the music issue

jk it's just two items related to music

Tomorrow marks a whole five years since I saw Bruce Springsteen perform live at Madison Square Garden on January 27, 2016. It was a different era: Obama was the president. I did not have a dog. You could attend live concerts at Madison Square Garden. Springsteen was performing the entirety of The River on this tour, and that was nice, because it was an album I’d never listened to very closely (it’s long) even though it has plenty of great songs on it.

The reason I bring this up is internet-related, I swear. The floor of the arena was divided into two sections, a front and back, with the front section surrounded by a walkway. This let Springsteen descend into the crowd (kinda) and interact with them. During “Hungry Heart,” he took a stroll through this pathway and, for some reason, stopped right in front of my friend and me, who were right up against the barricade.

What do you do when Bruce Springsteen stops a foot and a half away from you to sing into your face? Are you supposed to touch him? Where? Are you supposed to sing along? Oh god what if he puts the mic in your face and you don’t know the words? Should you take a pic? Should you ask for a selfie? It is a paralyzing and exhilarating scenario that seems to last forever.

I did none of those things. I just kinda mouthed along to the words. I didn’t even pull out my phone to take a picture, because that felt very disrespectful and rude!!! I did not pay the obscene rate that Springsteen charges for tickets so I could get some online clout. I did, however, manage to get a wildly bad picture as he was walking away.

Brian, please get to the internet angle on this story. The next day, Bruce Springsteen tweeted this photo of himself and his new best friend (me, just to his left). Would I love to have a full-res photo of this? Yes. Do I know who to contact to make that happen and am I too nervous to pursue it? Also yes.

Huh! I guess I should’ve realized that in a public space in the immediate vicinity of a celeb, someone might take a picture of it. But I did not so seeing this tweet was a nice surprise. Given that this was a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden, I figured that there was probably other evidence over this interaction than the blurry, overexposed photo I took and the wide-angle crowd shot. Kinda like the 2008 movie Vantage Point (I have not seen it, no idea if this comparison works).

So I went on YouTube a few days after the concert, searched something like “bruce springsteen hungry heart msg,” and discovered a video uploaded by a user named angela450nyc. I am forever in her debt because from a fair distance, she managed to capture the whole entire interaction.

Here’s me, being very calm, cool, and collected while in the immediate vicinity of Bruce Springsteen.

I’ve watched this clip a lot. Those unfortunate enough to know me have seen me beam even talking about it, and then I pull it up on my phone and shove it in their face. It is so much better than any photo I could have taken myself, and thanks to a random person on the internet and the indexing power of YouTube, I have a copy of it forever.

I would also like to point out, in a very petty way, that many people who were significantly older than me had their phones out. I’m smug about this. Boomers apparently also love disrespecting their idols by shoving technology in their faces. The great equalizer.

I’ve done this type of search a few times — gone to a public event, and then afterwards scanned YouTube uploads and Instagram geotags to see if I showed up in anyone else’s shots — always with far less success than I had with Bruce. I admit that this habit is kinda (very) weird, and I obviously I have not done it in a while because there are no public events. The closest I’ve come to the Springsteen video is a 2011 video of Jeff Mangum performing “Two-Headed Boy” in which you can’t see the audience but I know I was like 10 feet away from whoever recorded this and the entire audience is singing along (everyone kept clapping after th efirst encore and nobody left, so he did a second encore under the condition that people sing along). The Internet Archive also hosts a 2010 episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in which I bopped along behind Spoon, but in the footage it looks like I’m standing stone-still — one of the few life events I’d love to get a do-over on.

As someone who does not like posing for photos, and who prefers candids, this is more interesting to me. There are clear downsides to this stuff given the bazillion reports about social media platforms are being plumbed by or directly collaborating with law enforcement. But there’s also this odd, novel aspect in which given a few pieces of data — a date, a location, a name, a song — you can find evidence of yourself from a new angle.

sorry if that’s sappy. baba booey!


rasputin 2.0

Briefly: I was scrolling through TikTok and it appears that some users have discovered Boney M.’s “Rasputin” which is a disco song about Rasputin, the Russian mystic who was packin’. The dance (“dance”) that goes along with it involves sweeping your arms in front of your torso and then flexing your muscles. Like so:

It is driving me nuts, because there is, to my mind, a canonical “Rasputin” dance, and it was created by the makers of the dance video game Just Dance 2 roughly a decade ago. The Just Dance choreography is very famous, because of viral videos of people doing it really well and having a good time doing it. It’s fun to watch.

This is the most famous “Rasputin” video and it’s one of those comfort-food clips I load up every so often to marvel at.

A more popular video has the above clip set side-by-side with video of the game’s performance, if you are curious how closely they match the instructions (the answer is “perfectly”).

The footage on TikTok of people doing the wrong “Rasputin” dance creates an uncomfortable, unscratchable itch in the back of my brain. It’s like: imagine if you were at a party and the DJ started playing “The Macarena” and everyone rushed out to the dance floor and started doing a dance that was absolutely not the Macarena. It’s like watching aliens interact with earth culture. And it’s not even an age thing, because I know Zoomers play Just Dance.

Anyway, the Just Dance/TikTok war is the only culture war I’m invested in.


Elsewhere…