Voodoo Experience 2009--Day 3
Written by Justin Burnell
Monday, 02 November 2009 19:31
The front gate is packed, but when I get through and into the park, I don’t think the crowd is any bigger. It seems everyone is still running a little off after Halloween. A few people I pass are still wearing zombie make-up from yesterday.
The Pogues are lead by Spider Stacy for the first two songs. People in the audience seem confused, but go with it. Someone asks if that is Shane MacGowan singing. A man wearing a baseball cap says he doesn’t know. Another man who is dancing, kicking his legs in the air, and either wearing a towel as a dress or a sarong, answers, no, that’s Spider.
Shane gingerly walks from the side stage. The crowd screams his name. Spider Stacy sees him and says, “It’s about fuckin’ time.” McGowan is pasty. He is the color of paste; of dead pickled things. Shane stumbles and braces himself with the mic stand. He sees Spider, reaches out, and snatches his sunglasses from his face. The people watching are silent as Spider wrenches the glasses from Shane’s hands and curses him. His face twisted with disgust he walks off stage.
The Pogues go into a song, momentarily killing the awkwardness. It comes back immediately when Shane begins to sing. Now everyone is sure that he is very drunk. He mumbles through a song, occasionally belching into the microphone. The crowd laughs. He staggers and sways out of time. He pushes over the mic stand and laughs at it like a child giggles after throwing his spoon to the floor.
After a couple songs, Spider comes back on stage. He takes his place a few feet from Shane. Shane says something to him. Spider turns and spits at Shane’s feet.
Shane and Spider trade off songs. Shane goes backstage when he’s not singing and comes back more drunk each time. Near the end of the set he comes back after refusing to sing, “Dirty ol’ Town.” A roadie brings him a stool to sit on. For the rest of the set he sits there sometimes looking confused, at others looking completely aware of things. Both are heartbreaking. A man behind me says this is hard to watch. I nod my head. The band members take turns watching Shane sit there. One shakes his head. Spider and the guitarist share grave looks.
The show ends and the band is quickly off the stage. Shane lingers. A man in a black on black suit takes him by the arm and tries to bring him offstage. Shane shakes him off. He tries to talk into the mic, but it’s dead. He looks hurt and upset, as if he realizes that people don’t trust him. The crowd begins to chant, “turn on the mic.” Shane smiles and tries to talk into it again. Finally, the man in the suit tells Shane, “That’s enough.” And gets him to walk to the side stage. Shane staggers to a woman who looks to be in her late 40’s. She pats him on the arm. He embraces her and lets his head collapse on her shoulder.
The Roots of Music begin marching. The kids—aged from 8 to 13—glare nervously around as the march starts. People follow with picket signs that say, “Vote for Derrick Tabb for CNN Hero of the Year.” The band never fails to impress. They could compete with most high school marching bands in the country.
A white man wearing a Dartmouth sweatshirt hustles alongside the band passing out slips of paper that explain how one can vote for Tabb. He smiles and talks excitedly about Tabb when asked. “Just imagine what these kids will do,” he says to a middle aged women taking pictures of the band.
The band has perfected the creation of atmosphere. The music starts off light and happy with confetti cannons shooting at the beginning of the chorus. Yellow and red balloons are thrown out to be bounced around. The crowd screams and sounds overjoyed. A twenty-something couple a few rows up stands together. The guy wraps his hands around her stomach. The confetti is still floating down as she turns her head back and smiles. He leans down and kisses her as Wayne Coyne sings about defeating evil robots.
The band closes with “Do You Realize.” People are crying. A group of three girls turn and hug each other. Two of them wish the third a happy birthday. She hugs the both of them again. The confetti cannons go off through the last half of the song. As the band leaves the stage many people rush away to get to the second stage for Lenny Kravitz, but a good portion lingers, hanging there, in that warm moment for just a little longer.
Lenny Kravitz is pulling a huge crowd, but at least two hundred people would rather stand in the Bingo! tent and relive the 90’s with The Meat Puppets. They play as tight as the other bands that have played from that era this weekend, but do so with much more energy. One might be moved to say that they seemed to do it for love over money.
Most of the crowd nods and hold the hands in the air, but four kids in the front are convinced it is still 1993. An early twenty-something has a hoodie tied around his waist. His hair is stringy and heavy with grease. He pounds his fist in the air and dances like Eddie Vedder. The three girls in front of him make him look calm. The are screaming and shaking their heads. Their hair spins and flips into each other’s faces. They are repeatedly told that they are not to climb on the metal barrier. They do not listen. They get down, but half way through the next song they are on it again. The security guard finally gives up and stops telling them.
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