Langerado 2008: Serendipity in a white tuxedo
I would’ve liked to have been in on the meeting at which someone decided to book R.E.M. for Langerado. I might have suggested to the promoters that festival attendees are more interested in music than they are preening, whining, self-important stars of a previous century. I might have suggested that Michael Stipe’s two-minute 38-second laments are not what people expect out of a headliner at one of the nation’s biggest festivals. I might have pointed out that name-dropping is sort of 1995 and taking off one’s shirt is reserved for glam rockers and Sting. I wasn’t invited to that meeting however, so I can offer only a few quotes from the R.E.M. show on Saturday night at Langerado. All of these come from Stipe–because he is the only one in his “band” that talks.
I wasn’t all that excited about going to the show in the first place. I was one of a few people of my generation who never really got R.E.M. But, Uncle Ted wanted to go and most of us were in “drink the Kool Aid” mode. We somehow arrived too early and ended up sitting on the ground in a circle before the show. At one point, I was heard to ask, “How did this happen?”
I actually had some faith when Stipe bounded onto the stage with some rock energy and belted out “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” Two songs later, he was swaying to “Drive” and I had started wondering if I was the only one in the crowd who wished he was somewhere else.
I couldn’t tell you how long the show lasted. By the time the encore came, I had already tried and failed twice in an attempt to leave. When the house lights came up, I was more than ready to go. The late night shows didn’t start for another hour and we decided collectively to walk back to camp for a rest. On the way out, Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot turned his head, like a dog that hears a bag of food being opened in the next room.
“Is that Michael Jackson?” he said, and started walking in the other direction.
I protested quietly. It wouldn’t have mattered if I yelled, because Neil was already halfway to the big white tent. My wife was trailing him. Pauly, Uncle Ted and I plodded along and wondered what silliness we were about to get ourselves into. When we breached the flaps of the tent, we heard some Jackson 5 quickly morph into some late 70s female funk. How we’d stumbled into a 70s dance party, I don’t know. All I know is that everyone in the tent was suddenly looking at us like their drugs had finally kicked in. They smiled, they screamed, the jumped with elation like we’d not seen in a long time. Why? Well, the men in our group were dressed like this.
We were the party.
“Thank you for coming to my wedding reception,” Neil screamed, “I love you all!”
For the next half an hour, we danced like 70s white boys. Women came from across the tent to grind and slobber. It was everything we never knew we wanted coming down on us like a truckload of polyester. The moment reached its zenith when the only pair of fake breasts on the entire Indian Reservation climbed Uncle Ted and treated him like a stripper pole. The irony was enough reason to let it happen.
Photo courtesy Dr. Pauly and his flickr account
When we finally made it back outside, a blonde girl ran up to us.
“I want to be your manager,” she gushed.
Dr. Pauly looked at her straight in the face and didn’t crack a smile. “We don’t need a manager,” he said with a little more force than I expected. “We need a choreographer.”
We walked away without another word.
Langerado Pictures of the Day
The long walk from the RV to the show
The wife and I after a body cavity search
Tired, unshowered, and pickin’