Monday, May 11, 2015

Culture Corner: Noel Gallagher:Live!

I have a horrible conception of time. For example, did you know that the television show Quantum Leap  ended in the year 1993? Trick question: you almost certainly did not know that because you were not alive when that happened. If anything, I have just given you an explanation as to the why there are a stack of VHS tapes in your attic with "Quantum Leap" scrawled in marker on masking tape. Don't worry, your parents just like awesome TV shows. So, many of you were probably puzzled this past semester when I continually referenced rock star Noel Gallagher:

"Noel Gallagher's new album just dropped, yo," I would say.

"Who," you would ask, following the question with, "and stop talking like that. No one talks like that."

"Noel Gallagher-he was in Oasis-they did Wonderwall. I'm telling you, they are totally on fleek."

"Oh, yeah, my Mom likes that song. Stop saying fleek. Justin, promise me you will never say fleek again."

"Sorry, brosef, I just have a case of FOMO. You feel me?"

Anyway, my semester long fascination with Gallagher came to a head when I went to go see him live at Webster Hall this past Thursday. Webster Hall is one of my favorite places to see a show, as the venue is pretty small and it's general admissions, which means if you show up early, you can get right up to the stage. I went with one of my oldest friends and we did pretty much that-not front row, but we were pretty close and had a good view:

Oh sure, every once in a while some giant would lope by, blocking the view, but this alway makes me feel bad for tall people; a tall person can never really enjoy themselves at a concert without knowing, deep down, that they are completely ruining the experience for whoever is behind them. Sorry, tall person, you may find concerts uncomfortable, but you're just going to have to settle for you're statistically higher earning power!

I don't like sports and one of the reasons is because I have a deep fear of losing my identity to a crowd of people. Nothing creeps me out like watching a sporting event on television and seeing a crowd of people dressed exactly the same, rooting for so and so to win the whatever. Between religion, nationalism, and racism I would say that we have the whole choosing arbitrary ideologies thing covered. No need to add games to the mix.

But at concerts, there is something that helps me to transcend this fear. At their best, concerts allow me to indulge in the communal feeling that others get through such things as sports, religion, etc. and I must admit there is something powerful in participating in a shared experience. Being part of a large group of people as we all sing along to Gallagher's "Death of You and Me" is quite frankly, exhilarating. Part of the reason is because while Gallagher is a huge draw throughout the world (in Europe and Japan, Gallagher routinely sells out stadiums), in America Gallagher is relegated to a one-hit wonder status for much of the mainstream. He is not deified here the way he is in the British music press, so just being around so many people who share the same enthusiasm for an artist offers a bit of weird validation.

As I mentioned earlier in the post, my conception of time is hazy. For most of the day, I walk around with the mistaken notion that I am twenty-five years old. But then I'll feel a crick in my knee, fall to the ground yelling, "Pearl Jam," and realize that I am very wrong. This slowly evolving acknowledgement of mortality was palpable among the throng of aging concert-goers on Thursday night. When Noel Gallagher played the excellent Oasis B-side, "Fade Away," a melancholy hush fell over the crowd, as the song's bittersweet message of the dreams that pass us by as we grow older perhaps hit close to home for many in the audience. 

But this is what makes concerts so great: we gather together and exercise our fears, we shake off our worries, and we emerge from the venue stronger, buoyed by fellowship and cleansed by rock and roll. We stand in the audience, thick among the people, and we sing along, "you and I/ we live and die/ the world still spinnin' round/ we don't know why." And then we explode, like a Champagne Supernova in the sky.  

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