The Power of a Word

When Bloc Party’s promoter moved last Saturday’s show to the Aragon Ballroom, opening up hundreds of tickets, I quickly snagged one, Ticketmaster surcharges and a five-hour drive be damned. Lucky me, as the group’s canceled a St. Louis show for this week, owing to what vocalist Kele Okereke was complaining about up in Chicago: a lingering throat issue.

It was a great gig and I won’t go into details here, other than to share one anecdote that’ll stay with me for awhile. I owe the impact of it, in large part, to not having had a drink since 11/11 of last year. The resultant (popularly-termed “sober”) mental state, allows one to view situations in new and unique ways. For example…

Despite the bad pipes, Okereke was in a relatively talkative mood during the band’s one-hour-plus-four-songs-for-an-encore set. At one point, he began talking about how Chicago’s fans were great. (“Yay!” cheered the fans.) Better than the Miami fans of the day before. (Cue up more: “Yay!”) Then the proverbial house came down. Deadpanned the charismatic frontman, after a moment’s pause: “I’ve never seen so many douchebags in one place before.”

What followed was this: the crowd losing its collective mind for the next eight-10 seconds. Sheer pandemonium and glee. As if every giddy emotion a group could feel crystallized into one moment: the ball had dropped at Times Square on New Year’s Eve, in the exact moment that the biggest firework had gone off on the Fourth of July, while the best Christmas presents ever had just been delivered to each attendee by giant, talking unicorns.

All around me, people paused their cell-phone photography and pumped their fists in the air, they hooted and howled and engaged in small dances. I didn’t imagine this. It happened. In Chicago. On Saturday. In front of a sober me.

Nearly undone by confusion, I sorely needed a drink.

Is there something especially funny about a Brit saying that line? Is there a relatively-unspoken competition between Miami and Chicago? Are Chicagoans prone to moments of mass hysteria? If Okereke and friends had played St. Louis tomorrow night, would he have dropped the same line on Chicago, calling it the Unquestioned D-Bag Capital of America? And, had he done so, would St. Louisans have partied like it was 1999?

Ah, hell. Many of the best answers are left to the imagination.

I’ll ponder it all while listening to/watching my third favorite B.P. track, if I had to, you know, make a list of such things:

5 thoughts on “The Power of a Word

  1. Embarrassing, but true: does your note mean, "do you like Bloc Party over Ministry?" That little < > piece of web writing still confuses me.

  2. I’m betting he’d have said it here, too, and in the next town as well. Which makes me wonder — is he not aware of live bootlegs and the obsessive fans that trade them? Eventually, the douchebag is gonna come home to roost, as it were. Maybe it’s good he took a few days off.

  3. Ahhh…I’m just glad you saw them in the Windy City, better there than not at all.
    We showed them due appreciation last year, what a blast that was!!!
    Pray they are well for the Northwest leg of the tour…it’s the highlight of my long dreary winter:)

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