Blogging Live8, Part 2

On the day of the concert, I still hadn’t gotten any information on how I would pick up my press badge and was starting to get a bit nervous that I wouldn’t get in at all.

To be honest, I was more interested in the whole “how do I blog an event” than I was interested in going to the event itself. In fact, Björk was the only one of the lineup that I was familiar with, though I did see “Dreams Come True” play at a small club years ago.

I sent frantic emails to whoever I could, my girlfriend was on the phone with the press desk at the venue up to and past 2:00, when the show started and I began to give up hope. Fumi from Technorati had actually taken the train out to the event to see what she could negotiate for the ten bloggers. I think it was around 4:00 when I finally gave up and said “screw it.” It was quite a disappointment, and there was no where I could find to place the blame; Technorati had done everything they could, especially Fumi-san, who should be sainted for her efforts and I had no idea who the local agency was that had dropped the ball.

Just then, Fumi called back, elated. “We got the passes and you guys are getting in.” The passes she got weren’t the ones that were supposed to have been arranged, she had gotten them to issue new ones. I grabbed my cameras and got on the train for the hour long ride to Makuhari.

When I got to the venue, I was surprised at how big it was — Makuhari Messe’s web page showed the layout of the space and it looked to be about the size of a high school gymnasium. There were several spaces that could be combined by opening sliding walls, but this concert was just in one of them. Seeing it though, it was huge, like an airplane hangar in which you could park a dozen jumbo jets. I went to the press desk, gave my name and they handed me the badge without hesitation. “The press room is over there” the woman told me, pointing to the first of a series of uniformed young women who politely guided me on my way. I was in. Now what?

Pressroom

I got to the press room which was large and had about fifty people in it, some working on laptops, others watching the concert on a television monitor and some sitting around just reading or talking. I’d thought about bringing a laptop, but decided against it, thinking it would be too geeky and thinking there wouldn’t be wireless internet, neither of which were correct.

At this point, I was at a loss as to what to do. I sat around for a few minutes, wondering if this was the only place I was allowed, then went to the hallway and talked to one of the guide women and asked “So, with this pass, where can I go? Can I go backstage? (No.) Can I go to the concert floor? (Yes.) Can I take pictures there? (No.)”

I left my cameras in the press room and headed down to the concert press area on the concert floor, up front and off to the right. The concert goers were in these penned-in areas, so it did feel pretty cool to be able to walk pretty freely around the areas where they couldn’t. Björk was playing.

I went to the press area which had a very good view of the stage where there were a lot of the press standing around listening. They weren’t really doing much of anything, not taking pictures or making notes or anything, not even tapping their feet to the music.

The show was great. Björk, of course, is a unique and strange and wonderful creature, but I hadn’t anticipated how totally powerful she is. When she sings, it feels like she’s ad-libbing everything or perhaps channeling some vocal energy from a distant Nordic planet. The songs were ones I knew, but I was now hearing them for the first time. She moved around the stage as if pushing against an unseen force, a wind that only she could feel, appropriately enough in an outfit that seemed a re-interpretation of a kimono on a butterfly theme. Here eyes were thickly outlined in black and her hair done up in two buns on the sides of her head. The songs were peppered with her signature wails that sent shivers down my spine. She certainly wasn’t screaming or yelling though, every sound was perfectly controlled. I don’t think there’s a word for how she sings, nor do I think there should be — it’s just Björk.

After she went offstage, I made my way through the cavernous space, the adjoining space, this one equal in size, but nearly empty, except for a hundred or so people resting, leaning against the wall and a row of matsuri style food stalls running down the center of the space, selling beer and takoyaki, surreal and seeming out of context in this huge dark misty space echoing with the music.

Next up, the press conference…

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