday. That would allow me Sunday to recover from the intense sunburn I was undoubtedly going to experience from standing on the RFK field all afternoon.
If I remember correctly, I thought it would be cool to see Beck, and I thought it might be kind of neat to finally see REM, since I knew I’d never actually go to one of their concerts. And more than anything else, I desperately wanted to see Sonic Youth.
(See, this is key……when a kid raised on classic rock and heavy metal joins a punk band, moves into a scary group house and goes to see Sonic Youth, I like to think that he has finally emerged from his cocoon of bad taste, and arrived at the full-fledged mothdom of hipseterism).
Of course, like pretty much all of my plans to be seen as anything other than a dork, this was doomed to fail. It all started with the dumb decision to only purchase a ticket for the first day, but, of course, things got considerably worse from there.
To be continued....

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