Wednesday, September 26. 2007
Last night, while the billion+ BBC audience (compare that to CNN’s 18 million+) heard and saw the headline news of the 10th day of protests in Burma, I decided to check out of real life and and go to a rock concert.
So it was off to a performance in Amsterdam by The Tragically Hip, a Canadian rock group that packs tens of thousands into that country’s stadiums and tonight put an impressive 1000+ in Amsterdam’s Paradiso, one of the great and original international venues of The Rolling Stones, Dylan, and the other big ’70s and ’80s artists.
Paradiso was packed as Gord Downie, The Hip’s lead singer, dripping sweat onto the front row, mesmerized the largely international audience with a bunch of songs about places which those caught in rapt attention by his performance would never even begin to undrestand. Like his song, â€œBobcaygeonâ€, referring to the lakes-laden, cottage country spot east of Toronto. My guess is that not 1 out of 80 in the audience even recognized Bobcaygeon as a geographical location.
Nonetheless the audience went wild. Why? Because of the energy.
Now, believe me, Iâ€™m not a frequenter of rock performances. My American/Canadian partner Janice and her best friend MK dragged me to see â€œThe Hipâ€, as theyâ€™re known by their thousands and thousands of Canadian fans. And, of course, I could go on and on about the quaintness of Canada; the fact that it has a population smaller than the Netherlands, etc., etc., not to mention their essential decency and charming naivete.
But the fact that not only did The Tragically Hip electrify the 85 or so flag-waving Canadians in the audience, it extended its brand beyond the Maple Leaf banner to capture the interest of the 700+ other Dutch, English, French and German folks in Amsterdam audience tonight.
Why? Energy. Pure and simple.
The songs were relevant. The performance superb and especially energetic. Contact with the audience was direct and moving.
It was a charged evening, and got me to thinking how important energy, and being in front of and relevant to your audience is. Not only for rock groups, but also for nonprofits.
Hey! These guys in The Tragically Hip (which by the way contributes significantly to Canadian and international causes) know how to work and involve an audience. Both live and on their website.
So… pleased with the concert, and grateful for the break I went home and back to worrying about Burma.
To see the surprise I found out at home continue below…
Once home, I went to the BBC website and got an update. (Not good. The military regime about to crush the protesters.)
Next, I turned to the human rights websites to see if there was anything I could do about it. I clicked on Amnesty International â€¦ then Amnesty U.S â€¦ then Amnesty Canada … and, what the hell, Amnesty UK and Human Rights Watch, to boot.
Nothing. [Well, thatâ€™s not entirely correct. Amnesty USA did have a small news piece on Myanmar (the media and most of the rest of the world still refers to it as “Burma”) posted on August 31.]
Maybe Iâ€™m missing something. But arenâ€™t human rights crises supposedly a font of energy and interest for those of us in their audience who care?
Maybe. But judging from the absence of any current information, the policy-deciders and webmasters are still not sure.
But … fear not. While Burma may be missing in action, you can buy 1970s music on the Amnesty websites.
And hour by hour, the tension in Burma builds. The threat of arrest, torture and mass slayings increases.
Seems to me that it’s about time that not only our comrades in the human rights sector, but other good cause sectors as well, learn something about live, real time energy, relevance and connecting to their audiences with immediacy.
Meanwhile, thank you Tragically Hip. Rock ‘n Roll.