September 5, 2013

ROADTRIP (I): Once again about the Wall

We have 2 more hours until the train reaches Braşov. Since Chester is busy eating that shitty mcmuffin menu I brought from Bucharest, I’ll just start writing down a few notes about Roger Waters’ show I saw last evening.

Actually, I’m lying. He isn’t eating any mcmuffin crap, but the sandwiches his mom prepared for the road. We’re doing it gonzo style, so expect some more made-up details. Hell, I’m not even in the train as I write this. It’s the second day of the Rockstadt Extreme Fest already. I’m lying in bed, in the room we booked in Râşnov. Last evening I suffered a burst of indigestion. There was diarrhea, fever and puking... but let’s not anticipate.

I arrived on Tuesday in Bucharest, with a quite clear idea on how this review will look like. I could have written it then and there, in my hotel room, even without having seen any footage of The Wall before. I could have written about the nice visuals and the audience’s reaction on 2-3 of the most popular songs on the album. And I could have written about how big an old fart is Roger Waters for playing the same shit for 30 years. And then I would have ended on a “nice, but overrated” note.

Yep, no.7. That's me.

Chester wasn’t lying when he said about half of Romania will attend the show. It took me 20 minutes to get inside the concert area. I got a glass of water for 2$ and went to claim my place in the Golden Ring sector. Don’t take Marcolino too seriously; it was certainly not too close to enjoy the show. He got the DVD experience, us patricians got the real deal. Up close, the Wall was a terrifying beast to see. It wasn’t just a huge ass screen, it stared us down - incomplete for now, but with the promise of future despair. The projections were surprisingly clear and high quality, even watched from this distance. If I’ll ever get the chance to see The Wall again, I’ll sell my other kidney and buy tickets for the front rows again. No regrets.

I won’t tell you much about the show itself. I feel at a loss for words, more so that even the pics and videos I watched after don’t do it justice. It was… something else. Definitely not the usual exhilarating experience when you hear and watch your favorite songs.

The Wall itself is not an enjoyable album - it’s depressing and hits right in the feels of most people (and bores others out of their minds). The trouble is that the anti-system image it gained over the decades tends to obscure the deeper meaning of the album. You know what I'm talking about, everyone is tired of the same generic anti-war, anti-consumerism, anti-totalitarism, anti-capitalism, and so on. It makes you remember that Pink Floyd was one of the most commercially succesful rock bands in music history. And that the concert audience is full of corporate monkeys that tomorrow morning will be back to the Machine. And kids that are taking selfies with the wall in background on their iPhones. I’m not saying I’m a better person myself - right after the concert I’ll probably grab a burger from the McDonalds near the Accor chain hotel where I’m staying for tonight. So, what is the fucking point of seeing The Wall live - this would be a legitimate question. The People’s House will remain intact, facing the ruin on the stage, and we’ll all go home, eventually forgetting everything as we sink back to our day to day tedium.

Yet all these concerns fade away as the magic starts spinning. I expected to see a self-centered musician showing off a hyped-up autobiographical opus-magnus. Instead of that, Roger Waters seems to be a warm, awesome old guy, the kind of grandfatherly figure everyone would wish they had in their lives. The projections on the wall sweep you away; all that filler material on the album begins to make sense now. This is so different than any other concert I’ve attended, that I don’t even know how to react to all that’s happening. Should I contemplate this silently? Would it be appropriate to cheer and clap my hands? Of course that in the end we’re all making noise like a bunch of highschoolers, but I can still feel a hesitation in the air. The audience is much more restrained than at the other concerts I’ve been to.

Naturally, the next day I would look around and see what other people had to say about the show. Most of the reviews were what I expected: brief descriptions of each song performance or special effects, ending with a conclusion which used more or less the same superlatives. In some of the better texts, the reviewers brought up their personal life experiences related in a way or another to the album. It’s strange, but not really surprising, to see in how many different ways could this show be perceived.

A particularily annoying review was written by one of the most famous romanian journalists. Basically, his article can be summed up as this: “hurr durr, Roger Waters and ye younglings have no idea what the true Wall is! Ye’ll never know how it feels to listen to Pink Floyd on pirated magnetophone reels! Dissident Romania strong!”. The Wall ain’t an album about communism or dictatorship, asshole. And even if it was, what would that change? The ‘89 “revolution” was one of the biggest jokes in romanian history, just as laughable as the idea of a romanian “resistance”. This is the same guy who praised in ‘90 the violent repression of the student protest in the University Square. Good job. I hope you’ll play tennis in hell, asshole.

I think everyone should forget the anti-system crap and focus more on what The Wall is about: remembering that you are a human being. There is no true escape, every “revolution” is fated to fail. Pink Floyd (or what’s left of it anyway) are just as much bricks in the wall as the rest of us. But you know what, remembering sometimes where it hurts - and why it hurts - can mean a lot, even if it won’t stop the Machine from its implacable march.

And now, enough with this crap. Make sure you come back for the tales of beer and loathing in Râşnov, at Rockstadt Extreme Fest.

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