10th Aug2007

Virgin Fest Part 1: Amy Winehouse and Cheap Trick

by Will

“Nah, I spent 2 years in the Cub Scouts & realized its potential to make me queer.”

OK, so we’re working backwards here. Virgin Festival, and then I’ll get to the SD adventures.

First off, there are just some movies that shouldn’t air on non-paid television. Friday, for example. It’s just not worth it. The thing makes almost no sense, considering how drastically MTV/VH-1 edited it. Another one? Showgirls. Don’t believe me? Stay up late one night, and check out your local MyNetworkTv channel. It’s on there, and it’s even worse than the uncut version. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Recently, the job has really cranked the perks up to 11. Sure, I may not be able to pay rent anymore, but I’ll never go naked as they seem to hand out polo shirts weekly. To amp that up, though, the vendors have started getting in on the action. One of our newest and biggest accounts is Virgin Comics. A subsidiary of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin empire, the Virgin Comics line primarily conveys classic, Indian stories and mythologies to a Western audience. OK, that’s enough of a plug. So, I met their new head of marketing in San Diego, and he was awesome. In fact, he was going to line up a meeting that you’ll learn about in the SD post. In any case, when we got back to the home office, Virgin had provided us with tickets to the Virgin Festival (with guest area access), being held at Pimlico where Preakness takes place.

Now, I’ve never been a concert guy. Whenever these kinds of music fests come to town, they sound cool to me, but my fear of crowds takes over, and I talk myself out of the idea. Well, here was a free ticket. And I hadn’t really paid much attention to the guest list, but one name caught my eye. Yes, the name of a strung-out goddess: Amy Winehouse.

Anyone following my recent posts and myspace/facebook activity knows that I love this girl. Not necessarily in a sexual way, as she’s a cross between Julie Kavner (the voice of Marge Simpson, who actually looks more like Aunt Selma) and that dude from Dead of Alive (they sang the “You spin me right round, baby” song). Not exactly an erection-inspiring equation. It’s not about the sexy, though; it’s about the tunes, man. Her album changed my life. OK, I won’t go that far. If anything, I think it was the timing of her album.

For the uninformed, Back to Black is an album that Amy recorded during a break in her tumultuous relationship with now-husband, Blake Civil-Fielder. She’s said that she wasn’t exactly inspired, but rather *had* to write those songs. If she didn’t get them out, she simply would have died. Dramatic, non? Sure, everyone knows her because of “Rehab”. Haha, she’s singing about how her label wants her to go to rehab. It’s not exactly funny. She was so depressed, and had abused enough substances to get to that point. Sure, it’s a cool, rebellious track, but it’s also a cry for help (especially if you’ve read an entertainment blog in the past 48 hrs). My point is that her main single is almost a joke track to some, while the real meat of the album is what follows. “You Know I’m No Good” is about her warning that she was going to fuck up her relationship, but still forcing her lover and herself to learn, the hard way, that she was right all along. “Love is a Losing Game” is about her regretting taking a chance on love, as it’s a gamble where the house always wins. Now, I’ve never been a lyrics person, so those were just a bonus. This woman could sing me the phone book, and I’d be putty. She just hit me at the right time. I was like a 15 yr old girl who’d just gotten her first Dashboard Confessional CD after being burned by her first bf at theatre camp (it’s OK, honey. He was gay!).

Anyway, seeing Amy on the card was enough for me to go. Screw the Smashing Pumpkins, or 311, or even the Police. I love all of those guys, but they melted away when I realized I might have the chance to sing “No, no, no!” in the presence of my beehived queen.

People were wondering if she’d actually show up. She’s been blowing off gigs left and right due to “exhaustion” and whatnot. But she came. And she performed. And I’m left with mixed feelings. On the one hand, she was magnificent. She really sang those songs, sometimes better than the CD. On the other hand, performance was phoned in at times, due to the fact that a racetrack was not an ideal venue for her. You need to see her in the small jazz club, where the acoustics take over. She is *not* a stadium performer. So, I think it might have been the deadest part of the Saturday bill, but I still loved every minute of it. I saw Amy! Right before she went into rehab! Lord knows what she’s gonna be like if it takes…

But wait, there are more acts! If you had ever told me that I’d get to see Cheap Trick perform “The Flame” live, I’d have kicked you in the balls. Well, now I would also owe you an apology and an ice pack. That was one of my 80s dreams come true. If they had driven out in K.I.T.T., with Catherine Bach in the passenger seat, I might’ve had a stroke.

I saw Ben Harper, but he was pretty boring, really. And while people might kill me for this, I have to say the same thing about the Beastie Boys. Sorry, dudes. That Jamaican waiter from the old MTV commercials would be glad to know that hip-hop is no longer ruled by “Tree Jewish White boyeez”. Also probably blasphemy? The Police bored me. I’m the fool who likes the Sting solo stuff better than the group stuff. He’s not one of those artists like Peter Cetera or Phil Collins, where it’s next to impossible to tell if it’s a group or solo song. No, the Police stuff is drastically different from “When We Dance” or “Fields of Gold”. Sorry, but a brotha loves his soft rock.

You know who rocked the house? Felix da Housecat! My dance phase was about 8 years ago, but he brought it back in full force. On Saturday, the main party was in the dance tent. It felt weird experiencing that scene with sunlight beaming in, but that didn’t stop the club kids. They were tweaking out all over the place. There was one chick who just sat near the door, pinching air. If you were close enough, and the fates allowed, she managed to pinch you ass. Otherwise, she was just pinching, at nothing particular. E is a helluva drug! Felix was awesome, though. I know he has this huge club rep, but to actually be there, and experience it…

Anyway, the overall festival was cool. It was hot as balls, but every tattooed, under-30, local music enthusiast seemed to be in the house. I just couldn’t believe that Sir Richard actually attended the thing. I was minding my own, in the guest tent, when he just kind of walks by. There he was, like a blonde-haired Jesus, swaddled in PacSun robes. Too quick for a picture, but slow enough for a memory. Man, I should be a friggin’ poet…

To Be Continued…