I spent Saturday in Central Park with 59,999 of my closest friends. Those friends include new ones like my Global Citizen Crew pictured below, and old ones like Band of Horses, The Black Keys, and Foo Fighters who in the spirit of charity all rocked out free of charge.
The show aimed to raise 500 million dollars for charities that makes the world a better place. And that day if nothing else, they succeeded in New York City. Things kicked off with K’Naan and then moved to Band of Horses, an old favorite of mine who had quite the sense of humor about being part of the festival. Their set was peppered with comments like “This is for the three of you who know who we are.” Their self-deprecation was charming and only strengthened by the fact that they brought out the big guns, playing “No One’s Gonna Love You” and “The Funeral.”
After that, things started getting tense. The crowd thickened and the tallest, widest men decided to take position in front of the shortest girls they could find, one of which being me. But it was okay, because I learned that The Black Keys will still blow your mind live, even if you can’t see them. The one big complaint I think I share with most concert attendees (who didn’t spend a bagillion dollars on VIP tickets) is the poor stage design. The giant horseshoe thing blocked most people’s view of the huge central monitor, and then the smaller side monitors were resting on the ground, making them impossible to see. So unfortunately, the majority of the audience had no view whatsoever of what was happening on stage. I did get one peak of Dan Auerbach amidst dancing my pants off, so it wasn’t a total fail. I definitely plan on checking The Black Keys out next time they’re in town. Cause even though my experience was audio-only, it was still out of control.
The only time Olivia Wilde will be totally ignored is if she’s talking right before a Foo Fighters show. I feel really guilty, but there were a lot of amazing public figures, speakers, and short films proceeding the Foo, and along with the rest of the audience, I didn’t pay attention to any of them. At one point, a big-wig-charity-doing-good-samaritan interrupted his own speech by noting, “I promise Foo Fighters will be out very soon.” The whole audience had the fever. And man oh man did the boys deliver. They played a well-crafted mini set that included songs everyone in the audience would know and the highest energy new tracks from Wasting Light. Dave proclaimed this to be their last performance in a good long while, and I felt privileged to be one of the witnesses. Luckily the giant men chose to block someone else’s view at this point and I was able to sort of see. Enough so that I took this poorly-composed video of the boys playing “These Days.”
Neil Young and Crazy Horse closed out the show with a semi-bizarre series of 20 minute long guitar wanderings, which I think people were equally blown away and perplexed by. I shall now refer to him as “The Godfather of Grunge” as his set made it clear that he was who my musical heroes looked up to. Dude has lived and been around the block, made evidence by his scowl and scuffed up guitars. He looks like that person in the neighborhood who is always on the porch with a Budweiser, but once he straps on his Les Pauls, that all changes. Neil Young unleashes in a way I totally wasn’t expected. Even during the surreal encore when he was joined by all the Foo Fighters, both Black Keys, the whole Band of Horses, and K’Naan in a rendition of “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World,” he kept it gritty and hard. Reverb and distortion abounded and it was freaking incredible. They all thought so: