Picture a huge bowl filled with thousands of people. That’s what the Manu Chao concert looked like. Getting there was easy. I took Bart and walked through campus. However I hesitated getting off of the train at the Berkeley station, because on the maps and schedules it is called the “Downtown Berkeley” station. No biggie, but you think they might be more detail-oriented with things like that.
It was pleasant to be on a college campus again, although I can’t pinpoint why. Once on campus I noticed that most of the people I heard spoke with accents. There was the french guy at the map. The english guy by the porta-potee. The hispanic girls in front of me in line. Another french guy asking someone if he spoke greek (he didn’t).
I got in line at 6:30, and was seated on the 5th cement slab row within 15 minutes, free cliff bar in hand, and water cap off. My friend Roque from work met up with me moments later. He is pictured below, certain that he is having a good time so far. The woman behind him is not so sure:
The theater filled up pretty fast. We tried to save a space on the cement for Roque’s friends, but two hippyish people sat there anyway, I guess questioning our authority to tell them what to do. Appropriate behavior for a Manu Chao concert, I suppose.
The opening band was Kiki from Mexico. They spoke and sang the first few songs in english. The lead singer wore black converse and jumped around a lot. The bass player wore a cowboy hat and did a modified Chuck Berry thing, kinda looking like he was on point in “the Nam” and gonna shoot somebody with his bass. He apparently suffered from repetive motion injury judging by the elbow and wrist supports he wore. Their songs were a bit repetitive, but I took a picture of them:
So after Kiki we got some beers for $7 each, and I went to the rest room. The women’s line was so long that women started coming into the men’s bathroom. That’s the kind of crazy thing that happens at Manu Chao concerts.
It seemed like a long time before Manu Chao finally came out. People kept seeing the roadies doing sound check things and getting excited. If a guy came on stage with a hat, they started clapping. But when the towel guy lays the towels out, you know it’s on.
The band members came on stage, one by one. First the drummer came out and played for a while, then the percussionist joined him, then the bass, then guitar, then finally the man himself. He looked to be about 5’2″ or 5’3,” unless his bandmates were short, then he could have been smaller. The first few songs had a heavy dub/reggae sound, which was a nice surprise. I was familiar with a lot of the songs, some I wasn’t, but they were all good.
He played a lot of off Manu Chao and some earlier stuff like “Monkey.” Towards the end of the concert I noticed that they were in the habit of playing a slow song, and then speeding it up really fast to get the people whipped up into a frenzy. I didn’t feel like being whipped up into a frenzy the last couple of times, but other than that it was all good.
During the last song a couple of people (or should I call them jack-asses) climbed on stage and sang along with Manu Chao into the microphone . Much to everyone’s delight he didn’t kick them off stage right away. He put his arm around one guy and let him sing along. Then it got old and the bouncer dragged the guy off. The other person, sensing imminent doom, slunk away.
Fearing I would miss the last Bart transfer train and be stuck at the Bayfair station all night, I left after the last song, but before the encore. It sounded good though as I walked towards Bart.