You’re probably thinking, what??? How in the HELL is a benefit concert horrifying?! They do so much good! Yes. They do. They really do. That is most DEFINITELY not up for debate. But for me, they’re also a mixed bag of emotions. And one of these emotions is horror. Bear with me on this one and you’ll see where I’m coming from.
Benefit concerts are always amazing. They are always the “show of the year.” They do what almost no other promoter in the world ever could. They put together a literal who’s-who of music and Hollywood, side-by-side for an extravagant night of awesome. Obviously this is on my mind right now because of last night’s 12/12/12 show. It was amazing. Where the hell else are you going to see Bruce Springsteen OPEN, and Roger Freaking Waters sing a duet with Eddie Vedder (which was my personal highlight because I’m the world’s largest Pink Floyd fan, as well as an enormous Eddie Vedder fan) all within the first hour! On the same show you’ve got The Rolling Stones, The Who, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Chris Martin, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, and I mean the list goes on and on… It’s a musical dream.
But between these musical acts, we’re confronted with the interstitials. This is where things start to get muddled. It’s a combination of Hollywood actors hamming it up, trying to be funny, along with footage of the disaster filled with gut-wrenchingly sad stories. That combo just doesn’t work for me, ever. But it’s here that my brain always starts to work in overdrive a little more. It’s here where I start to find the horror. So basically here’s how I see it.
The only reason a benefit concert exists in the first place… is for a horrific disaster to happen.
So as a music fan, if I want to see Michael Stipe come out of retirement to sing Losing My Religion, people have to die. If I want to see Adam Sandler and Paul Shaffer do a wacky song together on stage, numerous homes have to be destroyed. I’m not blaming the singers nor the actors at all. In fact, bless their souls for doing it. But there’s just something really messed up about the basic fact that destruction has to take place in order for these one-of-a-kind situations to occur. And I have a hard time separating the fun from the reality.
Look, I know it’s the only way many Americans will give money. They feed on pop culture. Unless the destruction is right in front of their face, they act like it doesn’t happen. Sometimes you have to shove a lineup of incredible singers and famous actors in front of them to pay attention. But that’s additionally more sadness to me. They won’t just give on their own? We have to essentially “bribe” people with performances in order to get them to help their fellow man? I’m not throwing stones at humanity, I’m just looking at what we’ve become. And sadly, I kind of know why we’re becoming jaded like this. Which leads me to my last point…
The number of benefit concerts are growing. More disasters are happening. For every Hurricane Sandy, there’s a Hurricane Katrina. For every tsunami, there’s an earthquake. Maybe we’re being clouded by the awesome musical acts, but slowly, there have been more and more musical benefits… simply because there’s been more horrific events. And guess what? In the next few years, there’s probably going to be a lot more. This is the horror — our world feels like it’s slowly ending with all these catastrophic events. And somehow we’re blinded to it, because we love hearing Comfortably Numb sung by Eddie Vedder.
Damn, that was a good show though.
Can’t wait for the next horrific disaster so maybe Led Zeppelin will reunite.