Photo by Masayoshi Sukita
I started getting misty at the top of the stairs. Somewhere in between dehydration and Mick Ronson’s ending licks on “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide,” I decided: this really sucks.
At the same time, my friend Hannah was texting her boyfriend the news: David Bowie has died from cancer. Her boyfriend’s first question: “Is Tommy going to be okay?” Tommy was huddled against 10 million strangers, trudging through the 9/11 Memorial on the walk to work, and weeping over an androgynous guitarist older than his father. Tommy was not okay.
It’s hard to explain such a visceral reaction to someone I have never met yet have grown up with like a family member. So I’ll start with the beginning.
Courtesy of Verbicide Magazine
To call Lou Reed a pioneer is to do a disservice to him as well as elevate other so-called “pioneers” to an undeserved status. To call him influential, the same. So few people in the history of music actually, really changed the way people listened to and created music. As the principal songwriter of the Velvet Underground, Reed did just that. He did it again as a solo artist, repeatedly re-inventing himself and ostracizing his own fan base, which made them love him all the more. He became an urban spokesman, the Bizarro Dylan whose sordid tales of debauchery, sexual ambiguity and repentance gave a window into the twisted, all-too-real world of Warhol’s New York City in the 1960s and 70s.
On the night of July 12, 2013, four of my friends (I’m not typically one to name names, but for the purposes of this piece and clarity, it seems necessary: Laura, Tommy, Mike and Ray) and I met in Brooklyn, packed into Ray’s black Hyundai and departed the five boroughs. Our destination lay on the South Shore of Long Island, around forty miles and an hour outside of the city. We were to meet another one of my friends, Conor, at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh for what was to be a concert event of the summer, for all the right and wrong reasons. Phish, the legendary genre-disregarding jam band which has been pounding the musical pavement for thirty years, was to perform that night, and if every other Phish show was any indication, it was going to be a night to remember. And so it was. Read More