Sometimes to get a point across, one must do something outlandish and borderline ridiculous.
This has got to be the motto for big concert organizers. Why do causes become important when a few bands play or a few celebrities do some PSA’s?
I was so intrigued by the sheer volume of Live Earth’s supposed range that I didn’t want to miss something that potentially could go down as a monumental event in musical history.
That’s the way they were marketing Live Earth, a 24-hour musical event that spanned all seven continents featuring shows in nine different cities from the world’s greatest current pop stars and the older ones that had nothing else to do but rock Hamburg or Sydney.
At the very least, it should be commended for the cause that they were trying to raise money and awareness for. Global warming is a huge issue that needs to be at the forefront of political and social conversation. The fear, however, was whether it would be carried out in a way that would inform the masses without becoming a bad public service announcement or a campy charity drive?
10 a.m.: I start watching with intrigue over morning coffee and some recreational laundry folding. Rihanna, a little Caribbean Beyonce’, sings the token over-played smash of the summer, which is phonetically hypnotizing song about an “Umbrella.” The crowd in Tokyo didn’t have to cross a huge language barrier as all the really needed to know English wise was “Umbrella, Ella, Ella, A, A, A, A, A, A” (Seriously, that’s the hook of the song. This kind of songwriting is why Mick Jagger will be performing to packed stadiums gripping a walker rather than the microphone stand.)
10:15 a.m.: First commercial break on which I learn that the meat industry creates 18 percent of the earth’s greenhouse gases, and that we throw away 400 million water bottles everyday, and they take 300 years to decompose. While the witty PSA was sinking in, I was distracted by the next advertisement, which was Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and I remember thinking that going with Bravo as the network sponsor may not have been the best move.
10:30 AM-Noon(ish): I’m not going to lie. The concert is losing its appeal in hour one, most notably when the hosts started talking about “going green” with new organic clothing lines that are available. Look, I’ll recycle, try to reduce and I’ll certainly reuse, but don’t try to sell me shoes made of burlap and tell me they are Vegan shoes. Unnecessary accessories to causes make said causes appear less credible.
I decided to multitask and do a little laundry.
12:15 p.m.: While putting in the whites, I see a band that I’ve never heard of perform on a glacier in Antarctica which is amazing for the fact that are still looking like they are having a great time playing music, as musicians often do, but it is obvious that they are freezing cold. It’s the most entertainment I’ve had all day, so I will continue this green journey.
1-2:30 p.m.: I’m sorting out my old clothes, I’ve inflated my tires for better gas mileage, and vowed to protect the world so the world will protect me. The PSA’s with the kids worked. I’m hooked, I’m “answering the call”, and I don’t even care that Duran Duran is playing right now. I wonder for a second if Simon Lebon owns any Organic clothing? Perhaps he’s a vegan shoe guy.
3-5pm: This was the part of the concert where they jumped to coverage of the MTV generation bands like Fall Out Boy, AFI and others bands that the kids of the world are very into. I thought that it was good to put these bands on in the time slot where their fans could see them perform before their shift at Cinnabun and Hot Topic began.
5-7 p.m.: Red Hot Chili Peppers rock London, and John Mayer makes the most sensible comment in an interview yet when he says “I’m not sure if this conservation conversation is really defined yet. I’ll do the big stuff and try to do my part, but don’t tell me I’m saving the planet if I use one sheet of TP or pee on my dishes to save water.”
7:01 p.m.: I forgive him for “Your Body is a Wonderland.”
7:30 p.m.: It’s been almost 10 hours of watching this concert. I render myself unconscious with the freezer door.
At 8:36 p.m., I awake to Rosario Dawson on the stage in New Jersey introducing a band, but not before proclaiming that she will only do business with eco-friendly establishments.
8:37 p.m.: The entire worldwide audience wonders aloud what movie she was in other than “Rent.”
By 9 p.m., the big acts were coming on. Bon Jovi, who probably contributed to about 9 percent of ozone depletion with their personal and fan usage of aerosol Aqua Net hairspray in the 1980’s, play to a packed Giant stadium, and when they sang “Whooa, we’re halfway there…” I knew they were talking about environmental awareness.
Al Gore shows up, but no one seemed to listen because by this point everyone just wanted to see the Smashing Pumpkins and the Police. Kelly Clarkson dedicates “Since You’ve Been Gone” to the ozone layer, and Kanye West does the exact same set that he did the previous week for the “Concert for Diana.”
10 p.m.: Smashing Pumpkins are really good musically, really creepy aesthetically.
10:38 p.m.: The Pink Floyd inflatable pig descends onto the crowd during Roger Waters’ set and a nation has a flashback at the same time. 10:45 p.m.: Finally, everyone is thrilled to see the Police come onstage. Everyone except for Sting, of course, who just always looks like he’s about to hit someone with a pint glass.
11 p.m.: Of all the songs in the Police’s repertoire why “Roxanne?” A song about a British prostitute has nothing to do with global warming, unless the red light that Sting is telling her not to turn on is a non-fluorescent/eco-friendly bulb.
11:15 p.m.: They close with “Message in a Bottle” and I am enraged with myself that this is the coup de gras. Kanye West and John Mayer perform with the Police but after 13 hours of watching this concert, I needed something more than the obvious “we’re sending out an SOS” message.
Why did I do this ridiculous task of watching Live Earth for 13 hours?
I wanted to show that sometimes, the only way to get through to the mainstream public is by entertaining them and subliminally educating them on commercial breaks.
Plus if you want to get a point across, what is more outlandish and ridiculous than a rock-n-roll show?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.