Monday, July 9, 2007

Live Earth Review: Even Better Than Expected

Just got back from Live Earth in New Jersey, and it definitely exceeded expectations. It was worth the price of admission just to able to cross "see Bon Jovi do 'Livin' on a Prayer' at Giants Stadium" off my "things to do before I die" list.

It was a fantastic show, from KT Tunstall at 2:30pm all the way to The Police at 10:30pm. The Dave Matthews Band's performance was probably the best of the show, with Ludacris and The Smashing Pumpkins also impressing. After some great high-energy performances, it was a little awkward to have the last two acts (Roger Waters and The Police) average around 60 years old.

And no, The Police don't rock as hard as they used to, but Andy Summers is 65, how much can you expect? It wasn't until Kanye West and John Mayer came out to join them on "Message in a Bottle" that their set really peaked.

From an environmental perspective, here are three things I liked about the show and three things that could've been better:

- Concerns about the show's environmental impact were addressed. There were three waste bins behind every section -- recycling (for bottles), compost (for cups, napkins, and anything else biodegradable), and trash (for everything else). Food was served in paper or cardboard containers, and drinks and utensils were Greenware, made from corn. Shuttle buses were provided from New York City to the site.

- Whoever booked and produced the show should be immediately hired by the UN to solve the climate crisis.
There wasn't a single weak link in the acts or in the speakers. Thanks to a rotating stage that slashed the time between acts to just a few minutes, well-timed speakers, and highlights from other shows on other continents, there were only a couple of very brief breaks in the action for the entire eight hour show.

- This was not preaching to the choir.
I heard criticism on NPR on the drive up that An Inconvenient Truth only reached those who were already true believers. The crowd certainly contained its share of damn dirty hippies, but it was mostly just pop music fans. When the Garden State's own Bon Jovi hit the stage to one of the loudest ovation's I've ever heard anywhere, I turned to The Green Girlfriend and said, "If you're from Jersey, this isn't Live Earth, this is a Bon Jovi concert." Impossible to say how many (if any) converts were won, but a new audience was definitely reached.

- Muddy messaging. The seven point pledge Al Gore outlined from the stage wasn't mentioned until halfway through the show, and I didn't see it in writing anywhere in the arena. I managed to find the pledge on the Live Earth website, but I had to click three links to get it. There were green tips posted on banners hung on the concourses around Giants Stadium, but they were hung so high, The Green Girlfriend didn't know they'd been there until I mentioned them on the drive home.

- Organic useless crap is still useless crap.
Like at any music festival, there were tons of companies giving away free junk, but they tried to pass it off as OK because it was organic or made from recycled materials or whatever. We turned down most of it, but at least the Phillips necklace/ticket-holder had a card inside touting the virtues of compact fluorescent light bulbs.

- Big Oil loudly buzzing the stadium. Want to piss off 50,000 music fans? Fly a small plane over the stadium during the live acts trailing a banner to promote your front website attacking Al Gore. I won't give the link here because it doesn't deserve any accidental clicks, but I will tell you an enterprising blogger has found who it's registered to, and I know you'll be shocked to hear the owner has Fox News ties and has relied heavily on Big Oil for funding.
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