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Live Earth's Internet Tendency

The Live Earth effort was so huge that it was impossible for one humble reviewer to digest it all. I spent most of Saturday hunkered down in the basement media center with my iBook hooked up to the stereo, watching the different feeds from all the stages live on, which in and of itself was pretty cool, as was the basement media center, considering at was about 100 degrees out in the real world, so nice timing there. I also listened a bit to XM Radio's audio coverage.

The job on Live Earth did was truly a breakthrough in using the Internet to stream live coverage of an event. Utterly comprehensive. It probably took someone with the mammoth servers of a Microsoft to do this, because I'm sure the demand must have been overwhelming and yet only once during the day did I encounter a "servers too busy" message. The sound quality was excellent, and since I have a Mac, I was using Flip4Mac to convert the Windows Media Player streams into QuickTime. The results were great. There was absolutely no skipping, no freezing . . . I couldn't have asked for more, really. The experience was far superior to watching the NBC highlight reel on Saturday night. It reminded me of watching NBC's coverage of the Olympics when the games are held overseas - that is, truncated and after-the-fact.

That being said, I think I was able to watch a fair amount of the proceedings, and was able to compile a few choice moments.

Broadcast Blues:
  • Live Earth's Television Trouble
  • 1. One of the main themes seemed to be music celebrities talking about how they're powering down their lifestyles. Uh-huh. During one XM Radio interview I heard, I think, three of the Black Eyed Peas saying they've traded in their Hummers for hybrids. Now that's a real sacrifice. The fact that they all had Hummers just gave me another reason to oppose slick pop-rap, as if I needed another one. Cool counterpoint: When Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran began his Wembley set by saying, "Everyone who didn't come here on a private jet raise your hand!"

    2. Dave Matthews on NBC talking about his non-polluting biodiesel tour bus. This isn't the same bus he was using in Chicago when his driver dumped poop onto a tourist boat on the river, is it? Because he said, "Well, we're still polluters. We're still a touring band." So I guess that means they're still being, uh, wasteful. Maybe his cool new biodiesel bus has on onboard composting apparatus that renders all Matthews Band feces into an inert, biodegradable mass. I hope to God that's the case.

    3. Is it just me, or was it weird that Madonna had a bunch of pre-pubescent kids dressed in Catholic school girl uniforms out on stage with her? I mean, given her long history of sexually fetishizing just that kind of thing? Maybe she's just so far beyond this sort of irony that it's come full around the bend to mean nothing. If so, sorry.

    4. Kanye West with the Police. A disaster. Proving that nothing is more white than the Police, both the band and the force.

    5. On the other hand, Spinal Tap in London was truly awesome. Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins) was in fine voice, Christopher Guest (Nigel Tufnel) never has chewed gum with more conviction and Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls) led the greatest multiple bass solo session of all time on "Big Bottom." If there is one thing Live Earth should be known for musically, it is that. McKean kept introducing bassist after bassist, about 20 in all from all the participating bands, including about three from Madonna's band, with the comment, "Eventually everyone does Madonna." Classic!

    6. Wolfmother in Sydney. My goodness, these guys can do psychedelic rock like nobody's business. It was the first time I had ever seen this band live, and it was a revelation. Of course I had heard their song "Woman," and knew that it among the best hard-edged guitar rock I had heard recently. But their stage presences were positively mystical. Andrew Stockdale's voice is high-pitched and thus a matter of taste, something that I think weighed a bit negatively in my purely audio assessment of them. But that voice, when you can see him working it onstage and adding it to his Hendrix-like guitar antics and white-guy Afro, is magical. Bassist-keyboardist Chris Ross was also completely out of control.

    7. Also in Sydney, the John Butler Trio. To lump these guys in with the usual jam band suspects is a real disservice. That may be where they came from, but they have elevated the genre to a different level. Butler's ability to use his open-finger-tuned acoustic guitar like a Stratocaster is unlike anything I've ever seen, and double-bassist Shannon Birchall wields an upright like it's a toy. Wow. Plus you've got a singing drummer (Michael Barker) - always a good thing. Butler's specific message was, "Don't let them sell you nuclear power as a 'clean' energy technology, 'cause it's not." Well said.

    8. I love Al Gore. But please, someone find him a pair of jeans that are a bit more flattering. If such a thing is possible.

    9. When he opened the U.S. portion of the Live Earth festivities in Washington at the National Museum of the American Indian, Gore praised the Museum for providing a last-minute venue in the District for the event, saying it wasn't the cavalry that rode to the rescue, but the Indians. Nice, although he had already used the line the on the news the night before. He also didn't name names as to why there was a problem in the first place . . . he didn't want to be a buzzkill. But I have no such compunctions. It was James "Greatest Hoax Ever" Inhofe.

    10. The Foo Fighters. Is there a better "big" rock band in the world? I wish I were Dave Grohl. I really, really wish I were Dave Grohl.


    Posted on July 9, 2007

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