Tag Archives: Duranies

Away from here

I try not to get political here on the blog because it’s kind of my escape. But then again, I’m not really sure if the word “escape” is appropriate here. For me, Duran Duran is just a part of everything else. I met my best friend at a fan convention. I write because I’m fascinated about fandom. I listen to Duran Duran music when I’m driving my kids around. I found some of my favorite people on earth because of Duran Duran. So I don’t know if I’d call the band my escape, or a just a really good and happy part of my life at this point. Whatever the case, I try to leave the stress at the proverbial “door” when I start writing, and enjoy the peace.

With that in mind, the solace of the blog has become somewhat more of a comfort in the past year. The world outside is pretty darn nasty right now. I can’t speak for what is going on in other countries of the world, but being American, I can absolutely speak to what I’m seeing and reading here. I don’t like it.

I’m not here to say who is right, who is wrong, or to judge anybody for what they believe. That’s what Twitter and social media is for. <insert big grin here>  My opinion is simply that regardless of who you voted for last November, I think it’s fair to say that our country is a mess. I don’t think anyone openly wanted to see something like what appears to be happening here unfold. I tread carefully here with my words because no one has been impeached, and I think we’re only at the very beginning of what might be a very long and dirty process. Despite what might seem to be the truth right now, there’s really no way of knowing what will happen in the months to come, and that’s no fake news. I worry a lot about what might come of it all in the end. But, I’m not really here to talk about American politics, thankfully.

It is during these times when I am most thankful for the fandom I’ve embraced, and the friends I’ve made along the way. It is so good to share even a few lighthearted laughs and tweets with people. I love that I can go online (at the moment, Twitter is that place for me), no matter what time of day, and see at least a few tweets about Duran Duran. Whether it’s someone reminding me of meaningful lyrics, or a picture, or even a memory from last summer’s tour, those simple tweets make me see that the sun really is still shining. While the rest of the world is surging to and fro similar to a washing machine, the simplest of things stay true. The music doesn’t change. Duran Duran is still Duran Duran. Thankfully.

-R

What WON’T the band do for their 40th anniversary?

I’ve noticed a lot of people working on surveys and things, putting together a wish list for Duran Duran’s 40th anniversary. I suspect the intention is that if fans work together to come up with a cohesive list, then perhaps the band will take a look and perhaps see their way clear to incorporating some of the ideas into their celebration plans. Maybe.

Amanda and I haven’t really done much of that here on the blog. I suspect part of the reason is that we’ve been around for six years, and during that time – while we’ve gotten support from DDHQ – I think we’ve come to realize they’re not going to take us seriously when it comes to the business of the band, and quite frankly – they’re probably smarter that way.  That doesn’t stop either of us from looking side-eyed at some of the things that have been done over the years, but you know, it’s much easier to quarterback from the sidelines than it is to actually be in the game. I don’t think we were always quite that accepting, but you know, Amanda and I have changed a little bit over the years.  Now we’re just having fun with it all.

That doesn’t mean we don’t throw some ideas out there every once in a while for fun though, and today will be no exception as I put together a short list of things the band will (probably) NOT do during #DD40!

Play a cruise!

I dearly love every human being who has suggested that Duran Duran basically put themselves on a cruise ship with what, 3-4,000 of their most rabid fans. How could that possibly go wrong??

Let’s just think about that for a minute: sun, water, several bars, thousands of fans who may or may not have partaken in said alcohol….and nowhere the band can really go to hide. Or run. Outstanding!

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that won’t be happening. Again, love the enthusiasm, but probably not for their 40th anniversary.

Play shows with Dom, Andy and Warren…at the same time!

Again, love the enthusiasm for their 40th anniversary.  Honestly, I think about the possibility of this purely for the entertainment value.  Can you imagine all three of them on stage? Together? Two of them have enormous egos…the third might be trampled in the process. All together onstage for the same shows, same songs?  My money is on a firm “no”.

For that matter, why don’t we bring back everyone who has ever played with the band to play onstage? Andy Hamilton, all of the backup singers, Sterling, Steve Ferrone, Joe Travers…is there a stage large enough???

More travel packages!

This is one idea that I could see the band instituting in part, but I’m going to gamble and say they won’t do it again, even for their 40th anniversary. Back before Astronaut was released, the band did a few very special travel packages that were in extremely limited quantity. Fans paid a tidy sum for a ticket to a specific show, accommodations, special merchandise, concierge service, and a cocktail party with all five band members in attendance. I have a good friend that bought a travel package, and by her account it was extremely well-organized and thought out, and I think it’s fair to say it was a very positive experience for her. The travel packages went from these extravagant luxuries down to a ticket and a quick meet and greet, and then they morphed into meet and greets given at random to VIP ticket buyers, and now none of the VIP packages come with anything other than the ticket, merchandise and possible cocktail parties in some cities (without the band in attendance).

I know the demand for these travel packages (and meet and greets) still exists, but I think the band hated them for the most part.  I can imagine the thought of going into a room filled with Duranies can be a bit overwhelming. I can’t blame them even if I might wish I’d been able to take advantage when meet and greets or travel packages were offered.

Play individual albums in their entirety!

The one suggestion I’ve seen over and over again is to play Rio, or any of their albums – entirely live for their 40th anniversary. It’s the one suggestion that I am positive most Duran fans want (even if there is discussion over which album they’d most like to see done that way), and it is the one suggestion that the band just doesn’t seem to get.

Just last week, Lori Majewski had John Taylor call in on her radio show, and she mentioned playing Rio live. John thinks we’d be bored (sometimes, I really don’t think they know their fans) because we’d already know the set list.

Ok, John. I get you. I’d just invite you to take a good look at your set list for the past few years as you’ve been touring Paper Gods, and then tell me again that fans get bored when they know the set list. The fact is, to have an entire album played live is a completely different experience than many of us have had before – Red Carpet Massacre aside.  For that matter, you could mix it up and that way, you’re not playing the same album over and over, and if fans like me want to see them all—they’re gonna have to take a leave of absence from their lives and travel to different shows to do it.

Even so, I think it’s safe to assume the band isn’t going to listen to reason on this one. They’re gonna play the hits, and we’re going to like it.

My heart is still hoping for Late Bar…but my head knows we’re getting Hungry Like the Wolf.

Intimate shows of 3,000 or less!

Let’s be real. Again, this one is a gamble, but I’m thinking money-wise, touring the 40th anniversary would be a cash cow. Why on earth would they only want to play in small venues when they can play arenas and bring in more money?

Personally, I’d love to see them play in smaller theaters so that long time fans have the opportunity to get up close and celebrate with this band. I’d like to see fans acknowledged for the time and energy we’ve given over the years. Who wouldn’t? That said, the lure for a huge “comeback” anniversary tour (no, they never left but the rest of the country, world, so forth probably doesn’t know that) is ever looming.

I’m just hoping they don’t decide to do that “Verified Fan” thing through Ticketmaster…

There are a lot of things I’d like to see the band do for their 40th anniversary. Mostly, I’m at a point where I’m just happy to see they’re still around fighting the good fight.  I’m looking forward to reading what they’ve got planned, and I’m hoping that I can take an active part in some of it along the way!

-R

Happy 35th Anniversary, Hungry Like the Wolf!

May the Fourth be with you.

(I am so sorry. I just had to do it.)

Is anybody HUNGRY???

(I should be taken out back and beaten at this point. I blame Simon. He made me do it. All those shows…I’ve clearly been brainwashed.)

OK, let’s get serious here. On this date in 1982, “Hungry Like the Wolf” came bounding into our lives, and clawed its way into the depths of our hearts. It continues to be one of the small group of songs I hear on the radio anytime they play Duran Duran. (Girls on Film, Planet Earth, Rio, ITSISK, Save a Prayer, Come Undone, and Ordinary World make up the majority of the DD songs I hear on mainstream radio) It has been thirty-five years, and its notoriety is still going strong. The song will likely still be played on the radio well after I leave this earth, and will outlive all of us.

Let’s get something straight: I don’t hate the song. Hate is a strong word. It’s unfair to assume that just because I hang my head in defeat at a show every single time the opening drum beat sounds, that I must hate it. I do not. I sing the “doo doo do-do, doo do-do, doo do-do, doo do-do, do-do” with the band every time I’m in front of them at a show. I try not to roll my eyes or laugh at Nick as he peers down over his keyboards at us (I swear he’s just daring me). I behave, and I am a good sport. Mostly.

After all, “Hungry Like the Wolf” is at least part of what got us here, isn’t it?  I mean, many of us knew of the band before that song came along, but many others of us did not. That song helped break America, so I can’t hate it, and I don’t. I still love the video, for instance. I mean, who does NOT love the video??? John Taylor, running through a street looking for Simon – who OF COURSE – is nowhere to be found because he’s in hot pursuit of a woman. Always a troublemaker, that Simon. <insert wink here> The video certainly didn’t make me swear off the band, that is for sure.

So yes, even I look back fondly at this day, thirty-five years ago. While I’ve grown cough, cough….tired….of this song taking up valuable real estate in the set list, I get it.

I play along, and yes, I ENJOY IT.  Happy Anniversary, “Hungry Like the Wolf”!

Let’s just watch the video again. Maybe I missed something the first 15,834,734 times I watched it!

I Knew When I First Saw You on the Showroom Floor

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading recently.  I just finished Electric Ladyland last night, which is about women and rock.  While reading, I found a quote that I couldn’t get out of my head. I sent it on to Amanda because we’re working on something and I thought it would be of benefit to her, too. I’m going to share it here as well, because I’m curious about what our readers might think.

“Even after I realized women were barred from any active participation in rock music, it took me a while to see that we weren’t even considered a real part of the listening audience.  It was clear that the concerts were directed only to men and the women were not considered people, but more on the level of exotic domestic animals that come with their masters or come to find masters. Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” –Susan Hiwatt, “Cock Rock”, an essay from Twenty-Minute Fandangos and Forever Changes

First of all, before the roaring chorus of “No way!!” begins, I feel as though context may be important.  I found this quote in Electric Ladyland, but it came from the essay cited above. Electric Ladyland examines the role of women in music, whether as musicians, writers, or groupies (anyone want to guess why I was reading?).  More specifically, the book targets the years of 1960 through the 1970’s. Anyone who has properly studied that time in history knows how much change occurred during that nearly twenty year period (1960-1979ish).  The quote came from something written in 1971, but I’m wondering how much of it still hold true today, and for the sake of argument, we can take Duran Duran for an example.

I don’t necessarily think that Duran Duran bars women from active participation, per se. I mean, I’ve been to concerts. So have many of our readers. It’s pretty clear they’re on board with the whole “there are women in our audience” thing.

That said, let’s take a few things into consideration. The band itself has never really gotten respect from critics and the like. Part of that reason is because of their following. And who made up most of their following?  Us. Women. Girls. Teenyboppers. Even today, when the band talks about their audience in interviews, they are certain to bring up the fact that their audience has broadened to include men. The point is, if it didn’t matter, I don’t think they’d bring it up.

Let’s talk about the concert itself since that’s something mentioned in the quote I shared. If you spend any time at all looking at the video screens behind the band, the images are mainly of women. Not ALL, but most. This has always amused me, because if the audience is primarily women, and we’re watching the show, which includes the screens…who are those images for, then?  Sure, we can and should argue that girls/women/models/etc has always been a part of Duran Duran’s entire visual package. Even so, there’s part of me that wonders, if the women in the audience cannot tear their eyes away from Simon for even a second to see the screens behind them, who is watching those screens?  Their dates?? Maybe. So while I wouldn’t argue the entire concert is directed towards men (hardly!), I do think there are images there designed for them. Not a bad thing, I’m definitely not condemning the band for them, I’m acknowledging what they’re designed to do.

Now, about that whole exotic domesticated animal thing. I’m not gonna lie – anytime I read words like that I think of “The Man Who Stole a Leopard”, which I feel is symbolism for a lot of different things.  But, when I get past that thought, I would agree that it’s difficult for me to see a Duran Duran concert in that same light. But isn’t that part of the reason why critics had such trouble giving Duran Duran even an ounce of credit back in the 80s?  The band wasn’t playing just for guys, or just for girls for that matter. They were meant for everyone.

On the other hand, I feel like there are a plethora of other examples, particularly in hard rock, where women are merely the eye candy for the evening. The music is meant for men, and they can bring their women along with them for the evening. Or women can show up on their own and then go looking for men! While I’m not saying that can’t happen at a Duran Duran concert, I’m also saying that they’re not the first band that pops into my mind when that scenario is discussed.

What about Duran Duran’s videos? This is another area that I think we have to at least acknowledge packaging.  Let’s be honest: many of their videos have beautiful women in them. Girls on Film, Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Falling Down, Girl Panic, New Moon on Monday, Careless Memories…I could go on and on.  They don’t just put women in their videos for their own benefit. They’re there to attract the audience the label (and maybe even the band) would like to have: men. Now why is that?  Why are men so important, and why is it that even when a band has millions upon millions of ardent female fans, why are they never given credit?

It’s not just Duran Duran in that boat, and it’s not just the 80’s we’re talking about here. The Beatles, Bay City Rollers, New Kids on the Block, N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, and yes, One Direction. By any account, all of those bands were (and still are) very successful. Millions of fans, sold-out tours,  and #1 records to go all around. In every example given, women make up the majority of their fans, and in every case the critical acclaim has never quite been there. (with the possible exception of The Beatles, where the majority of their critical success came after the band broke up). I just don’t think that’s   purely coincidence.

“Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” 

If I am to understand that quote correctly, if men like the music – I think of Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Rolling Stones, The Police, etc – it’s because the music is genuinely good, men get that, and that is why they choose those bands to follow.  If an audience is made up of women and girls, it is because those women don’t really get the music. I mean, how could they – they’re too busy looking at the band to hear much else, and they don’t really understand music anyway. Ah. I see.

I can remember sharing my thoughts about various songs the band has done over the years. Amanda and I have done many reviews on the blog or even on YouTube. I never failed to be amused by some of the comments we received, some of which came incredibly close to a virtual pat on the head, explaining that while we’re cute, we don’t understand music.

Outraged, I’d write back, sharing my education with them. I would punch at the keys on my computer as though each one was hurting the (typically) male who dared question my intelligence. But then one day, I got smart and stopped responding. I don’t need to bother. I know what I know. I am confident that for the most part, the men (and some women) who choose to belittle whatever Amanda and I are doing at the time, aren’t going to ever be convinced of why or how we do it. We run into that kind of judgment all the time, whether it’s someone criticizing why we go to shows, why we blog, or why we’ve written manuscripts. We can’t win those individual battles on our own, but together, we can win the war.

It just doesn’t have to be this way.  I’m interested in reading your thoughts and ideas!

-R

On this date in 2016, the Belasco Theater, Los Angeles.

It is hard for me to believe that on this very day last year I was waiting in line to get into the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles. I remember it was a warm day, and my husband went with me to see the show. We came prepared to be in the line all day – and even brought chairs. It was the most “prepared” I’ve ever been for a GA line, and the funny thing is that I spent almost zero time IN the chair.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that the GA line, at least for me, is becoming less and less of a chore and more like a reunion.  That entire day was spent walking up and down the line, spotting faces I hadn’t seen in a few years, and then talking with them. The time flew by, and I could hardly believe it when Walt told me we needed to pack up the chairs and stuff and get it back to the car.

As much as I hate the idea of GA, these days, I feel like I know so many other Duranies – it is like sitting around and chatting all day, with no place else to be, and then getting into the theater and talking more before the band comes on stage. I don’t hate that. I also haven’t noticed the same pushing and shoving that I used to experience at one point. Either we’ve gotten to the point where we understand one another and don’t bother, or, we’re a kinder, gentler set of die-hard fans these days. Sure, every show has its resident idiot that thinks they need to shove or just behave out of line, but for the most part, we’re a tame crowd.

In July, I will head up to the San Francisco bay area to see two more GA shows. I’m curious to see if I’ll still be feeling the same sort of love there as I did last year. I hope so – I’ll be there with Amanda and our two roomies from Rancho Mirage. I can’t wait for another road trip!

So, were you at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles last year?

-R

Don’t You Just Grow Out of It? Fantasy and Gender

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were talking about fandom. I can’t remember exactly what prompted the discussion, but  I was explaining that when I was young, I did have the marvelous, very naive fantasy, of marrying Roger Taylor. That kind of ended once he got married and left the band because reality has a nasty habit of setting in to ruin things. After that, while I still idolized the band, my fandom sort of took on new meaning. I explained that not everyone has that same experience. He responded by saying, “Well, don’t you just grow out of that?”

I took a deep breath and blinked a couple of times, trying to process what he was really asking, and what I really wanted to say in return.

So many other thoughts and quotes I’ve heard and read over the years rang through my head..

“You can love Roger Taylor, you can adore John Taylor…but some people need a certificate [are certifiable].” 

“Fan is short for fanatic, right?”

“Oh, we know you guys. You’re fans and you’re all crazy.”  (emphasis not mine)

I didn’t even know where to start or what to say.  I was thinking, “Here I am, the woman who has Duran Duran posters plastering her closet, and blogs about them nearly every day, and you’re seriously asking me that?” 

The truth is, no. No we don’t just grow out of that. Obviously.  Sure, I stopped thinking Roger was going to ride up on a white horse and marry me, but that didn’t stop me from idolizing him. While I may have let go of that fantasy, there are still plenty of others that took its place. Anyone who knows me, including just passing friends and people I know from Heather’s old dance team and teachers from Gavin’s old school, knows I’m a Duran Duran fan. Sometimes, they even send me links to  contests to win tickets, or charity events where the band is going to play! (I still haven’t been hooked up with actual tickets to one of those corporate or charity events though, dang it!)  So yes, I’m still a fan. No, I didn’t grow out of all of it.

On the other hand, I understood where Walt was coming from. At some point, I did let go of the fairy tale, at least to a certain extent.  The problem I see here though, is that we women are expected to give up our dreams and become our mothers at some point. Society trains us to believe that once married, or once old enough to marry, the posters and t-shirts and all that jazz needs to be put up in the attic, buried in the basement, or tossed out with the trash. What is scary, is that I very nearly bought into this insanity at one point. I think back to when I was a new mom, and I can tell you that Duran Duran was about the very last thing on my mind. I very quickly embraced the idea of staying at home, taking care of Heather, and succumbing to the role of motherhood. It didn’t occur to me that I could still be Rhonda AND do all of that.  Gender roles are a real thing, and we need to acknowledge that the expectations are out there, and that quite frankly – they’re a lot of BS.

To this day, I still have an ongoing struggle with my own expected gender role and what I really want out of life. I am a people-pleaser, I seek approval, and yet many of the things I enjoy most out of life put me in the direct line of fire and reproach from family and friends. If that weren’t enough, society thinks we’re all crazy for being fans anyway.  I still do an amazing amount of horrible (and really dumb) self-talk at times, telling myself that I need to get “back in line” as a wife, or that I should just give it all up and stay at home because it would make my family happier. Since when do my feelings not matter? Since when does being a wife, mom or woman mean that I can’t have my own interests, hobbies, and enjoyment? I’m learning to ask myself those questions more and more often in return when I start thinking about just giving up. (just imagine my house at times…)

Bottom line: it doesn’t have to be this way. It really doesn’t. The more you, and I, and everyone else, starts embracing the word “fan” and recognizing that it’s OK, and that it is absolutely NOT OK for the word “fan” to equate to the word “crazy”, the better off we’ll all be. Same goes for those expected gender roles. It won’t be easy. There are people out there that desperately need us to fall in line to carry on their own agendas, but it’s time we begin standing up for ourselves.

I know far too many of you out there who have brilliant careers as teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers and accountants, or supermoms,  and volunteers who donate so much of their own blood, sweat, and tears into one thing or another, to know that most of us aren’t crazy. We might get a little excited, or even sway into lunacy when our favorite band member grins at us from the stage, but we’re not crazy.

Being a woman doesn’t mean we are somehow required to give up being a fan, and it’s appalling that some people are determined to preach otherwise.  As my friends have told me rather recently, it’s OK to have the fantasy! I think almost all of us recognize the difference between reality and fantasy, and sometimes it’s those fantasies that keep us going each day. In some ways, I almost feel sorry for the people who argue otherwise, because they’re missing out on so much.

So how did I answer my husband that day? Well, I didn’t, really. I changed the subject. Now, I know everyone would love to read about a moment of triumph, but that didn’t happen for me. I’m admitting this because I want to show you that I don’t have it any more figured out than anyone else. It takes an incredible amount of work. Sometimes I do well. Other times, I take the easy way that does nothing to help in the long run. In that moment, I recognized that if he didn’t get it by then, he probably wouldn’t. I won’t lie, there are some days when I am just not up for the argument, or the scrutiny. So yes, I still have plenty of work to do on my own. I can’t change him, but I can change me.

No, we don’t just grow out of it, and we shouldn’t. The fantasy lives on.

-R

You Won’t Miss Me When I’m Gone

Well, the spring run of shows is over, and the band has gone back to England.

I feel a little deflated, and yet my shows ended weeks ago. If that weren’t enough, I’ve seen a few people comment that they’ve never seen a tour happen this way – and so that must mean it’s farewell.

Oh come on now. Really?

First of all, I’ve seen a lot of tours like this. As in, most, if not all of them. The band always adds dates here and there, at least for as long as I’ve been actively paying attention. They do first, second…sometimes third and even fourth “legs”, and Duran Duran is FAR from the only band in the universe to do this. As John Taylor said recently in an interview, sometimes dates (like the South American shows) come up, and they have to get their whole group together, and so it just makes sense to add in a few more shows to make the trips worthwhile. I’m not going to find fault with that kind of sanity.

Second, if we’re talking about the fact that they haven’t gone many other places aside from the UK, Italy, the US and now South America – again I have to say it’s about money. Like it or not, the band has bills to pay, and they only go where they’re being paid to go. I know it’s hard to imagine, but the cost involved with doing a world tour – a real world tour – are staggering. They can’t just fly to Australia and do one show, and they can’t do more than that if promoters and bookers aren’t getting them shows. It’s that simple, whether we want to believe it or not. Sometimes, I think Duran fans look for conspiracies that just do not exist.

Lastly, even if this is their final farewell, does it really change anything? Does it change how YOU are touring? What shows YOU are attending? For me personally, I’m going to what I can. Even if I knew it was the final countdown, I couldn’t possibly do more shows right now, even if I wanted. I mean, what more could I really want though?

I’m not the type of person that is going to sit and wait for them outside of their hotel, or at an airport. I love them, but I also feel awkward doing that stuff. I know a lot of others do, and that’s great. It’s not my thing. There is only one time I’ve asked one of them to sign something for me, and in all honesty it was Dom, it wasn’t Simon, or Roger, or anyone like that. I’m just not that kind of fan, not that I think those people are wrong or weird or anything like that – it’s just that for me, I don’t want or need much signed. I’ve been to the UK. I’ve seen Birmingham – out of everything I’ve ever done in the name of “fandom”, that was the one thing I really wanted and it lived up to every last possible expectation and then some. Truth be told, I would really like to go back to the UK again. Very much so. I don’t know if I will have a chance to take that trip though, just because of timing and family expenses (again, college is NOT CHEAP).  I’ve taken long road trips with Amanda, I’ve had some wonderful experiences at shows, and I have made a lot of friends along the way. I just don’t know if there’s much else I could reasonably want, except more.

So while the idea of “farewell” bothers me, I can’t go on worrying about it looming overhead. A bit of advice my dad gave me before he died was that I needed to not worry so much about the dying. I’d call him at least a few times a week towards the end, and I’d always ask how he was feeling. It was natural, and I meant it in the most loving way possible – he was my dad and I was worried. Dad got tired of talking about how he was feeling though, because let’s face it – he already knew he was dying. It was no secret. He didn’t want to focus on the end, he just wanted to enjoy the living. So, he told me that the end was going to be just that, the end, and that none of us had much control over when that was going to be, or how that was going to transpire. What he and I could do though, was to enjoy the time we had. So I am, and I will. It was still a shock when the end arrived, and I still went through all of the same stages of grief as anyone might. But, I’m kind of glad my dad gave me that little pep talk though, because it’s come in handy more than once in the almost nine years he’s been gone. That’s my dad – watching out for me up until the very end!

Of course I’ll be wistful and sad when they stop touring. I have friends that I don’t know if I’ll see again when that time comes, even if I don’t think now is that time. I can’t imagine not seeing the band, or Dom, or even some of the roadies again. We fans have known them so long we can’t imagine not having them around and yet they really don’t know us at all. There’s really only one person in or around the band that truly knows me or my name, and I don’t even question whether or not he’ll know me in a crowd. It’s kind of like going to family reunions every time they tour or do a show, and I’ll miss those.

I think that’s really just it. Family. Somewhere along the line, this band and all of the fans that go along with them, have become a family, whether we like it or not! Some I might see as crazy uncles (there’s always one!), and others are probably related only by marriage and we don’t really know how they fit in, but they’re part of the group. I can’t imagine that feeling of family just ending, can you?

I don’t know what the band has coming next. I know that they’re coming back to California in July. I have heard rumblings of other possibilities, courtesy of the monthly Katy Kafes. I don’t think this band is quite done yet, but I’m not going to worry about that. I’m going to enjoy seeing pictures, chatting with friends, and planning for the shows I will see in July. I am going to work on a couple of projects I have going on here at home – including a high school graduation for my son, and I’m going to be reveling in the joy I have bubbling within for getting him to this point. I’m going to savor each moment as it comes, and live in gratitude for each day I’m given, and so should you.

-R

Thirty-eight and counting. Happy Anniversary!

Yesterday was kind of a big day to look back. I know the band isn’t nostalgic, but we can afford to take a minute to think back on the beginning in order to fully appreciate where we are right now.  This blog was supposed to have published yesterday, but due to owner error (mine), I blew it.

I’m still publishing this damn thing, regardless. Day late…don’t care.  You’re welcome.

On April 5th in 1979, Duran Duran played their very first gig at the Birmingham Polytechnic University. Duran Duran even commemorated the day by posting the flyer that John created and copied on the xerox machine. (did they even call them that way back then?? Kidding….)

While you’re contemplating whether or not xerox machines were in wide-use back then (come on, you know you at least thought about it), let me just make you aware that this is the 38th anniversary of that show. THIRTY-EIGHT.  

WHA???????

At least, that was my reaction when I thought about it, followed up by, “That’s impossible. I’m not even thirty!”  After which, I considered what age I posted the LAST time I said something like this. Truth is, I can’t remember.

Yes, I know that’s a sign of old age. MOVING ON…

Ultimately, it means that today we’re celebrating, or at least acknowledging, a time before Simon was even in the band. Now, if that doesn’t blow your mind, not much will. And, in a year from now, it will be the fortieth anniversary that Duran Duran has been in existence. Their 40th birthday.

Again, That’s impossible.

My, my, how things have changed. We’ve gained a singer. Lost a guitarist or two. Had a couple of drummers, lost a lot of good people along the way, and have also found some really wonderful friends and “family”.  Life has happened.

I can’t let a post like this go without expressing some of my own gratitude.  Every band has a first gig, and I suppose on some level, it can seem pretty insignificant. After all, it’s just the first of many.  In this case, thirty-eight years worth of “many”. Who knew?  I didn’t even pick up on Duran Duran until a few years later, and they’ve been one of the very few constants I’ve had in my life ever since. I know many other fans feel similar. I try not to take the blog or my own fandom TOO seriously these days, but my love for these guys—who don’t even know me, my face, or my name—is real. I’m forever grateful I didn’t change the dial when Rodney Bingenheimer played Planet Earth. To this day they remain a huge part of my life, through the love I have for them, and the friends I’ve made along the way. Yep, being a fan is weird, but I can’t imagine my life without it.

Happy Anniversary.

-R

Lost in a Crowd: Why are audiences different?

I’m in research mode again, and for some reason, that always makes me a little more inquisitive about the human condition…or the fan condition, since that’s appropriate here!

I wrote about Lollapalooza yesterday, or at least about the crowd. Admittedly, I’m at least partially fascinated by it because I’ve never seen anything like it at any of the shows I’ve been. No, I don’t go to festivals, and but even if I had—I just don’t think we draw the same sort of crowd. But, I wasn’t sure, so I checked!

As a sort of baseline for myself, I started with what I knew. I couldn’t find a firm attendance number for Voodoo Fest in 2006, but I do know that the following year’s crowd shattered all previous records at just over 100,000 for the three days.  That tells me that however many people stood watching Duran with me the year before, it probably was not as many as Lollapalooza in Argentina. This was not a surprise, but I decided to go check Coachella’s figures.

According to Forbes.com, Coachella averages about 99,000 on each weekend (it runs over two weekends).  Lollapalooza is at 300,000…but this is the US Lollapalooza, because the article was comparing US music festivals in terms of attendance, ticket price, and cost to hydrate (water bottles).

 

So in terms of attendance, I was wrong. They’ve played to nearly the same amount of people here on occasion.  I just don’t remember it being such a big deal. Do you?

Before someone emails me, yes – I read John’s book and yes, I saw he mentioned it in there. I can remember when John alluded to being on the bill for Coachella right on Twitter and there was no denying his excitement. I remember seeing the show online, and I remember the band commenting about how cool it was, too. So there is that. But somehow, I felt like Lollapalooza was different. I wasn’t there, but I’ve seen the show. I really watched the crowd whenever the camera panned over them. It was very different from anything I’ve ever seen.

First of all, I think my (American) culture very much plays into this. I’d love to say we’re a peaceful people. I’d love to say we’re full of love and joy….and to some extent, we are and do. But, we’re also big into territory and personal space. We build fences around our property. (no political comments necessary) We like to know that what is ours, is ours alone. I don’t find that Americans are an especially “huggy” sort of people. I tend to stick out my hand before I ever offer a hug, for instance. Here, we hug our friends and people we love, like family. Other countries hug, go for a kiss on the cheek, or even both cheeks. We’re not used to that so much here. Suffice to say, if I’ve hugged you, it’s because we’re good friends and I care about you. I’ve had to get used to the fact that Duranies are pretty huggy people!  So, at festivals, and even GA shows, while most other cultures don’t mind being on top of one another for hours on end, it (can) make an *American’s skin crawl.

In watching the footage from Argentina, I saw a lot of generally good partying going on. People clapping, hugging, laughing… I think that happens here too, but maybe to a lesser extent?  I don’t know, at the shows I’ve been to (and I have been to more than one festival in my life, just to be clear), it seems as though while MOST people are there to have a good time, there always seems to be a group of people who, for some reason, are out to ruin it for everyone else.  I can point to any number of things that ignite that behavior: drugs, alcohol, anger…lack of space, lack of food, etc.

Anger is a weird thing here because it seems like for any celebratory thing that happens, it creates anger as some sort of side effect. I don’t know how often this happens in other parts of the world, but I know it happens here frequently enough to take notice.

I suppose to most people, this type of thing isn’t very interesting, but to me it is, particularly because I think it may influence fandom. My friends from South America tell me that there is nothing like the audiences there, and I really just want to understand why that is the case.

Maybe what Amanda and I need to do is research audiences!

“Sorry honey, I have to go on a business trip around the world to research audience reactions and see what correlations exist between audiences and cultures.” 

Somehow, I doubt he’d buy it, but it’s an interesting thought.

I will still end with the same thought I had yesterday: I wish our audiences could excite the band as much as the Lollapalooza audience did the other day. While I personally am not anxious to be in a crowd of that magnitude, I would love the band to see how much they are loved here in the states. For as often as they visit the states, it would be nice for them to feel that same sort of gratitude from us.

-R

*The caveat being that I’m finding younger generations—younger festival goers, for example—are a little less “this is YOUR space and this is MY space” than say, I might be.  My kids don’t have quite as big of a hang-up about space (among other things), for example. I have some theories about why that may be, but I’ll save that for another day.

 

 

Of Crime and Passion, or Mosh Pits and Survival…

What defines “passion”?

The last festival I attended was Voodoo in 2006. My memories of that show are pretty graphic. I’d walked onto the festival grounds with Amanda, our friend Sara and my sister that morning, thinking we were so smart. We’d bought general admission tickets, and figured we’d wait through the day, securing spots in about the second row or so.  All was fine until late afternoon, and then things quickly turned ugly. It wasn’t long before we were no longer congratulating one another, instead calling ourselves idiots while ruefully laughing.

At one point, I turned around to see the hell that was behind me. The crowd went back as far as my eyes could see. I made a silent pact with myself to never turn around again, no matter how bad it got. (I’m more than slightly claustrophobic and that was a sight I never needed to see) About that time, My Chemical Romance took the stage, and we went from a mildly calm crowd to a mosh pit. I would not use the word “passion” to describe the scene. No, instead I would describe it as a cauldron of anger, and I was floating in the middle of it, right alongside Amanda, Robin and Sara.

It’s one thing to be in a mosh pit at say, a club the size of the House of Blues. You feel people push and shove and you just step aside. It’s not a big deal. It is entirely another to be in a crowd of tens of thousands and feel the wave of energy overtake you. I remember feeling as though it was similar to being in the ocean. Nothing was going to stop that wave, and I was either going to go with it, or it would mow me over, and I’d drown. The trouble is, there isn’t much to hold on to, and I’m of the opinion it is rude to grab onto someone I’ve never met and hope for the best while quickly introducing myself.

“Hello, my name is Rhonda, and I’ve never wanted to be in a mosh pit. Chalk this up to a crazy idea to see Duran Duran…a band I am starting to have second thoughts about supporting, if I’m honest. I’ve got two kids at home, and honestly I just want to survive. Help me!” 

That wasn’t the route I took. Mostly, I just fell into Amanda, Sara and Robin and hoped we weren’t all going down for the count in the process. I stumbled a lot, tried to not to fall down completely and made a lot of bargains with the universe.

“Dear God, if you let me live, I swear I will NEVER go to another festival again.” 

“This stupid band, WHY did I think this was a good idea???” 

If that weren’t enough, there were the crowd surfers. Bless their evil little hearts. I couldn’t care less if someone wants to live out their fantasies of being carried by people they don’t know, as long as I’m not involved. However, that’s not what happened that day. People came by, surfing away—and they expected you to hold them up while they might grab and pull your hair, kick you in the head, not-so-playfully slap you, or use their razor-like long nails to scratch your face—which is exactly what happened to me that day.

Never did I expect to leave a Duran show with a scar, but I earned one that evening. It’s very faint and blends in well, so most people don’t notice. I’ll never go to another festival again unless I’m invited to watch from backstage, and since that’s not gonna happen, I’m good right here at home. It’s not a lack of passion that keeps me here—it’s a little bit of fear (well, more than a little, really), and a whole lot of sanity. I didn’t enjoy having my face scratched, or holding on for dear life while the crowd surged. The fact is, I like going to shows. I love cheering for Duran Duran. I’m not interested in blood loss, among some other personal atrocities I haven’t mentioned, while doing so.

At this point you’re probably wondering why I’m telling this tale. Well, for the last week or so, I’ve seen tweets from Duran Duran and others, talking about how amazing a time they’ve had at Lollapalooza. By now, you’ve also read about how passionate those fans are, and that they played in front of 95,000 fans in Argentina. On one hand, I’m glad that they’re having such a great time. On the other, are they really any more passionate than the rest of us…except that they seem to be en masse?

It’s a word I’ve seen used a lot this week by various band members…including my personal favorite…and I just have to wonder what that word really means. Let’s face it, I live in the US, and overall, it’s easy to be a fan here. The band performs a lot in the states. We don’t have to wait decades or even more than a few years at most between shows. Does that mean we’re less passionate as a result? I’m sure some fans around the world would say yes. But is that a fair statement? Just because it’s easy to be a fan doesn’t necessarily mean there’s less passion or loyalty. On the other hand, it is very difficult to argue against the sea of people who screamed for the band in Argentina, and I am not taking anything away from those fans anyway. Sure, you can look at the crowd and say that they weren’t all there for just Duran Duran…but they sure look and SOUND like they are, and the videos I’ve seen don’t lie. It’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen, and while I think it looks amazing from the stage, I am still relieved I wasn’t there. I can feel my heart begin to race just thinking about being in that crowd, and not in a good way, but that’s just me.

The fact is, I have to remind myself when I see tweets about how great those audiences have been, that for the band, those big crowds keep them going. It might not be very fun or exciting for them to play in front of 3,000 people (even if I’m having the best night of my life at the time), particularly if they’re playing in a casino where chunks of the audience were given their seats because they’re high rollers at the casino, or won the tickets from the radio. On the other hand, when you’ve got 150,000 music lovers screaming for you, of course you’re going to come away feeling energized, ready, and wanting for more. Those shows are what keep you going. It’s no contest, even if you’re like me, and want the band to love coming to where you live to play. I know the audience in Rancho Mirage, or anywhere else I’ve seen them lately,  didn’t even come close to in comparison.

In America, as much as we die hards love Duran Duran, it’s an uphill battle for the band, and they know it. We know it, too. Doing festivals here can be tough work. They don’t necessarily “fit” with every festival, and the crowds can be very fickle. Other countries don’t seem to have quite the same problem. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that America would ever draw the same sort of audience for them as they had in Argentina for Lollapalooza. That makes me sad, but it’s the reality. I’m sure it makes Argentinian fans wonder why the band doesn’t take advantage and tour there more often—and thankfully, it’s not my job to figure that out!

So are those fans really more passionate? Individually, I doubt it. I think a Duranie is a Duranie, no matter where they live. I’m not convinced enough to say that I don’t have the same passion as someone else, because we all do whatever it is that we can do. We all love the band. However, there’s no denying that crowd, and I’m glad Duran Duran got to experience that type of energy. They deserve it.  While I don’t wish I had been there, I do wish that our audiences created that same type of energy for the band.

Good luck Atlanta, Florida and North Carolina fans. Have great shows, and give ’em what you’ve got!

-R