Monday, August 11, 2003

It sounded like fun: the Human League at an outdoor street festival. Resurrecting fond memories of men in eyeliner, women in dark streaks of blush and the early days of MTV. With only a $5 suggested donation, it wasn't too guilty a guilty pleasure, and it also provided the chance to enjoy the summer weather a street fair. New wave nostalgia and fried Twinkies: how could it go wrong?

Egad! The idea was appealing to far too many people, and Northalsted Market Days was just a sea of humanity. It's one thing to enter a mosh pit and tacitly agree to be bumped into, but there was nowhere to avoid being constantly jostled. The massive quantities of flowing alcohol didn't help, but most of the problem was just the sheer volume of people. I came close to telling one guy who did some inappropriate touching as he pushed past me, "I don't care if you're gay. I don't want strangers grabbing my ass."

The unbearable crowds were unfortunate because the performance was showing promise. It was unnerving how much Philip Oakey sounds like Alison Moyet, but he, Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall were all in fine voice. "Mirror Man" and "The Lebanon" were the anticipated and necessary reminders that there was more to their career than "Don't You Want Me." But the sheer unpleasantness of being part of the audience made it impossible to stick around for their biggest hit.

One advantage of the $20 entry fee for the Goose Island Fest with Sonic Youth, Guided by Voices, Bob Mould, Yazuka and the Waco Brothers is that it should limit the crowd size. Here's hoping.

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