Friday, June 12, 2009

Wait your turn

Day 12 Assignment

I think I shy away from events including the words "concert" or "festival." If it's band or songwriter I really like, I would prefer to see them in a smaller setting. Large, impersonal venues where I can't even see the band and the tenor of the music is lost before it reaches my ears aren't particularly enticing. I don't think I would want all my favorites at the same time. It would be too much. I would prefer a series of small, intimate events, but that's just me.

Today's topic reminded me of ACL. I lived in Austin for four years before I went, and when I finally did go, it was to work the signings for Waterloo. I saw almost no music, walked in the sun for eight hours and came home coughing up dust each day. I also loved it. It was wildly interesting to see these bands as people, and to interact with the different groups of fans. One band that the teens were crying about were absolute losers. Waterloo had to send a second golf cart for their three squealing teenage girlfriends, who managed to infuriate sunstroked, overworked and exhausted employees until the signing was finally over. On the other hand, a semi-popular Australian singer/songwriter type hopped over the table so that he could stand and talk with each of his fans. He was attentive and authentic. He didn't hurry anyone along, didn't say no to any picture. It was very sweet, and it obviously made those fans giddy.

But Daniel Johnston was my favorite. Everyone was tense before the signing. Waterloo bent over backwards to make the signing as comfortable for him as possible. Instead of selling CDs to the waiting fans, I primarily walked the line and explained the special rules to make Daniel more comfortable. The fans were amazing. Daniel was flustered and shy when he arrived, but the fans did more that Waterloo ever could to make him comfortable. When we explained that Daniel is a little unpredictable, and that we asked them not to take pictures and to have their items ready so that he might stay longer, and more of the line might get to meet him...everyone cooperated. Everyone understood. If someone couldn't hear me, their neighbors in line turned around to explain. No one got upset or angry. They all respected that the people behind them wanted to meet him just as much as they did. It was lovely. Less than a quarter way through the line, Daniel was joking with fans, drawing them pictures and sending them away beaming. It was the longest line we had, and he stayed for every last fan.

For the rest of the weekend, when dealing with drunk, obnoxious and self-important fans, I thought of Saturday morning, and how good they could be.

We'll see who shines this year.

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