Saturday, October 17, 2009

Daniel Johnston Autographed CD

I attended the Daniel Johnston concert at the Ukrainian Federation - basically a church - this weekend (Friday, October 16th, 2009, to be exact).

I did everything to see this show: I applied to be the opening act (and was declined because he didn't require a local opener, seeing as he's touring with his own openers who also work as his backing band for the second half of his set); then I purchased tickets - which I ended up giving away when, finally, I was hired to work security for the show.

They didn't know where to park me for this, though: they started by putting me out front to make sure the doors to the place were shut at all times, and to keep the conversation levels low for the people outside, so they don't disturb the neighbours of this residential area, who aren't used to having concerts be held at their local church.

But an acoustic/semi-rock show held in a church isn't the place where you require security in front of the stage to prevent moshing, body-surfing or injuries...

Eventually (and to my satisfaction), I was put in front of the backstage area, and my job was to make sure no one who shouldn't be allowed in to wander there. A really easy task that kept me in contact with everyone who was performing that night, from openers The Capitol Years (the likely subjects of my next post) to Mr. Johnston himself.

As a member of the staff, I was allowed free beer - and the show was co-organized my my 'arch-enemies' Pop Montreal, so - while I did remain in total control - I wasn't going to shy out on the free beverages. I likely ended up having a dozen Griffons - quality local microbrew.

Saving $80 on beer, though, I did spend cash on merchandise; I bought a vinyl from the opener, and the Daniel Johnston Discovered / Covered double-CD (one record a compilation of his songs, the second one the same songs, but by current indie musicians like the Flaming Lips, Beck and Eels), a DVD of The Devil And Daniel Johnston (a superb documentary), and was given a recyclable hand-made knit bag to stuff everything in it.

Which brings me to the subject of this post.

I really wanted Mr. Johnston's autograph, and two fellow fans wanted to have his picture taken with him after the show. But Johnston was just walking around everywhere, avoiding eye contact with anyone, turning around as soon as anyone would open their mouths in his direction. Like a shy child, you could say. Which, you know, fits with the character we've come to love from the documentary.

I ended up asking a member of his entourage, who said it'd be easier if we got a girl to pose with us, because he ''loves the ladies'' (can't blame him, really), so I did manage to find one, but it took so long to get the star close enough for a picture that she'd gone by then. But we got it made anyhow, it's right below, and you can see how thrilled he was...
As soon as the flash came on, he was ready to just up and leave - he made a 180-degree turn and was just going to walk into the wall right behind us when I asked him if he could sign my CD. He was gracious enough to say yes, grabbing a marker from the table right next to us, signing the inside jacket of the double-digipak I mentioned earlier, then proceeded to hand me the marker back as if it was mine.

- Uh, no, sir that's yours.
- Oh, it's mine?
- Yes.
- Huh.

Then he put it back on the table and left the scene quickly.

You probably can't tell from looking at the picture of seeing him in person, but that man is quick on his feet - I'm talking Olympian Speed Walker-type speed.

What a night. It was good, it was weird, it was short and definitely sweet. Everything I expected it to be, and I got souvenirs and saw it for free from a terrific angle.


  1. Je ne connaissais pas cette homme, mais tu viens de piquer ma curiosité. Je t'envie d'avoir vécu une expérience comme celle-là. Il y a certains artistes connus avec lesquels j'aimerais expérimenter ne serait-ce qu'un bref contact. Je ne sais pas trop pourquoi. J'aimerais savoir qu'est-ce qu'il penserait de moi et de ma béate admiration envers eux, savoir si j'aurais la force d'être honnête vis-à-vis ces gens à qui l'on donne naïvement un statut presque divin.

  2. Bon je m'excuse, pour l'orthographe. Je vais tâcher d'être plus assidu dans mes relectures pour les prochaines fois. On écrit pas "cette homme", mais bien "cet homme" et "j'aimerais savoir qu'est-ce qu'ilS penseraiENT" étant donné qu'il s'agit "des artistes". Encore une fois, mille excuseS.

  3. Crisse! "On N'écrit pas"... pardon encore une fois.

  4. Ouais, ben les deux fois que ça m'est arrivé d'avoir un trip gaga où j'ai pu parler à l'artiste, j'ai eu l'impression qu'ils me trouvaient cons - Johnston et Renaud. En fait, Renaud avait juste pas l'air de me croire.

    La seule fois où ça a été correct, c'est avec R.L. Burnside, mais ça, si on n'avait pas été sur le même stage le même soir, je suis sûr qu'il m'aurait aussi pris pour un cave.

  5. Je pense que cela est un peu dû au fait que, instinctivement, on a tendance à leur donner un peu trop d'estime d'eux-même en tant que public qui se comporte comme une masse manipulable. Devant eux, on perd un peu notre individualité, notre capacité à penser de façon autonome, et on éprouve un peu le désir d'agir de la façon dont eux voudraient que l'on agisse. Le problème est qu'il est absolument impossible d'agir en fonction d'eux. On devient alors nerveux et maladroits. Alors, tout ce que l'on réussi à faire, est de s'attirer leur mépris. Cela m'apparaît déplorable car, en réalité, tout comme nous, ils ne font que le travail que la société leur a assigné, ni plus, ni moins.