Trying and doing since 2001
for 28 July 2003.

Not a Fan of the Fans

[Ani D.]

A week or so ago I went to an

Ani DiFranco concert. It was

the second time that I had seen

"the goddess" but the first time

that I had seen her at a dedicated

show (the previous time had been

at the Bumbershoot music festival).

The scenery was great. The show

was at the Pier(s) 62/63 downtown.

A fantastic view of Elliot Bay

and Bainbridge Island was the backdrop

on one side of the stage and on

the other the various glass towers

of downtown. A little farther

off, the Space Needle. The weather

was perfect. Warm with a slight

breeze but not cool enough where

you needed a coat. Even while

standing in line I noticed that

a majority of the audience was

female. Not at all daunted I

recalled my years as a communications/psychology

major, sitting in 300 seat lecture

halls counting only 20 men. "These

beautiful people are the independent,

thinking women who bypass the

mysoginistic male majority who

dominate the radio waves and dare

to listen to an artist who makes

a bold statement", I thought to

myself. The real eye grabber

for me though were two young men

in their mid-20's who came in

dressed as hipster girls, complete

with studded belts and hair barrets.

In the sea of hippies, squares,

gays, dykes, lesbians, and yes,

hipsters, these guys somehow defied

it all by being men dressed as

young, hip, girls. Not classic

queens nor any traditional notion

of gender benders, these guys

somehow poked fun at the whole

system of fashion and cliques.

At least that is my take. The

show opened with "That One Guy".

He was fucking amazing. He had

this weird Magic Pipe thing that

was part cello, part synthesizer,

part theremin, part bong. I think

he made it himself. The hippies

danced, the squares bounced, and

the dykes hugged and spoke loudly.

Well received I thought, especially

for an opener. When Ani took

the stage people cheered and Ani

made a statement against the advertising

that was part of the pre-show

anti-smoking announcement. Very

cool I thought. Then Ani swore

a few times and made everybody

happy. Wild cheers went up with

every "fuck, shit, or cunt".

Songs were played and between

them Ani would belt out some poetry

or mumble an anecdote. Often

times though she would mutter

to herself, often ending with

a "whatever" or some string of

unintelligible something that

I could never make out. It is

possible that she was being quite

profound but I figured that she

was just being herself, jubilant

and mumbly, unrehearsed. These

asides garnered some of the loudest

cheers though. So it seems that

the fans were happy to hear music

and poetry but more happy to hear

swearing and "whatever". Ugh.

Sitting now at a dark keyboard

far away from the pier it seems

a little silly to be annoyed with

folks just having a good time

but while I was there beside the

wildly cheering people, frothing

with glee that their icon just

said "fuck" onstage I felt a cold

knife slide between me and the

ability to relate to the mighty

Ani D. I tried to smile through

the faux-funk, spastic finger

picking, and breathy jerking lyrics.

I listened to each song, attempting

to divine the meaning and find

a personal place to relate to

each verse. The fans, the fans,

the fans. They made it so hard

though. So I stood and watched

and listened and waited for Ani's

message to reach me. In the outdoor

temple of the pier I hoped that

the rock-goddess would provide

me with a sign. Believe it or

not it came. During one of her

mumbly sililoquies Ani began to

talk about the feeling that she

had while going through the endless

hassle of an airport security

line. "We're doing this for you",

she quoted the airport security

checkers as saying. She then

described her own ire at that

statement. She knew that it was

all a crock of shit. The security

checks were just a show, not a

meaningful gesture toward the

passengers, but just a song and

dance meant to veil the fact that

the things that really caused

terrorism, like war, unfair economics,

and bad politics, happen daily

without fanfair or media attention.

Nothing makes a person feel more

accomplished than waiting in a

line. At that moment I realized

that it didn't really matter that

I didn't agree with the fans.

Instead I felt that at last I

got the message. I could be a

square, straight male, geek, non-faux-funk

fan and still see the same pointlessness

in society. Ubiquitous and intrusive

advertising, oppressive attitudes

toward women and all minorities,

and blatant misuse of power and

authority in government. There

Ani D. gave me hope that society

could be diverse and yet united

in a more rational mode of thought.

Fuck yeah.

courtesy of John Winters

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