Little Bad Girl

The first thing that struck me about the Guetta concert was the sheer number of pretty, young, skinny things that had come, bravely totting numbers reserved for nightclubs far away from mothers’ concerns.

I was amazed. At all the gigs I’ve been to, I’ve never had this much girl company. The only thing that outshouted the speakers this time, was a chorus of squeals. I did not worry about leering creepy men. I did not worry about sweaty armpits and hard-stoned head-bobbers keeling over. I did not worry about my now-inferior smartphone getting whacked out of my back pocket. Why would I? When next to me, was a barely-sprouted-upper-lip boy taking shamefully crisp photographs on his Lumia. Yes, the 800.

This gig was bewildering from the word go.

My first brush was a tee we saw at the gates – an adequately censored phrasing of Guetta’s contribution to parlance with co-conspirators MoS, Fuck Me I’m Famous. Needless to say, sported by a suspect-looking uncle.

We’d arrived right in time. The LEDs lit up, screaming Guetta’s latest album title – and motto – NOTHING BUT THE BEAT. An unshaven, agreeably disheveled, and adorably dirty-straw blond Guetta made an entry. (cue squealing girls – and boys that did surprisingly accurate impressions of said squealing girls)

A few vague teases later, came a mashup of one of my favourite-of-all-time Guetta tracks, Love is Gone, and one of my latest shame-numbers, Little Bad Girl. It was delicious. And it didn’t last long enough. It didn’t even go anywhere. Before long, it trailed off into an unfortunately unyielding foreplay of Love Don’t Let Me Go.

The lineup that followed was pretty much a repeat of that sequence. Snatches of vocals from hit songs, blended beautifully with so-much-deja-vu riffs. Everything diffused before any serious boogie. It looked like Guetta had basically opened up all the channels of all his songs, and had gone apeshit with recurrent patterns in his discography.

Musically, mathematically, you were genius Guetta. But I’m sorry, I think nightclubs here have made me expect differently.

First, the sound setup was not noisy enough. I think the cheapest shortcut to being overwhelming, is to be loud. The setup just wasn’t. We tried three different positions in the crowd – center, off-center, even far back, and the acoustics weren’t hitting any spots.

Guetta, I know it was your first time here. But you should’ve done your homework. You should’ve first seen what your protégés here do with your music. They play you, your three minutes due. They play you, intro, crescendo, and cut apologetically out of your outro, into some undeserving Pitbull.

I don’t know if it’s a problem of song rights with the artists you collaborate with. But I was dying to hear what first got me hooked on to you – your 2004-dated dirty bit with JD Davis, The World is Mine. I’m astonished you picked your scream fest with Nicki Minaj (Turn Me On), over your feel-good bigger-hit with Rihanna (Who’s That Chick).

The strobe-lights and LED work was impressive. The console was mind-blowingly well-done for a space to be occupied by just one man. LED motifs paid a quick tribute to magnetic tapes (yay!) before moving eventually into Pokéball-looking turntables. The text work was beautiful. Guetta’s famous heart popped over and over (silhouetting barely-old oddly-necking couples). My favourite was the play in the “A” from the typography of his name on his album covers. Which, in hindsight, strongly resembles Free Mason symbolism on the Dollar (I’m not under influence, I promise). Every effort had gone into making Guetta look like an Electronica Messiah. And if you were watching, it probably worked.

For me, this was a coming-of-age concert as a Guetta fan – and as a Dance music nut. DJs are not meant to be experienced second-hand, at the scratches and whims of Ladies’ Nights specialists. Guetta, Live, outside the confines of his studio, someone else’s console, or even YouTube, actually has more personality. Something I’d like to witness in an amphitheater, not a Palace Grounds. I had no idea Guetta had touches of Trance in his fingers. Or inclinations towards quiet solos, until today. Even the way he faded in and out of bridges when his fans sang (horribly off-key), had an odd Guetta-fingerprint.

I suppose this is what a Guetta experience is like. Mostly an EDM jam-session. Not necessarily the House party that I’m used to crashing.

But I’m not writing him off. Not until I watch him at an MoS night.
For now, bring on Deadmau5.

In Shuffle Play We Trust.

Except, when it randomly throws in The Beatles.

Long ago, when puberty hit, I loved this band as the times asked me to. I too listened to their seemingly simple-minded lyrics laced with quantities LSD, and imagined just what these mega-huge-sunglass donning, funky-mic totting band must’ve been smoking to make sure every song of theirs tread that fine line between morose and manic ha-ha, desperate and devious, tripping and trapped.

There’s a tone to The Beatles that nobody has managed to copy-paste. It’s how they’ve managed to sum up adolescence so… correctly.

Their music is a whiny, skinny boy going on and on about how he’s happy and sad and not getting enough and still a maverick for getting lots, about how he doesn’t care about who you are, what you’re made of, but will still love you, about how you can never understand his pain, but hey, he doesn’t take life seriously. He’s charming. He’s talented. He can bend a guitar to any tune. He’s shameless about wanting attention. He’s a prick. He’s the misunderstood stud with an ear-piercing, malnutrition, occasional halitosis, messy hair. He’s lovable, selfish, a professional navel-gazer.

He’s the boyfriend I warn my friends against. He’s the clown at the party. He’s the one thing that stands out in your memory of teenage-hood. He’s the boy that got away with blue murder.

He’s exactly the kind of person I feel like slapping.

I think that’s what irritates me the most about The Beatles. That they’ve got the discomfort of growing up so right, that other musicians on shuffle-play seem abstract and useless like a painting you cannot relate with. Next to them, my favorite boo-hoo bands, Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains sound exactly like how my grandfather would describe them. Noisy.

At this point in time, there is exactly one Beatles song I can listen to, without grunting and manhandling the worn Next button. Across the Universe. Nothing cracks me up more than the “Jai GuruuuuuDeyyyva” quickly followed up with the “Om”.

What was our idea of spirituality, back then? Finding inner meanings to things. Nonsense lyrics were dissected, in hope that like the innards of a frog held tightly under-skin by tension, meaning would spring out at us, deliver us from certain consumerist doom.

How different were we then, from the libs back in the sixties? Thinking the giant corporations were out to pinch us out of our money, our freedom and our souls, one bra, one PSP, one burger at a time.

Over time, the reasons why we listen to some music, shift well and out of the realm of purely musical. The song of the first kiss. The song of the rains. The song of the night before exams. The song of the first time I really felt life is cruel (Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah. I still find it cruel that this man is dead.)

And in the event of such evolution, The Beatles are a strict no-no. Especially when you’re simply cruising to an uncomplicated love song about an effervescent woman like neon lights. Or about CIA peeking into my backyard.

Imagine, you’ve just finished a heart-rending viola about the shades of nothing. And then comes along some cheeky boy knowing how to get a kiss out of you.

Seventeen

the piano in the corner of the hall had grown accustomed to being alone.
underused, with each of its wires bending with age. its white and black shiny digits losing lustre, fading to the ochre of old, old paper coloured with cream shades of romance.

its life was inching past, and all it could do, was wait for someone to play god with it.

and today, someone opened the piano box.

the piano watched in expectant silence, the hesitant hands that hovered, invoking a long forgotten Beethoven or Brahms.

it smiled.

and then educated fingers drew a soul out. they glided together, over the quiet of memories stashed away for a later time. they flew, fluttered, wavered, meandered, sank, plunged
deep,
deep within a bond beyond the intrustion of words.

they rose to a crescendo:
the piano, hands, souls, shoulders, eyes, all – they were all laughing.

For an icecreamjunkie