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!