As a concert photographer I was so excited when they announced these shows. Six bands that I would have probably gone to see anyway if they were playing themselves. All together in one venue over a stretch of three days? Way cool.
Yeah, it was a benefit for the town of Braddock, and yeah, I’m going to try abstain from any bullshit soapbox arguments like Levi’s should make clothes in the U.S.A. again (did Brett donate his fee for playing to Braddock? If not, shut up…sorry), or ‘Why Braddock’ and not an arts community that has a chance and could actually prosper with the attention unlike Braddock (is that you Garfield? East End?). Blah, blah, blah.
I don’t know the answers. I probably never will. What I do know is that I was never in Braddock before. Riding in and out of town was truly an eye opener. Believe me, I am not sheltered from depressed neighborhoods in this city by a long shot. I work everyday in the heart of Homewood. The main drag in Braddock made Tioga Street look like Upper Saint Clair. It stunned me the first night. The second I was trying to confirm and wrap my head around what I saw the day before. By the last night, I am compelled to write this post.
So many images, so many weird contradictions. For one example, a ‘brokedown palace’ that is wired (streaming video AND audio) for rock music that’s literally falling apart, welcoming a crowd of 500 each night who will never set foot in the area ever again (unless this is an annual event). As attendees were walking into the venue (with burlap sacks over many of the decrepit seats), I couldn’t help but compare them to people going to a wake…all bug eyed and trepidatious not knowing how to respond, even though they have been to one before…a concert that is. They were there to enjoy music and feel better for themselves that they did attend to make a difference. They donated. They came. They participated. That’s the start I suppose. The goal?
I have to keep telling myself that today as I feel this way. I am the first to admit, I am no better (I was on the guest list each night) and my observations aren’t trying to be criticisms at all, even though they may reflect that attitude. I am simply stating I am changed in a little way. I am sad. That is all.