Another year, another concert out to save our souls. Don't get me wrong, I love anyone that dreams in peace signs and rainbows and I also love a good mainstream rock out session now and then but the cynic within couldn't help but sneer a little about Al Gore's eco fest. How much good could the Live Earth concerts do? I mean, did Live 8 really "make poverty history"? Did Live Aid end African famines? What about the struggling farmers helped by Farm Aid? Still struggling no doubt (though at least those guys keep the message alive with a concert every year, thanks Willy).
Still, when a producer at CTV asked me to be a part of the Live Earth coverage I jumped. Okay, so it didn't entail actually getting backstage passes to a living breathing concert (unless you count watching it on a small TV screen in MuchMusic's green room). And no, I wouldn't get to shake hands with Al Gore (just the makeup girl's, who blow dried my ass after I sat in a puddle of water 10 minutes before we went to air). But how cool would it be to be an (infinitesimally) small part of a global event to chant down climate change? I couldn't pass it up.
So I went. And besides it being a friendly melting pot of half the people I've ever dealt with at three different tv stations (hello, media merger) I realized being behind the scenes might just be the worst way to fully appreciate an event. You're too busy getting your face spray painted (which can't be very eco), and moving from green room to green room to pay much attention to anything but cues from the guest coordinator (who was really lovely, I might add). All I caught were flashes of generic guitar strumming and Japanese pop strangeness and it all felt a little, well, anti-climactic.
It wasn't until I was lying on my own couch the next day trying to ice down a raging nerve in my neck that I got to see what the vibe was actually like. And for a brief window, I really got into it. Maybe it was a combination of exhaustion, shooting pain and the 35 degree heat but when those green motivational messages flashed across the jumbotrons and the camera pulled back to reveal the enormous crowds, I actually got a little verklempt. Not that that's saying much, it happens when long distance phone commercials come on during a full moon, but still. It was pretty mind bending to think of the millions watching around the world being, if only occasionally, inundated with messages of environmental action. Even if only a quarter of them were paying attention. Even if half hadn't gotten up between bands to make popcorn and turn up the AC, a good chunk of people were thinking about what they could do to help the planet and it was enough to give this most cynical of environmentalists a little chill. Then Fall Out Boy or some grating band like it took the stage and derailed my sentimental journey with one flat note. Just the kind break that gets you questioning the value of flying hundreds of rockstars in on private jets to an event with the word 'earth' in its name.
But hey, the Live8 folks insist pressure from concert goers and rock stars convinced the G8 to cough up 50 billion more a year in aid by 2010 and cancel the debt of 38 countries, starting with 18 this year. If Gore can next year post a new list of countries that committed to cutting emissions by 90 per cent and banning coal fired plants, as the Live Earth pledge demands (www.liveearthpledge.org), then he'll have the last laugh and the planet will let out a good sigh. In the meantime, you might want to hold your breath.
On a entirely separate note, I want to thank Natalie from Heart on Your Sleeve in Kensington Market (heartonyoursleeve.ca) for hooking me up with an organic dress rock n'roll enough for the occasion (made by Toronto-based Thieves). This new haven of funky sweatshop-free, vegan, Canadian made, and strictly earth-friendly fashions should make any green fashionista giddy.