Monday, October 13, 2008

Notes from Saturday night's big Diesel 30th-anniversary circus party thing:

-Here's a riddle I thought up.
Q: If this is supposed to be some kind of fashion industry party, why does everyone look so fucking stupid?
A: You just answered your own question.
Zing! Yeah, I took it there.

-Someone told me this party cost Diesel five million dollars. I wonder if they're going to wish they had that five million back this time next year. Or this morning. With the stock market mess, the extravagant silliness of this thing had serious Nero-fiddling overtones.

-The one moment it really became evident just how much money went into this thing: In the sort of entrance room to the tent, there were these two shirtless Cirque du Soleil-looking strongman guys doing strongman stuff, like one dude would balance the other on the back of his neck and shit like that. And they kept doing this stuff for hours, with nobody watching. When I walked through that foyer, there were a bunch of people standing around talking on their cellphones, but nobody was actually looking at these two dudes. I know freaky strongman acrobats don't work for cheap, either.

-There were all these rumors circulating beforehand that Britney Spears and/or Prince would be doing the surprise-performance thing. Neither one happened. Instead we got T.I. And, I mean, that's great, but I was sort of disappointed that Prince never showed. You know you're spoiled when one of your favorite rappers shows up out of nowhere and you're mad he's not Prince.

-At this point in my life, I'd rather pay six bucks plus tip for a beer than spend 45 minutes trying to elbow my way up to the bar for a free drink. I guess I'm getting old.

-So M.I.A. is pregnant! That was sort of weird to see. She was wearing hideous clashing maternity sweatpants and doing weird pregnant-chick bellydances and stuff. By the looks of things, I'd guess she's a good five months in, too. Given that I'm now seeing firsthand what pregnancy does to a person, I have to salute her for stepping onstage at all. That can't be easy.

-I forget the name of the opening band they got, supposedly the winners of some unknown-band contest, but they sucked real bad. Like the Dave Matthews Band trying to be Grizzly Bear. Except British. And they said "We don't usually do this" before covering "Are You That Somebody." This is not something they should ever do.

-Hot Chip, usually amazing live, was actually sort of boring, but maybe that's because they only got like three songs. Then they turned into Chaka Khan's backing band for two songs. This was fun. And for Chaka Khan's third song, a couple of them stayed onstage pretending to play instruments. I'm not sure why.

-When Chaka Khan performs live, she doesn't actually sing her choruses. Her backup singers do the choruses while she emits these terrifyingly impressive screams overtop. This was a pretty amazing thing to see.

-Five million dollars does not, it would seem, buy you a particularly impressive sound system.

-T.I.'s five-song set was pretty great. I liked how he brought Maino out to wave to the crowd but then didn't let him do his one song. Tip also brought out M.I.A. for "Swagger Like Us," and even though all she could really do was stutter along with the sample, it was still a big headfuck to see these two onstage together.

-Another headfuck: for some reason, T.I. did "Live Your Life" with Franz Ferdinand doing the Rihanna part. This made absolutely no sense whatsoever, and Tip barely seemed to notice the band. I can't believe I'm even typing this equation, but at least in this situation, Rihanna > Alex Kapranos.

-Franz was the only band of the night who got to do more than a couple of songs. They had like a 45-minute set, and it basically ruled. I'd forgotten how much I liked that band. The new stuff they played was muscular skritchety dance-funk stuff, and it sounded really good. And I'm glad I finally got to see them do "Take Me Out" in person; that song still gets people amped.

-N.E.R.D. can go away now, please.

-The trapeze acrobat types who did tricks above the crowd made me nervous. If any of them had fallen, which looked entirely possible, they would've taken out a couple of people on the ground. But I guess that makes it more impressive? I'm glad I didn't get hit by a falling acrobat, anyway.