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Rock The Bells – Randall’s Island NYC

July 30, 2007

Let’s take a small break from scale modeling.

On July 28th I went to the Rock The Bells festival here in NYC, to see the band I was waiting to see since 1993, Rage Against the Machine. My feelings about it are varied so I decided to break it into sections, although the purpose of this writing is unclear I guess I am just doing it to vent (and work is slow):

1. VIP: I purchased the tickets on pre-sale from Ticketmaster back in April. The picture they always have of the layout clearly showed a VIP section in front of the stage and a General Admission behind, so I went ahead and spent $156 on the VIP ticket. Surprise surprise when I got there on Saturday and found that such a section didn’t exist!! Talk about rip offs, there was some VIP section behind the stage, where you couldn’t see a thing, and some lounge that was air conditioned with a guy playing rap music (yes I know the festival is a hip hop event, I was there for Rage, let’s be honest, 90% of the people were there for that) . The “VIP package” included getting a backpack and a t-shirt, the most expensive I’ll ever own. Bottom line is I paid more money to wrestle my way to the front with everyone else. I wrote Guerrilla Union, organizers of the show, about this issue but no reply yet (note: I am not expecting one).

2. The Crowd: I’ve never been a crowd person. Coming from the hardcore/punk scene means that to me 1000 people is a huge show, there was at least 20 thousand people there, I don’t even know the numbers, so to me this was chaotic. The problem with crowds is that for some reason the human being loses the ability to think when grouped in large numbers, especially when most people are half drunk or high. The pushing to get to the front was just idiotic. If you got there late, well sucks for you, but why try to push all the way to the front when it is obviously packed?, now multiply this attitude by 20 thousand and it is bad enough for people to get hurt, pass out (the heat was insane) and so on. Well done, you managed to ruin the show for a lot of people. A particular 3 or 4 guys come to mind, counting to three and pushing people away just to get to the front.

On another note, the demographics were interesting. I think that most of the crowd was white kids under 20 from the suburbs that were in diapers when RATM started playing, nothing wrong with that, just interesting. Someone asked me how old I was, I said 28 and the guy was like wow (on a side note, he tried to be nice saying that I didn’t look like it). Funny and interesting fact: The guy Immortal Technique got on the stage and someone from his entourage asked “where are the people from Harlem?” The place was silent. I think he later joked about “where are the people from Jersey” and the place almost exploded. I guess you know you are a successful rapper when you play at a show the people from your own neighborhood can’t afford to attend.

3. RATM: It is hard for me to tell how influential RATM was to me. Back in 93 I got a tape with their first CD and later I got the CD itself. I can’t deny that it was partly those lyrics that influenced the way I think today, yes the music is good, but the lyrics are what make it what it is. It is partly because of those lyrics that I became aware of what happens around me, I got interested in political and social justice issues, which in a way lead me to be involved in animal rights, one of the biggest things I’ve ever done. I thought that I’d be insanely excited about seeing them live, and although it was great and I don’t regret it at all, I guess I am not a fan of “them” but a fan of their words and what they mean to me. I found myself not even looking at the stage but closing my eyes and enjoying those words that speak about resistance. During the years before I saw them live I always defended their position, basically fueling the machine they despise in order to reach more people, aka “working within the system”, but I don’t think I can do it anymore. Out of the thousands of people there, those of us that took those words and did something about an issue are in the minority. I couldn’t help but think about lines from songs that say “buying all the products that they are selling ya” (from Bullet in the head) and contemplate at the long lines at the merchandise booth. Or think about the Guerrilla Radio video where people turn into mannequins and look at the people that just looked like a walking ad for an sports company. No, I don’t live in the woods or grow my own food, I work and pay rent and I am part of that machine too, but I do try to minimize the contradiction I live in, I try to do something (which is more than what 99% of the population does), I think about the things a song is saying, no matter who plays that song and I think that is the way RATM was hoping things would be, sadly that’s not the case.

Only one thing bothered me about RATM directly, they stopped playing only to come back after people started cheering and claiming for them to come back out. This was totally staged, as they walked out without saying a word. I guess this was disappointing, all this time I thought RATM was doing this for the sake of the issues they believe in, not to be rock stars cheered by thousands of people who don’t give a rat’s ass about what happens in Chiapas, Washington or their own neighborhood for that matter. If you are going to play, play, don’t put on a show for the crowd, then you are nothing but another U2.

Enough ranting and venting. Now let’s go back to model building (and changing the world).

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 31, 2007 1:22 pm

    Rock concerts are tough. I’ve been to shows that became very violent, I’ve been to some that were very sedate. The moshing, IMO, really ruins the fun of the show. How can you enjoy the music when people are trampling you?

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