May 21, 2008

"On a gorgeous, unseasonably mild day in Portland, a free performance by a hugely successful local band is likely to draw a huge crowd."

But the NYT frontpaged that 75,000 people thronged to see Barack Obama. No mention of the band. I'm not sure how big a deal this is. The Times should have mentioned the band, but I think the people probably turned out for Obama and not The Decemberists. Who knows?

50 comments:

AJ Lynch said...

The NY Times story had no mention of a band. Ergo let the official record show there was no band.

When your random year generator lands on 2008 in fifty years, you will not blog about any band.

Methadras said...

You always have to love NYT purient bias. So they are in essence saying that because Obama can lure large crowds he is therefore the right guy to be president. However, since no mention of the band took place, it would take the thunder from the NYT in trying to imply that 75,000 people really showed up for Obama rather than saying there was a band and some number of people showed up to see them which would take away from the notion that Obama was able to draw that many people.

Sounds like they are compensating for the fact that the ability for Obama drawing crowds really is media biased because there is a series of pictures floating around showing what looks like a really large crowd at an Obama rally, but when looking at other pictures, you see a large venue that is rather empty and the Obama rally taking up just a fourth or a fifth of it. I'll see if I can find it.

David said...

So Obama's people are smart enough to link his appearance with a popular local band? So what? Did 60,000,000 Americans watch Ed Sullivan or the Beatles? Or both?

Simon said...

Goldfarb already debunked it. "[O]n a gorgeous, unseasonably mild day in Portland, a free performance by a hugely successful local band is likely to draw a huge crowd, and it seems that's precisely what happened. Nobody denies that Obama is a phenomenon, drawing enormous crowds wherever he goes, but this was reported like all of Oregon showed up to see Obama."

Trevor Jackson said...

The Decemberists are from Portland. While they're certainly a successful indie band (now on a major label) and locally favored, they don't draw 75K fans just because they're playing for free.

mcg said...

It's a sample size of one, I know, but I'd be willing to sit through an Obama hypno-session if I liked the band opening up for him.

But I have to be fair and say that Obama was the main draw here. Sure, a free concert was an inducement for many to attend, but it wasn't the difference between a crowd of 7500 and a crowd of 75000.

The real story here is that the NYT is apparently unwilling to report the facts and let us make up our own minds about it.

Palladian said...

I hate seeing crowds of people swarming at any politician's rally. Creepy.

George said...

Here's the video for their song "16 Military Wives."

The bullying, sneering, ranting, flag-lapel pin wearing headmaster flanked by baton-wielding thugs who is buried at the video's end represents the United States, according to Wiki. No doubt about that.

Rage Against the Machine must not have been available.

Beth said...

Simon, debunked? I'm pretty sure you mean he spun it.

Seventy-five thousand people didn't just spontaneously wander out to the park because it was sunny and some tunes were playing.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Palladian said I hate seeing crowds of people swarming at any politician's rally. Creepy.

I could not agree more. Toss in his eerily similar Sovietstyle posters and it really starts making my hairs stand on end.

Have any of his followers gone beyond the Hope and Change chanting to see what kind of policies he actually wants to bring?

Palladian said...

Haha, the "local band" (who are with Capitol Records and frequently on national television) sound like the perfect campaign band for Obama: "Named both in reference to the Russian Decembrist Revolt and to the atmosphere associated with the month of December. The band's use of the National Anthem of the Soviet Union as an introduction at many concerts has sparked controversy as it is seen by some as an endorsement of the repressive Soviet system. The name Decembrist refers to an 1825 revolt over the Imperial Russian succession, and is not related to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917."

No, not at all related! They just like to play the Soviet Anthem because it's...uh, hip and ironic! Yeah!

В победе бессмертных идей коммунизма
Мы видим грядущее нашей страны,
И Красному знамени славной Отчизны
Мы будем всегда беззаветно верны!

In the victory of Communism's deathless ideal,
We see the future of our dear land.
And to her fluttering scarlet banner,
Selflessly true we always shall stand!


And to this I add: Yes We Can!

P. Rich said...

I understand the band normally opens a show with the Soviet National Anthem. This time apparently they made an exception, but it's easy to see why it was the Obamarama choice.

Joe said...

I rather like the Decemberists.

Even though I don't care for Obama I'd go out to such a rally for the band. And as long as Obama's drawing crowds, it might be fun to see what all the fuss is about.

SteveR said...

Also not reported, the carbon footprint for the event was offset by each person planting the seeds they separated out from the pot they used that day. No word on what became of the stems.

Another effort to reduce the energy impact of the event was obtained by all 75,000 attendees foregoing showers for the day, although skeptics said that would have been the case anyway.

Trevor Jackson said...

Man, those hippie jokes are far out. And always will be.

Sigivald said...

Here in Portland, I'm sure Obama could draw 75k (especially with people from Eugene, Salem, Longview, Vancouver, and maybe even Seattle coming in) all by his lonesome.

That said, it was a nice day, Waterfront Park is popular, and so are the Decemberists, who - palladian's snark aside - are a favoured local band (being on a major label doesn't mean they're not from Portland anymore, you see, nor does being played nationwide).

I'd be shocked if many of the people at the rally were there "to see the Decemberists" alone, but I'm sure a few were - but most were there for Obama, and would have been if there'd been no band playing; of this I have no doubt, knowing how far left Portland politics are, and how popular Obama is here.

(And I like their music, even if they have a video that I wouldn't like, because their music is good, and every song I've heard is essentially apolitical in its lyrical content.

I don't give a damn if they opened some concerts with an old Soviet anthem, because if they're Reds they're sure not pushing it very hard.)

Palladian said...

"I don't give a damn if they opened some concerts with an old Soviet anthem, because if they're Reds they're sure not pushing it very hard."

Would you feel the same way if they opened their concerts with a hipster rendition of The "Horst Wessel"Song? Because the Nazis and the Soviets were functionally equivalent.

garage mahal said...

Look familiar?

Trevor Jackson said...

What are you implying, Garage? Lots of people went to see Kerry too?

Palladian said...

garage: funny! I think the one thing that these events prove is that the people of Oregon are hopeless, bleating sheep who will throng for even the most wooden and uninteresting of politicians. Or else that there's so little happening in Oregon that they would show up by the thousands for the opening of a door.

H said...

According to the Decembrists' website they played in Portland earlier this month at the Wonder Ballroom. According to the Wonder Ballroom's website the venue holds 778 people, and tickets for shows there are usually between $15 and $25.

I've never heard them. But based on those numbers, the idea that even 7000 people showed up just to hear them is laughable. If they could draw 7000 people to a free afternoon show for a short opening slot, they'd be playing venues several times the size of the Wonder Ballroom.

Trevor Jackson said...

Were these 10,000 "bleating sheep" just looking for a free good time as well or is it different because it was in Wisconsin? Would there have been more at his rallies if they didn't have to sign loyalty oaths?

AJ Lynch said...

That picture looked like way more than 75,000 and I am not an Obama suppporter.

Palladian said...

If you weren't such a blinkered douche-bag, Mr Jackson, you'd notice that I said that swarms of people at ANY political rally creep me out. In fact, any crowd of people creeps me out; in a crowd, humans are reduced to a diluted savagery. The intelligence of a crowd is lower than the member with the lowest intelligence. You find yourself laughing when you wouldn't at home and applauding things you don't agree with. There is little thinking in a crowd, there is only feeling, which is why politicians, mega-church pastors, rock bands and sports promoters absolutely love crowds.

Trevor Jackson said...

I'm glad you've managed to keep your savagery undiluted, Palladian.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I understand the band normally opens a show with the Soviet National Anthem. This time apparently they made an exception

I wonder if maybe someone with a brain in Obama's staff requested it not be played? I mean Obama is having enough issues with his supposed patriotism without having to answer why a band at his rally was playing the anthem of a former communist nation responsible for more deaths than Hitler could have a wet dream about.

Then again it would go so well his his Che like campaign poster.

vbspurs said...

Palladian wrote:

I hate seeing crowds of people swarming at any politician's rally. Creepy.

Do you know the number one unsubstantive thing I personally hate about the Left?

The cult-of-personality.

As much as I liked Ronald Reagan, or Margaret Thatcher, I wouldn't have gone to their rallies and swooned like a teenybopper staring at them like demi-gods.

They don't embody hope or transcend their message by their very person. I don't want their photos shoved into my face, with crowds crying hosannas to the Messiah who will save us all.

They are politicians and hopefully statesmen that I agree with, and that's IT.

Cheers,
Victoria

Trevor Jackson said...

Victoria, I'm inclined to agree with you (and Palladian, too, if he would learn to respond like an adult) but do you really think this is a feature of the left only? You go on to mention Reagan and your own avoidance of mindless devotion and yet is there any other ex-president with a larger group of fanboys and girls?

I remember a Republican primary debate this year that found a group of men practically carving Reagan's name into their foreheads they were so desperate to praise him.

Trevor Jackson said...

Here's what I was thinking of.

Palladian said...

Trevor, that wasn't savagery. You haven't seen savagery.

Victoria, are there any dispensations for adulation of the Pope?

garage mahal said...

Trevor
Just a little historical perspective. But seriously how bored out of your mind would you have to be to go out of your way to sit and watch John Kerry speak? If you just happened to be sitting on the lawn enjoying a nice day, and up comes Kerry to speak, maybe.

Palladian said...

"If you just happened to be sitting on the lawn enjoying a nice day, and up comes Kerry to speak, maybe."

Then it wouldn't be a nice day anymore.

SteveR said...

Man, those hippie jokes are far out. And always will be.

Who said anything about hippies? No self respecting hippie, from the generation of real hippies, would be caught dead at that kind of event.

vbspurs said...

Trevor wrote:

Here's what I was thinking of.

Well, he used to be a Democrat. Maybe the crowd were ex-Democrats, too?

:)

Of course, I realise a lot of politicians of either Party elicit passionate response from their adherents.

It happens when the person is charismatic by nature.

What is unbelievable to me, is the desperation of the need to find charisma where there is none.

That's the sinister side of the Cult-of-Personality.

It's what allowed Adlai Stevenson to have a slavish following because (like Reagan being a severe anti-Communist), it's a sense of historical desperation which propels them to be.

Palladian wrote:

Victoria, are there any dispensations for adulation of the Pope?

Hey leave the Pope alone, you meanie! Go pick on monarchs.

They're the ones without spiritual authority, and anyway, it's unfashionable to fawn over a monarch.

That's probably why I am not a monarchist. Have you seen how moonfaced royalists are?

It's creepy.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

But seriously how bored out of your mind would you have to be to go out of your way to sit and watch John Kerry speak? If you just happened to be sitting on the lawn enjoying a nice day, and up comes Kerry to speak, maybe.

LOL!

Simon said...

vbspurs said...
"The cult of personality."

It sure it. his slogans are better in the original Russian.

vbspurs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

OMG, Simon. Tovarich Obama... *hurl*

Let's see how many we can come up with?

I found these:

Obama Change

Obama Sunray of Enlightenment

Obama Hope

Jana said...

I've seen the Decemberists perform 7 or 8 times here in Seattle, and I've never heard the Soviet anthem start the show. That isn't to say they haven't done it (because I'm sure they have), but I must say it is not a matter of habit for them.

Additionally, I can say that would be reasonable for them to draw maybe 5K for a paying show, probably more like 7K. Free show, heck, I might drive down for a free show on a nice day (provided I didn't have to hear "hope and change" claptrap during).

Palladian said...

"Free show, heck, I might drive down for a free show on a nice day (provided I didn't have to hear "hope and change" claptrap during)."

Yes, it's a shame when artists debase themselves by turning into political shills. I've been turned off quite a few people because they lost all their mystery when they started selling a politician to their audience. I remember when crusty "minimalist" artist Richard Serra completely embarrassed himself in the 2006 Whitney Biennial. It's sad.

P. Rich said...

jana

Here is the source of my previous comment -

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Obama's Decemberists

Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 7:30 PM

Turns out that Obama's opening act at the megarally was The Decemberists, a hugely popular indie rock band, which typically opens their concerts with the Soviet National Anthem.

I've seen a few quotes from these folks, and they fall into the "Bush is evil, war is evil, let's all get together and ban the bomb." types. And I think that is reflected in some of their music.

By the way, do you know who the Decemberists were? Hint: Think communist revolutionaries, and ask yourself why, knowing this, the band chose such a name.

Simon said...

Victoria - let's not limit ourselves to Soviet iconography. Let's take this and make it a bit Mao-ier.

vbspurs said...

Dammit! I missed my chance to become one of those people I hate.

Ruth Anne commented over at my blog that John McCain was at Cafe Versailles today, in Miami, no doubt surrounded by many delirious supporters.

When Castro was rumoured to be dead or dying, I blogged about Versailles.

I can't believe that I didn't know about this, because I would've gone LIKE THAT.

And made fun of his cheepmunk cheeks.

Hoosier Daddy said...

You go on to mention Reagan and your own avoidance of mindless devotion and yet is there any other ex-president with a larger group of fanboys and girls?

Reagan has admirers, Obama has followers. That's the difference between the two. Ann linked an Obama campaign video sometime back and it had this creepy chant in the background (Obama..Obama...) while what appeared to be models from a Benneton ad talked about how he was going to change the world. Obama talks about how he is going to change Washington to work for us. Reagan talked about getting Washington out of our lives so we could work for ourselves. That's why conservatives admire Reagan and liberals worship Obama.

ricpic said...

Does the Obama Cult of Personality creep you out, as the Adlai Stevenson C of P - very creative, that, ha ha - did, Vicky?

I thought not.

Cheery Bye Bye,
ricpic

Beldar said...

McCain and the GOP have plenty of flaws to focus upon with respect to Sen. Obama.

Denying that he is a rock star is self-delusion, though.

blake said...

The Horst-Wessel Lied or, as some of us know it, the theme from "Wolfenstein 3D".

Great piece of patriotic music.

Pro'ly not appropriate in this context, tho'.

cubanbob said...

vbspurs if you think a cafe con leche from Versailles is divine, you must try un cortadito con leche evaporado (evaporated milk). Nectar of the Gods! Add to that a pastellito de guyava (warm, freshly baked guava pastry made with phyllo dough and glazed with honey)and its a diabetic coma for me! But what a way to go!

I used to tell people from out of town Versailles is to Cubans what the Rascal House was to Jews, unfortunately the Rascal House closed a few weeks ago, thanks to those criminals from California who took it over a few years ago and ruined it.

Still the most sublime cortadito or cafe con leche is at the La Carreta at Miami International Airport between 5am and 8am after a long, long overseas flight.

jdeeripper said...

I wonder how many Obamadroids fainted at this event.

vbspurs said...

Simon, I blogged about the iconography, and hat tipped you.

Zeb, I quoted you too. Thanks for that!

And Jana, though it doesn't prove consistency since you've been to many of their concerts, you can however hear The Decembrists' Soviet Anthem on Youtube.

Here

Entry says:

Here's the opening to the Portland-based band The Decemberists performance at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., south of Harrisburg, in March of 2007."

Cheers,
Victoria