Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] Very long reviews w/ DETAILS!

Alan R. Bernstein bernsa@eden.rutgers.edu
Mon, 29 Apr 2002 20:50:13 -0400 (EDT)

Greetings Workers

Thought I'd share my experiences this great weekend past with everyone.

I'll skip the details on my boring drive up and the great Red Sox game the
night before. BTW, BB fans, Fenway is phenomenal place... even if you're
not a RSox fan, give it a shot before they butcher it into a neo-classical

Hatch Shell on the Esplanade (Boston):

Picking up on Nina's cue, I volunteered with WBOS to, and I'm not
overstating this... pick up trash... in exchange for VIP access to the
show.  IMHO, I think it was worth it for the 2 hours of Community
Service.  What VIP Access brought:
1) Guaranteed Access to the Front Row... before all the press cameras
2) Ability to slap hands with performers that braved coming down into the
pit (including PG)
3) Free food and non-alcoholic drink
4) Ability to roam about without 100,000 people trying to steal your spot
5) Up close access (10-15 feet) during the radio press interviews
6) Ability to hang with the band if they ventured into the catering area
7) Free massages (which I did not utilize)
8) Inside scoop on the day's schedules
9) Lack of harassment by National Park Rangers, MA State Troopers, and
Event Security
10) Best picture-taking opportunities EVER

On to the show:
The show had a kicking set list that offered up some variety (River Runs
Red and Only the Strong).  I believe they opened with Too Much Sunshine or
Redneck.  Included a 2 song acoustic set, one of which was Lurjita Way.  I
was surprised at the acoustic set since they were only allocated 55
minutes I thought they wouldn't have time for it.  Redneck Wonderland was
thrilling in an open environment with 100,000 people.  Just as they get
into the first chorus a low-flying helicopter circled the Esplanade which
added to the ambiance tremendously.  They played Dead Heart but
unfortunately the crowd just wasn't familiar with the song so an eerie
lack of do-do's from the crowd.  That all changed when Beds started
off.  There's nothing more frustrating than watching 100,000 people
listening to 40 minutes of the Oils with clueless faces that finally light
up with recognition once they hear the BO-BA-BA opening chords.  Also
recall Golden Age being played somewhere.  I did see someone walk off with
a setlist (I have no idea how... the stage was like 50 feet away from the
VIP section and there was no way of even asking someone to give it).

I think Peter was being a true showman.  He was certainly trying his best
to play up the crowd and was very entertaining in keeping the audience
guessing on what he'd do next.  He made acknowledgements to the people
whom were climbing poles and clamoring for a view in the back.  He
espoused the typical earth day themes.  Rob was also doing his best
showmanship with a few drumstick tricks including the bouncing drumstick
into the water drum and the famous high arm drop on the snare.  I recall
Jim wearing sunglasses, I think one other did as well either Bones or

The crowds were estimated at 125,000, which is supposedly an event
record.  The MC did a quick poll of the audience to see who came for which
performers, IMHO.... the crowd seemed to pick in their favorite order:
1) Garbage
2) Bonnie Raitt
3) Oils
4) Lisa Loeb
5) Johnny A

The other performers were pretty good.  I missed most of Johnny A's set
since I took the opportunity to eat an early lunch, but what I did hear
sounded pretty good.  Garbage set the crowd a-frenzy.  Lisa did a great
job.  I had seen her once before when she performed at a similar setting
at Rutgers during the annual Spring Concert there, and wasn't really
impressed then.  She has filled in her repoitore with some really nice
tunes.  Oils next.  Bonnie Raitt thereafter.  I really didn't see to much
of BR since I was Oil Hunting and managed to get Peter and Rob's signature
on a poster provided by Chris as his community service.  

Those of us who signed up for hard labor did the Service, and while it was
the last think any of us wanted to do at that moment, I didn't think it
was as bad as it could have been.  The crowd seemed to take on their
responsibility for the most part which made our task so much easier.  The
place was in pretty good shape 30 minutes after BR finished.  They were
pretty much running out of stuff for us to do.  There also didn't seem
anyway to force you into it, but I suppose one's word is one's word.

Greetings to all the great workers up in Boston!  Special greetings to
Nina, her 2 non-worker friends, her worker all-access friend Chris, James,
Brigitte, and LBNL Rich K.  We went to a hang out in Cambridge after the
show for one of the best worker gatherings I've been to on the EAST
coast.  (Can't top Brian Perkin's hosting job on the West).  How's that
pizza James?

Boston Media Coverage

The media was crawling all over this event with camera crews and
all.  After getting back to my hotel I was watching the news.  Here's a
breakdown from worst to first:

CBS WWBZ Channel 4:
Mentions every performer, except for you guessed it, the oils.  No

ABC WCVB Channel 5 &
NBC WHDH Channel 7
Mentions all performers, shows brief outtake of Bonnie Raitt's performance

UPN WSBK Channel 38
Dunno... missed the coverage..  OOPS

FOX WFXT Channel 25
Mentioned all performers, showed Garbage and Bonnie Raitt and good
coverage of the crowd

WB WLVI Channel 56
Missed the main coverage, but in closing their newscast, a full 30
seconds and good camera work on Beds Are Burning!



Left rainy Boston for Long Island and did a quick stop at the Shore Line
Trolley museum outside New Haven, CT.  Neat place for the kids and transit
buffs!  These old guys like nothing more than a good trip down memory
lane, so ask lots of questions if you go.


The Vanderbilt, Plainview, LI

The venue:

Very cool.  I was expecting a dive like Birch Hill in Old Bridge, but this
place had decor and enviance.  Art-Deco elements with a high ceiling and
very wide stage allowing for some great views.

The opening act:

Chauncy was pretty good.  Like Will Hoge they kind of grow on you.  I was
mesmerized by their drummer who played at an unbelievably ultra-high beat
count for what seemed like 5 minutes on one song.  The neat thing about
this band is that they do a great job layering and blending their
individual sounds into the overall product.  They do pretty good ambient
effects and can play to a crowd.


WOW!  Workers be warned!  This isn't your father's setlist!  The new-style
setlist proves that a little variance in the songs will charge an audience
to a frenzy.  I don't have the full list but I think we can expect at
nearly all venues on this stage of the tour the same types of songs on the
Vermont set list.  Two thirds of Capricornia was played: Starting with the
opening song Been Away Too Long, Too Much Sunshine, Under the Overpass,
Say Your Prayers, Lurjita Way, Golden Age, Mozzie March, and lastly Tone
Poem in the encore.  Other surprises included a toss up between Good Son
and Now or Never Land with the band choosing the latter in the acoustic
set and Concrete from RW.  Redneck, Truganini, Dead Heart, Beds, Blue Sky,
Forgotten Years, King of the Mountain, and Sometimes rounded out the
"20,000 Watt" category.  So the new formula: 8 Capricornia + 1 RW, +
Redneck, Dead Heart, Beds, Blue Sky, and 3-4 more classics.

This show was awesome from start to finish and had an energy level that I
can't recall ever being matched at any other venue I've been at.  This
show ranks up there with only Mercury Lounge topping my list of concert
favorites.  I was not feeling well before the show started, having an
empty stomach, muscle sores, and feeling tired, but they were forgotten by
the time Been Away finished.  There was a bit of dichotomy in the crowd
though.  Stage right (Bones and Jim's side) was jumping and dancing and
lively.  Stage left (Martin) was a bit slow to get going.  I think this
had to do with the early crowd (the gung-ho fans) staying to the right
near the entrance of the venue and the late comers back-filling the left
side.  By the time the encore came around, everybody was moving.  In turn,
this was like power-up city for the band which only got better and
better.  Rob did an impromptu mini drum solo towards the end of the show
(can't remember which song), Martin and Jim did a great job on
improvisation during Beds, and everyone was smiling and laughing,
including Martin.  

At the end of the main show, before the encore, Peter showed his
appreciation in a rare token of slapping hands with a few on the right and
giving applause back to the audience.  A 2nd encore was heavily requested
and well-earned, but disappointingly was not to be.  It appeared the
roadies and Chauncy were both trying to persuade the band to reappear from
backstage with little success.  They were instructing the audience to not
give up the request.  The audience stayed 5 minutes after the lights came
up only to be met with sheer disappointment when the roadies finally
starting to break down the equipment.  It also appeared they started their
back-stage party a bit on the early side since Peter definitely took a big
gulp of a Heineken during the encore.

What a night!


I had a discussion with Rich the night before in Boston about the
photography restriction.  The security guys at Irving Plaza last month
said they banned photography at the band's request.  Rich made a good
argument about this not being a convenient excuse.  Based upon actions I
saw last night, I think whole-heartedly that IT IS THE BAND'S POLICY TO
BAN PHOTOGRAPHY.  The security last night was ignoring any and all
photography.  That is until Peter took notice of one audience member and
with hand motions said no pictures to the individual, promptly told Bez,
who then immediately went to security to tell them (with clear hand
motions) NO PICTURES ALLOWED.  Security who went from laissez-faire with
cameras then immediately stepped up in hard-liner fashion.  Unfortunately
they decided to make a clear example of one person and immediately ejected
them from the area and may have confiscated the camera and/or film from
the looks of it.  Peter took notice of the hard-line action, complained
again to Bez, who complained to security.  Security looked confused and
shrugged as if to say, "They said no pictures, how are we supposed to know
not to destroy offenders?"  They CLEARLY overstepped their bounds.  They
called in 4 or 5 beefy guys for backup and literally pushed people out of
the area as if they were criminals.  I feel the band did not intend to
punish offenders, but merely wanted security to enforce that people not
take pictures.  Either way, I think the actions speak for the band's
intentions that photography is unwelcome during their performance.


The same security people from Irving Plaza last month also said the
security barriers are at the band's request.  Again based on actions last
night this might be true.  Several fans were air-drumming with a
well-caught stick and air-punching with their arms which prompted Peter to
make more comments to Bez, who talked to security, who again had a talking
down to the apparent offenders.


Big greetings to the New York based workers, including Ben and wife,
Christine and husband, Melissa, Cheryl, and Carol.  Was I seeing things or
was Chris over on the right as well?