I’d say there’s a 70100% chance I’m live-blogging the Sandy Relief concert tonight. Stay tuned.

What to expect?

The concert will feature Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Dave Grohl, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Chris Martin, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Eddie Vedder, Roger Waters, Kanye West, The Who, Paul McCartney plus more artists to be announced!

What to expect from me? A stutter-start since this Thai food delivery is late.

…Which is actually kind of fitting considering the performers’ average age, and the length of time between the storm and the fundraiser. Everybody’s late.

I wish they didn’t lead the promo text with Bon Jovi. I wouldn’t say I “dislike” Bon Jovi, but I would say that even my 7th grade self was a little skeptical.

Show opens with media reel of storm coverage, and my shocking re-realization that I don’t know Springsteen’s post-1984 oeuvre. Explanation? I like irony. A lot. Double-down with the one word form to demonstrate: ALOT.

First crowd pan shots reveal: “Black on stage, white in the audience” will be tonight’s rule.

I see all the rich dudes in the front row wore their “rock star blazers.”

In serioso: Bruce’s spoken interlude here is a pretty eloquent comment on how the Jersey Shore’s signature characteristic is economic and ethnic diversity and how that is threatened by the storm. I hope we also realize it’s threatened by the rebuilding to come. As people decide not to rebuild (particularly if they decide not to rebuild for economic reasons), it stands to become much less diverse.

“Born to Run” duet. That’s right. Bruce brought Jon Bon Jovi and his long sleeve leather shirt and his seriously weak voice on stage. I’m sure Bruce can hear him. But us? Not so much.

I’m not hating on the shirt. I’m just sympathy sweating.

The sound guys must be reading this. JON’S MIC UP. UP MORE. MORE. Ah…

[Secret wish: have those two read Jersey Shore scripts ala “Celebrity Autobiography.”]

Billy Crystal makes joke about “Springsteen opening” for him, followed by joke at ConEd’s expense, and list of places you can look at or listen to the thing you’re viewing. …And the Homeland joke. And the Bloomberg joke. And the Jewish joke! And the Chris Christie joke! TWINKIE JOKE. Wave to Chris Christie. It’s his 10,231th Springsteen concert! (That’s my joke.)

Billy said people in China are watching this (“and Africa”). I wonder if they’re like, “Who is this guy? Did he do a voice in The Lion King?”

Wait. Did he just say they have “phone banks of celebrities?” Holy crap. Can I pick my celebrity? Can it be Lindsay Lohan? Can I tell her to hit herself in the face with the phone for an extra donation?

Meh. Instead we get Susan Sarandon.

We now hear a flute–or an alto sax–before we even see Roger Waters. NOW WITH MORE WHITE SNEAKERS.

No one likes a drum solo like this drummer likes a drum solo. No singer likes a helo sound effect like this band likes a helo sound effect.


It seems the Roger Waters Corporation (TM) has hired a dance troupe of children, put white mime’s gloves on some, graffiti/paint-splattered mom jeans on all, T-shirts with “FEAR BUILDS WALLS” on them, and made them hip hop dance ala Krush Groove or Breakin’ (or Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, for that matter). And Water follows this with what appears to be a slide guitar unplugged verse and chorus of “The Wall.” THIS REALLY HAPPENED.

MONEY! A song plagued by its jazz ambitions and saxophone solo. “US us us us and THEM them them.” What I am willing to say is that Eddie VedderOTHER SINGER Robbie Wycoff has one hell of a voice (which is totally wasted on this song).

Goddamnit. After 10 minutes of that, I’m depressed as hell. And it’s not over. “HELLO IS THERE ANYBODY IN THERE?” This is Eddie Vedder now. He’s got that crazy tremble when he sings. That’s how you know it’s him. You can’t know by looking at the stage because there are three male singers, all of whom look like Scott Stapp, except without that greasy sheen. INDLUDING VEDDER. “Comfortably Numb” was written for him, no? Then how come Water keeps singing verses? Nobody puts Gen X in the corner.

Ha! Rogers just went to one side of the stage, trying to wind up the crowd, looking exactly that that crank addict dad that was on the A&E rehab show two nights ago, and Vedder goes to manage his corner…and stands, looking wild-eyed at the crowd, clapping in rhythm. …And we’re done. I now understand why Who fans did all those slow-you-down drugs. They were just trying to keep up.

Fecking hell. Adam Sandler is doing a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on the very same afternoon I correctly identified it in a pop sociology talk quiz. It borders on brilliant. You Tube this.

Ben Stiller at the phone bank. Whoopie’s “really talking loudly.” Jessie Jackson gets one small sliver of screen access and uses it for a wide smile and wave. WE SEE YOU JESSIE.

Kristin Stewart dressed up as Speed Racer to share some statistics that she herself tells us our “human minds” are not equipped to understand. And then we learn her real purpose is to frame a package on Jon Bon Jovi visiting his hometown.

IT’S MY LIFE. Thank god for wireless mics, otherwise he wouldn’t get to crawl through the crowd like that. Very verile.

Also, from the Twitter dispatch department: Brian Williams took us into the phone bank on the last segment and commented to Ben Stiller that you “couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a celebrity.” Two things are now happening on Twitter: criticism of Williams’s insensitivity to victims of the storm, and nominations for which celebrities should be hit with dead cats.

I’M A COWBOY. ON A STEEL HORSE I RIDE. The first song the crowd is singing along to. End times, my friends. End times. Also as evidence: I forgot to talk about Richie Sambora’s double-necked guitar.

Bruce Springsteen gets called on stage for…oh, who cares? If you’re a Bruce fan, you already know.

—Okay. If even one thing about this grey haired leather vested celebrity phone bank disaster has made you smile or frown, please donate using this link. Give a dollar or more if you can.—-

{I haven’t listened to this much continuous rock music since probably 1994.}

LIVING ON A PRAYER. Jon let the audience sing the first chorus, and that was pretty neat. One thousand fists pumping in the air kind of neat. But the tight audience shots kind of suck because everyone’s really pale and white and tired but also drunk and having trouble following the rhythm.

Dispatch from email: My mother would like to know if Bruce Springsteen was wearing underwear.

Another phone bank close-up/interview and Williams DOUBLES DOWN ON THE DEAD CAT.

Twitter dispatch: “Dead cat” is now being used in drinking game parties across the globe.

Jon Stewart takes the stage, cutting off some dude in a motorcycle jacket trying to donate a million dollars on camera. Stewart’s the Jersey Shore spokesperson, and the first to make a Chanukkah joke.

Eric Clapton. ONCE I LIVED THE LIFE OF A MILLIONAIRE. It seems that my Twitter music people are all taking bathroom breaks (or, if you like #bathroombreak) during the Clapton set. But for me, he’s the first to hit the right mark in terms of song choice. GOT TO GET BETTER IN A LIL WHILE. Every so often I have a day dream about what Clapton would look like and do if he was still a smack addict (snort! I first wrote “snack addict”). It ain’t pretty. DOWN AT THE CROSSROADS. I don’t know who’s playing bass for Clapton tonight, but he’s killing it. (Update: Willie Weeks)

Dispatch from facebook: This is not so much a benefit as it is a message to God: If you want us to shut up, don’t do that to us again.

Chelsea Clinton is now pitching for donations. She’s wearing Invisalign. I’d swear on it.

Jimmy Fallon to talk about Coney Island.

Email dispatch: My mother is unaware that male spanx exist, and Twittericos are loving to joke about Bon Jovi wearing them (or taking them off now that his set’s over).

ROLLING STONES. Mick Jagger is fit–fit as hell–but looks increasingly like a Shar Pei. Jagger makes the “largest collection of old English musicians ever” joke. I think Olde English. I WAS BORN IN A CROSSFIRE HURRICANE. We’re on the second verse, Mick has taken his jacket off, and now three buttons down on the shirt. There’s a black tee underneath. What’s the over-under that we see Jaggernipple before the set’s end?


Stephen Colbert. PUFFY. And that nice lady that plays 13 on House. They’re talking about the evacuation of Langone Medical Center. An evacuation I find totally heroic. ALICIA KEYS.

I hasten to note that Keys is the only woman on the bill. #thanksrockgods #youmisogynists

She’s doing a beautiful set–such gravitas. IT WILL ONLY GET BETTER. She’s alone on stage, behind the piano. And she’s captivating. And Twitter would like you to know that it actually sucked because she asked people to hold their cellphones up to “light up MSG” and show love. I didn’t follow her gimmick either (although Samsung was a major sponsor–no?), but I still thought it was pretty.

The Sopranos have taken over the phone bank. Steve Buscemi–who also appears to be drunk–is framing a packing on the Rockaways and The Grey Beards–a group of overweight, overlubricated, ex-cops and firefighters and such who are hijacking and confusing this whole deal.

The Who. Omg Pete Townshend is the man. I told you I met him once, right? In a restaurant in Nashville. Okay, I just saw him, but he was the next table over, and we completely made eye contact. He asked me to marry him, but I was all like, “naw. Well? Naw. I’m okay trying to figure out music without some kind of genius muscling in.” [How many people care about the Who only because of that crime TV show? It just occurred to me that’s why they crowd is so amped in the instrumental sections.]

My new year’s resolution, inspired by the Who: If I start marching-as-dancing, I turn that fascist nonsense music off. [Daltrey was dancing-marching for much of that song.]

The conceit was to insert video of Keith Moon–Keith Moon of the radically idiotic alcoholic downward spiral–and to fill as much air time as possible with Who songs. SURE PLAYS A MEAN PINBALL. At this point, Roger Daltrey has turned orange. Does Townshend have to do swinging mega circles with his left arm, just to even things out? Now it’s time for the theme song of that other TV show. OUT HERE IN THE FIELDS.

We lost the bet on Jaggernipple, but we got Daltreychesticles instead. So…that’s…fair? Anyway, he’s playing the harmonica, so that’s…totally hot. I mean, what little girl (straight) or little boy (gay) doesn’t grow up wishing they could see a 68 year old rock star, shirtless, hammer on a harmonica? WHO’S GOT TWO THUMBS?

Sweet minty Jesus, could we get someone on stage who is younger than 50 years old, and works in a genre other than rock? This is that moment in every liveblogging experience where I realize what a massive mistake I’ve made in deciding to spend my time in this fashion, and I just wish I could have known three hours ago how unhappy I’d be right now. And what it took? Townshend playing acoustic guitar. And Daltrey’s “Jesus pose” didn’t help.

I kid you not–five different people who have been Tweeting this thing with me…music critics all of them..all just announced they were turning off the concert. It’s bad people. Bad.

Kanye West. Now maybe we’re saved. Who is wearing a leather skirt. No, I’m not kidding. It’s pleated black leather. He’s “playing” “Click,” and I forgot how heavy the beat is. POWER. JESUS WALKS. And I am told it is a “kilt.” My friends at the show tell me the prime front seats cleared out for Kanye’s set. DIAMONDS. This is like a power mix set. TOUCH THE SKY. He’s putting his all into this. He’s playing to the cameras (to the 8 billion) but he’s trying so hard to win the crowd. GOLDDIGGER. Two concerts I would give anything to see: Kanye West and Jay Z. THROW YOUR HANDS UP IN THE SKY. He’s drenched in sweat at this point. Fully committed to the performance. All over the stage. TOAST FOR THE SCUMBAGS. He’s also censoring himself–not singing the curses. WORKITHARDERMAKEITBETTER.

I just laughed out loud at Kanye throwing down the mic as he left the stage. AWESOME.

Now there’s an SNL skit [the “drunk uncle”], which I knew would happen and dreaded in the same way I do “reading week” before final exams.

Jake Gyllanhaal (who cares how it’s spelled) on Long Beach, LI. “Speaking of drunk uncle” says Twitter. [Jakey’s rocking the full beard and wild-eyed giggle.]

Billy Joel. If I hadn’t just seen a little Kayne, this might be my seppuku moment. Just checked the listings. They say this lasts until 1230. CAN OUR HERO SURVIVE? “Moving out” helped. Joel plays “Merry Christmas”–a verse–into NEW YORK STATE OF MIND. Which fosters the kind of warm and fuzzy gooey thing that was so missing during the phalanx of Euro rock. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Joel’s probably the only post-60 dude who took the stage tonight who could carry this falsetto. Clean living, people. Clean living. FRIDAY NIGHT I CRASHED YOUR PARTY. I should also mention that Billy Joel’s lighting designer did a totally fantastic job. I know that sounds crazy, but I can guarantee that there’s been some concert in your life that was that much better because the lights worked with the music…and one that was that much worse. #respectcraft and all that. COME OUT VIRGINIA.

I completely retract my earlier threat to self-mutilation. That was adorable and fun.

Blake Lively is here to tell us about the terrible tragedy that took place in Fairfield, Ct. Now, Chris Martin, who appears to be universally disliked by the Twits. I USED TO RULE THE WORLD.

Can we ask him where his friend Jay Z is? Or is the answer: “pouting that this event wasn’t in his arena?” Instead, he brought Michael Stipe. Whom I have IN FACT actually met in a real live way, in a way that involved a conversation and started WITH HIM CALLING ME OVER TO HIS TABLE by waggling his pointy finger. Update: It turns out I met him on the last night that REM existed as a band…the very night they wrapped their last album. That makes me…historic, or something.

Martin is playing acoustic guitar, and they’re both playing Losing My Religion. We might be getting to the point where we have a real discussion about whether Chris Martin or his wife is the better singer.

Red Hook into Breezy Point package. Tarantino uses “god damn” for emphasis. Unnecessary. Intrinsically astounding. Point Breezy Volunteer Fire Department for President.

Paul McCartney. I had enough during the Olympics. This is adding insult to injury. For the second song, he sent it–making his fingers into a “W”–“out to all those Wings fans.” Now this third one is with “Ms. Diana Krall.” They played that awful Valentine song. SCHMALTZ. New York hates your song. Go home.

BLACKBIRD. A small amount of Macca redemption for playing that. And now what’s billed as a “Nirvana reunion” which has somehow sucked the airspace out of this promoter’s brain and made them the show closers. Or, one hopes they are (I’m tired!). Despite the calming purple velour shirt and pea green jeans on the bassist, and Dave Grohl safely tucked behind the drum set and pretty far away from a working microphone, this is an explosion of crap. How anyone thinks this generates money for Sandy victims is beyond the powers of my imagination.

Word on the street (aka in the venue, on the side where there’s a view of backstage) suggests there’s no all star finale in our future. This, and another McCartney song, is enough to convince me to sleep.

I would normally seek some lesson in all of this–some reason it was important, some lesson for the future. But I’ll have to figure it out in the morning, when I’m less sad and angry at Wings.

So I was done, and but watched Paul McCartney almost go up in flames, and then the finish–ALICIA KEYS NEW YORK STATE OF MIND.

This morning: I still don’t know what to make of any of that. The obvious answer is that the promoters booked acts that were in town or looking for heritage shows and who would appeal to the old$. The inclusion of Kanye is then just totally befuddling, and his astonishing willingness to WERK makes him an even bigger hero of mine since the context was one step shy of him walking onto a country club stage, or a DAR meeting.

How does any of it reflect New York, or Sandy? One of the things most New Yorkers love about this city is the proximity of rich and poor. It’s a matter of degrees–of course there are cloistered members of both groups–and of course other cities offer contexts (e.g., public transportation) with similar opportunities. Here, and perhaps illustrated best in the shit populism of a douchebag like Donald Trump, we’re PROUD of it. But something else that you could see at the concert–a less celebrated attribute of the city–was how generational our tastes are. The older folks–especially men–and both rich and poor–love the shit out of some Billy Joel, or the Who, or fecking Jon Bon Jovi. This is totally unrelatable to almost everyone I know who lives here and is under 40. The idea that you’d rep New York without female artists, or Hispanic artists, or (very many) black artists; the idea that your core aesthetic would be rock; the idea that stages should be filled with musicians, with not a dancer in sight–this is nonsensical to the young’z and so our city wasn’t on stage.

I haven’t heard the count this morning of how much cash that brought in. I hope the number is in the billions. People need help, and if listening to the entire Who Best Of album is what it takes to get it, I’m fine with that.



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6 responses to “12-12-12

  1. Who is the tenor player with Waters, and do my eyes deceive me or is he playing a Balanced Action, a horn not made since the mid-1950s?

  2. Jenn Lena

    Good lord, Jay. I have no idea. I’ll say “yes,” because you sound like someone who’s right.

  3. jimi

    2 things at the moment – 1: was Jimmy Fallon drunk? 2 – It’s been said before, but it bears repeating, The Rolling Stones and HD do not need to be paired.

  4. Jenn Lena

    Word is that Fallon was drunk. There’s also a minor dispute over whether The Roots are “NY” enough to have mandated their place on the bill. There’s also a “special guest” paired with Chris Martin, and the word is that may be Jay Z, or god unleashes the rivers of blood.

  5. jimi

    Who complains if this thing is just 2 hours of Alicia Keys instead of the geezerfest it’s been? Oh wait, old people’s wallets do.

  6. Jenn Lena

    Chicks rule.

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