Are we Human, or are we Hater?by Mahala High Five Brigade / 08.12.2009
Having not originally intended to go to The Killers concert, my Thursday night plan was to get started on item 37 of my 1000 ways to do nothing list. However, a last minute text from a friend offering 2 free tickets set off the age old battle between ‘Should I’ and ‘Shouldn’t I’ with the wildcard ‘Why The Hell Not’ eventually winning. So, armed with a bottle of carefully concealed Super M and a willing participant, it was off to The Coca-Cola Dome (which always springs to mind an image of a gargantuan, cola flavoured condom) for a bit of caution-to-the-wind-let’s-make-the-most-of-it-ness. See, I’m pretty indifferent towards the Killers. Sure there was a time my friends and I drunkenly and sweatily belted out the likes of, “Mr Brightside/Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine”. A time that the very mention of Brandon Flowers got us into a “Hot Fuss”; not to mention those cry-a-long-tear days where we all tried to “Smile Like We Meant It”. But, to be fair, those days have long faded. What had once sounded like fresh “electro-rock” to our ears, had, in the wake of newer, better, cooler bands, now faded into the soupy-sameness of 5fm radio schlock, forever relegated to the “pub anthems” compilations box. Like bug-eyed shades, what was once cool, had now been claimed by bro-culture to become the preserve of B-Com students, Rad Dads and Party Moms.
Arriving just as they were starting, the venue was packed out with everyone and their bloody auntie. Thanks be to the Dark Lord and all his minions, I had managed to miss the Zebra and Giraffe opening set (whose quintessentially African name you can be sure thrilled the fuck out the ‘Mericans). Tweens swarmed around us like crazy, perky, dervishes, hustling their way through the crowd, picking off cigarettes and stealing sips of beer off the taller, less underage members of the audience. 40 year old women screamed and sweated for all that their Smirnoff Spins allowed. Rad-Dads hiked their pre-tweens onto their shoulders and waved about their novelty neon thingies-with-no-real-purpose. And enormous screens displayed the dashingly tacky stage dressing in all its west-rand glory (bless be to he/she who put all those Mr Price fake flowers on the mic stand). Yes, this was a Big Event indeed.
But instead of feeling thrilled or in awe or happy to be experiencing a world class act; or any of those things one would expect to feel when (hypothetically) paying over 500 ZARS for a ticket, all I could feel was… bored. See, I didn’t go to this concert with an axe to grind. I didn’t want to hate it, had no intention of coming back with a bunch of sour grapes between the teeth. To the contrary, I had mentally prepared myself for liking it. That is, I had lowered my expectations considerably, and come to terms with the inevitables of the venue sucking, the crowd blowing, the sound being hideous and the bar inaccessible and overpriced. I had made peace with all these things. All I really wanted, the sum total of my expectations, was a good show. But there it was, the insolent little shit, bringing out the role in me of which I am least fond: The Hater. The Whiner. The Complainer. But; hate, whine and complain I did.
See, I had figured, that for an act as globally dominant as The Killers, for the ticket price and all the bums on the seats, some of that money would have been pumped into the actual event. Was Brandon flowers going to enter riding a tiger? Tongues of flame leaping from his pyrotechnic hat? Would it rain glitter? Would the drummer douse himself in scented oils and slime through the crowd, allowing you to kiss him with tongue? Well whatever it was, I was certain it would be spectacular. But alas, it wasn’t so. Instead, the band just kinda stood there, doing their thing, flawless delivery after flawless delivery. Don’t get me wrong, they do their thing well. They’re slick. The look and sound just like they look and sound on TV. But if there is anything vaguely sparky or personable or intrguing lurking behind that shiny and practiced veneer, I failed to see it. And, instead of being drawn in by their international amazingness, enraptured with their chart-topping chutzpah, I spent the time lamenting the schmaltzy backdrop (ripples of water, really?), snorting callously at the obligatory AIDS speech (complete with heart-jerking piano melody) and losing myself in the comparatively enthralling spectacle of one of my friends groping a girl not young enough to yet have tits. That said, there was a rather intriguing, if not confusing, moment in which Monsieur Blommetjies told a story about flying all the way across the big, scary ocean to this here corner of the dark continent. Except he delivered it in the televangelist style of those dudes you see on TBN when they speak about the second coming. Which may or may not have something to with the fact that they are a bunch of God fearing Mormons. But I digress.
Next time, Buzz-Killers, lose the routine, cut loose the gratuitous Bono moment, remember you’re on a stage, not at church and give me something marvellous to shut me up. Because, fuck knows, bored as you guys may be of singing the same songs over and over, and hearing them in the shops when you’re buying your funky feathers to stick on your jackets, do us a favour and at least pretend you’re not. We already have acts like old Z&G to bitch about . Next time, spread a little love down on these here plains of Africa, and put on a Goddamn show.
Images © and courtesy Lynn Landman.