October 23, 2009
This was something I wrote few weeks after having moved to Amsterdam last year. The idea was to publish it in a magazine called Amsterdam Weekly that anyone can contribute as long as the writing is ok, they pay and I needed the money.
They ended up not using it because of a policy of them of not publishing reviews to concerts. So here it is.
Thanks for passing by.
A Radiohead Purge
I arrived in Amsterdam about 3 weeks ago. Between trying to find a home, get the sofinumber, a bank account, a job and just doing my best to keep myself alive I could not contain this fatalistic urge, in a very Dostoievskian way, to spend the last money I had, in one last moment of redemption: the Radiohead concert.
After spending some time asking around in bars and coffee shops for tickets to the concert, I got used to the idea that I would have to spend my money on something less interesting but more practical, like buying something to eat other than Dirk van der Broek bananas (they give one free pack of 4 bananas for each pack of 4 bananas bought, which makes 8 bananas for 99 cents).
But before that I had the almighty resource of online shopping. It didn’t take much to find one ticket on the british eBay, to buy it for less money that it would have cost me the regular way and to collect it on a sunny day at the front gate of Vondelpark.
The atmosphere on the day of the concert was pretty relaxed, in the outskirts of the venue people tried to find a place to at least see the monitors, inside people waited in shorts and sandals with the usual scent of cannabinoids in the air. Bat for Lashes and her band Blue Dreams opened the concert and they did well; Thom Yorke (the front man of Radiohead) was watching enthusiastically at one side of the stage hidden by the gear, but we who know him can spot his dance moves with eagle eyes.
Then the first riff of Bodysnatchers starts. C’mon it’s a Radiohead concert and the best live performance you’ll ever see, we don’t need to talk much about it. What we’re here to talk about it’s the audience.
People acted accordingly when they entered the stage, they applauded the first song, the second one and all 23 others; some great reactions when they played Karma Police, Just and Jigsaw Falling Into Place and that was it, because most of the time people were just there. At my side I had this couple of guys touching each other clothes that by the looks, since I don’t understand Dutch, might as well be discussing the H&M spring, summer collection, five meters from me this guy was dancing what looked like a modern electro version of the Macarena, but at least he was having fun, and the couple that, given the seriousness of their tone of voice, probably decided to bring to the Radiohead concert a discussion about the despotic attitude of the government of China towards Tibet (suggested by the two flags that the band had of this country on stage). All this while in me, something close to a revolution was happening.
If this concert were in my country, Portugal, heads would roll on the floor and bodies would fly on the air; sorry Sophocles but Greek tragedy goes a long way from here (before you right wing comrades start yelling ‘So why don’t you go to your country?’ let me say that I’m just a long time tourist, I’ll stay here for a few months and then I’ll go someplace else). But then again people there don’t have a healthy economical system and legal pot to rest their souls so they feel obliged to give the best of them in the transcendental experience that a concert can be.
Because that’s what much of this is about. Amsterdam is like that big spoiled brat that has so charisma that you can’t avoid to love, that wants more and more and, blind as he is, can’t appreciate what he already has. Well, to this 5 cents tourist bananas never tasted better.
Amsterdam, July of 2008.