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.

  • “Hello, children of Langerado!”
  • “Mike D. called me yesterday. He said it’s going to be good. We’re neighbors.”
  • “Member of the press, give that shirt to a fan.”
  • (To the fan who eventually got the green Obama shirt) “Are you going to wear that? Will it fit? It’s a medium.”
  • 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

    I’ve been showing you a lot of pictures from my flickr account. Here are a few Pauly took of us throughout the weekend from his flickr account. Click on through to see his whole collection.

    The long walk from the RV to the show

    The wife and I after a body cavity search

    Tired, unshowered, and pickin’

    Brad Willis

    Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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    6 Responses

    1. Strawberry Shortcake says:

      Fabulous, simply fabulous – I loved every second that I got to spend with my new pals!!!

      Love and light,

    2. franky5angel says:

      the “walk” is sooooo Reservoir Dog.


      Vote for David Cook (AI), he’s a local MO boy.

    3. Pauly says:

      I’m slowly editing videos of the disco tent and Uncle Ted’s impression of Michael Stipe. They should be posted within 24 hours.

    4. Aaron says:

      You aren’t the only one who doesn’t get REM. I find them bland most of the time. Since you missed the Felice Brothers, check out the site to download the show and see what you missed.

    5. Uncle Ted says:

      To be fair:
      1) I do like REM. They were the ONLY musical act playing from 9:30-11:15.
      2) I didn’t force anyone to go with me
      3) They were not the droids I was looking for. I rated the performance a solid ‘meh’.
      4) I heart strawberry shortcake
      5) I heart fakebooby girl
      6) And we were dancing, and singing, and movin’ to the groovin’, and just then, it hit me…somebody turned around and shouted…

    6. Pauly says:

      Play that funky music… white boy.