Free tickets to a rock show and I can help save the world? Sign me up! The Global Citizen Festy blew through NYC's Great Lawn on Saturday night, bringing with it some stellar musical acts, and some mandatory Celebutantes. Free tickets were issued via a really clever lottery system- users had to login to the Festival's website and earn "points" by watching videos, reading materials, signing petitions, and sharing links on social media sites. Or by, "watching videos", "reading materials", "signing petitions", and "sharing links on social media sites". Either way, really clever. A first entry was issued when you earned 3 points (it may have been 1 point just to create a user profile), and you could earn each additional entry by collecting 5 more points. I actually did watch some really interesting and beautifully produced videos on well-digging in poor African villages, gender equality around the world, and nutrition (thrown in there for good-measure and 3 more points) in their entirety. If you actually pay attention to the shitstorm that is reality, none of this is new information-- the good folks at Global Citizen are just trying to (Step 1) spread awareness of these seemingly insurmountable issues and educate people about the existing and sometimes easily implementable solutions to many of these major problems, (Step 2) throw a Music Festival, and eventually (Step 3) Save the World. It's based on the Underpants Gnome business model: Steal Underpants -> ? -> Profit! I have a Degree in this Horribly Depressing Shit, and there's a reason I chose to work in TV instead (what was I thinking?? Global Poverty = Job Security!!!)-- because these issues are in fact Horribly Depressing Shit and we're pretty much doomed, BUT, maybe this was my chance to pitch back in, by doing what I do best: ROCKING OUT.
This was my first show on the Great Lawn and I was forewarned-- in addition to splitting the park East/West (once you enter through the East or West gate, you're stuck on that side of the Lawn), they section the lawn off into various "Pens" as people file in (I believe there were 8 "Pens" total, for 60k people = 7500/Pen*). It's smart for crowd control, but shitty if you want to find your friends that got there 3 hours ahead of you. The Joyhams came down from the North Country and showed up before 2PM, found parking, and were sequestered into Pen #1 on the West Side. We were lazy, took our time in el Barrio, and got to the East Gate a little before 5:20PM. Then, it was a good 15-20 minute hike into the park (Band of Horses serenaded us in) before we finally got our tickets scanned and were enclosed into the back of Pen # 4. We were Center Court. It would have been nicer to be closer to the stage, but not getting there super early was also nice, and we didn't have to fight any crowds where we were, so it was all cool. Besides, there were plenty of monitors showing Band of Horses being totally mellow, spacey, and groovy. In-between sets, those same monitors showed dramatic out-of-focus solar-flared shots of infant hands reaching into the abyss as educational videos directed our attention to the important issues at hand. Oh yah, I had almost forgotten the message of the day!
Corralled into Pen #4
Wait, what was the message of the day? I decided to take the opportunity to go pee, which is when I saw the horrendous lines for food/beverages and the port-a-potties. There were at least 300+ people on line for food that was being sold at one stand, and there were at least 200 people converging on 16 or so bathrooms. Such long waits for food, water, and the bathrooms-- so inconvenient. Wait a second, was this to teach us some sort of sick lesson? Ohh, Global Citizen-- now I get it! Now, I can finally relate!
I spent a good 30 minutes in line to pee, 20 minutes of which I got to listen to the Black Keys play their Loud Dirty Fucking Guitar Blues Rock. Their chemistry is phenomenal. At least I could hear it loud and clear.
I also decided to try and find a water-bottle refilling station, as the tickets plainly stated that we could bring in empty water bottles with tops, but not factory sealed water bottles. I inquired with some very nice Staffers and NYPD, but there were no refillable water-bottle stations in our assigned Pen. In fact, the only refillable water-bottle station was way back at the entrance to the East Gate, which we had walked past on our hike in-- but we were not allowed to go back to it now, even to refill some water-bottles. No-- the only place to get water within the Pen, was the aforementioned food vendor with the 300+ person line. Walking barefoot for a mile in the jungle while being stalked by Jaguars/Poachers/Rapists and contracting Malaria would have taken considerably less time.
Strangely, I happened to walk over to the recycling bin to toss my now useless empty water bottle into, and spied an entire case of water sitting on the ground next to it. This water was probably for Staffers, but as the rules of ethics go, it was fair game for dehydrated people like myself. So I grabbed one before bolting back to the Lawn to enjoy the rest of the Black Keys' killer set. Because that is how the world really works: Looting.
45 minutes of the Black Keys is a tease, luckily they packed as much punch into their set as possible. This was by far the Best Set of the Day. And as a HUGE bonus, the giant monitors showed a closeup of Ben (one-half of our beloved Joyhams) totally rocking out in his bear-hat for about 10 glorious seconds! Afterwards, Olivia Wilde or some other drunk model/actress (they all look the same to me) came out to talk ernestly about gender equality by reading off a teleprompter-- ehhh... they couldn't get Kristen Schaal? Rachel Maddow?? Someone entertaining?! And then John Legend made a surprise cameo and played John Lennon's Imagine-- cute.
The sun set, and it was time for--- The Foo Fighters! They started things out a bit mellow with Times Like These, and then played a short festival set of their Greatest Hits (no Rope???). And goddamn, I love 'em, but this night, something seemed a bit off with the Foos. Perhaps it was because I was so far from the stage. Or maybe it's because the cool Merry Melodies-like Global Citizen Fest circular stage design was blocking their entire light show and I hadn't noticed that glitch until it got dark out. Or maybe it's because I don't want to hear all their hits, I want to hear all their in-betweens, because that is how they rocked my face off and made such a huge impression the last time I saw them live. Or maybe it was because I was really fucking hungry by now and just wanted some tacos. But... and I can't believe I am saying this. I was kind of disappointed in the Foo's set. My attention span was gone and I wasn't feeling it. And then Dave Grohl announced that they didn't have any more shows planned and this was it for now. People began to speculate about whether or not we had just witnessed The Foo Fighters break up, but I've seen bands "break up" before and play their "last show"-- this felt like neither. My gut tells me they have no more scheduled commitments, and it's hiatus and/or family time for the band. It's doubtful the Foo Fighters would permanently go out on an 8-song-just-the-hits set right after the chick who sucks Justin Bieber's cock gives a speech on behalf of starving children.
During set-change, a substantial chunk of the crowd left. There was also an inspiring presentation about how Polio is almost completely eradicated and how with the proper support, we can end it in this generation. That's pretty fucking cool. Fuck Polio. And that led into Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse's set, which was incredibly appropriate, as we all learned that Neil is actually a Polio survivor.
My first memories of Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse are from my HS Sculptor Teacher, Mr. Martin, aka, "Marty", who was an electric guitar wielding hippie with a shrine to both Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse and Jimi Henrix across the walls of his classroom. I wonder if he was at the show? Neil & the Horse got on and ripped out some distorted, crunchy, shreddy guitar licks, and essentially jammed the fuck out of a beautiful night in Central Park.
I'll be honest, about halfway through his set we couldn't stop thinking about tacos. Prior to this we had been changing Foo Fighters lyrics into lyrics about tacos. "There goes my tacoooo, watch it how it burnnns!" And by now we had begun to do the same thing with Grandpa (mad respeck) Neil. "I want to walk like a ta-co on the laaaa-aaand". It was time to take the message of the festival seriously. We had to take action immediately and stop at least 3 people's (ours) dire starvation, so we (poignantly) headed out of the park on a mission that would only be completed once we reached el Barrio and filled our bellies with nurishing taco-y goodness.
We thought this was a Taco Truck. You can see why we would be confused.
Finally! The Taco Solution!
We did our part to end world hunger (3 people down, 1 billion to go!), and you can too-- please visit Global Citizen to learn about the various ongoing campaigns designed to help find and implement solutions to end extreme poverty (including taco shortages) around the globe.
Global Citizen Festival, 9/29/12, Central Park, NYC: 6.8 HUZZAHS!!
* Not including VIP section, who only represented 1% of the crowd, and of course, 99% of the world's problems.