Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I was in the completely unrelated location of Takayama when I was confronted with the dream-like scenario: "Queen", that being Brian May, Roger Taylor and some potato I'd never heard of were coming to my home town of Melbourne to perform over two nights at Rod Laver Arena. It wasn't a matter of simply getting a ticket, no. I was compelled to spend a late night and rainy morning surveying the options, the vast array of "Official VIP Experiences" which included fancy laminate cards, t-shirts, stubby holders, important people parties and even a specialist telephone helpline, reserved for confused Queen fans. I squinted over the options...

The "We Are the Champions VIP Experience" was priced at AUD$600 while the "I Want It All VIP Experience" cost AUD$750. The most expensive package, the AUD$1,300 "Ultimate On Stage Experience" would get you within tripping distance of Brian May, yet there was no prospect of any meeting, no chance of any awkward banter or hysterics. The whole set-up made standing a metre away from Avril Lavigne for USD$400 seem like a real bargain. So, without the promise of any encounter, I reserved plebby pre-sale Fan Club seats for my best friend and myself, a considerable distance away from the stage.

It was difficult to justify the expense, after all that I had seen Brian and Roger ham it up with that other potato in Hyde Park for a mere GBP£30 in 2005. Had I existed in 1976, I could have seen Queen (with Freddie) in the same place for nothing. However, this whole experience of "having to choose an experience" forced me to consider the phenomenon of the VIP experience and how it is now possible to grade your level of fanaticism in such precise increments. There is the conscious consideration: "Is this really worth it? Do I like them that much to fork out this money for a single night?" You're left to think about value of a moment that will ultimately slip through your fingers.

I strongly believe that the VIP experience manages to thrive due to the way that we document our lives online. I think it got to a point where that ridiculously distorted audio and familiar low-res blur shot from an iPhone at the back of a venue became totally ubiquitous and stupid. It makes sense that this scheme developed where you could distinguish yourself from the ordinary punter in such a way that you could document everything with such enviable clarity. Where I'm coming from, it's easy to survey the once-in-a-lifetime antics of those who are arguably more faithful and less stingy than I.

The morning after Queen, everyone asked what it was like. I was stunned, overwhelmed and genuinely quite incapable of describing what had just happened. I kept on repeating, "I should have just given them all my money, I should have been closer, I should have been on the stage..." Saying that, I'm still suspicious of my ability to appreciate a moment as it's happening. I need to think about it, I need to sit down with a notebook, I need to listen to a bootleg or in the case of last Friday afternoon, I need to wade through cardboard boxes full of 2014 Queen tour memorabilia. My kind, new resourceful friend in the merch division of my company examined the description on the boxes:

"Do you want a t-shirt? A tour program? A stubby holder? It's all going to be destroyed anyway..."

I smiled.

"Yeah, yes please. I want it all."


Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Italo Disco Podcast #61
Borneo - Let's All Dance
RAF - Self Control
Hubert Kah - The Picture
Telex News - Forever
Lame - You've Got The Night
Julie - Tora Tora Tora
Riccardo Maggese – Boschima
Fockewulf 190 – Gitano

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