Going to the Live 8 concert in Philly this weekend really was the natural thing for me to do. I was planning on heading home for the holiday anyway, and since the cause of fighting global poverty is pretty much what we do for a living at Do Gooder Inc., it seemed like something I should be part of. So a few of my pals from work took off early for dear old Filthydelphia. We stayed with friends right in Center City, so we could walk to the Ben Franklin Parkway at 9:30 the next morning to stake out a spot.
Although the concert started at noon, we were by no means the first ones to think of this, as 200,000 people were already there at that hour. Someone in our group who was familiar with the lay of the land had the brilliant idea of walking along the bike path by the Schuylkill, and clambering up the hill so we were right by the Art Museum without having to push our way through the throngs on the Parkway. This way we could work from the stage toward the back, rather than the other way around.
Nonetheless, it was abundantly clear that we were not going to be able to actually see the people on the stage, but we did find a nice area under some trees where we could see at least part of the stage and its two Jumbotrons, and considered ourselves happy. It was a gorgeous day, the crowd was diverse and fairly happy (or at least not completely unpleasant) and although I wasn't particularly keen on many of the groups at the Philly venue, I was sufficiently psyched to shake my posterior to Destiny's Child, Bon Jovi, et al. The performers would play for about 20 minutes, and then we'd sit for thirty minutes watching public service announcements and clips from the London show, so we could see what we were missing. Truth be told, I think I screamed loudest for the Philadelphia Eagles to came on to help announce Toby Keith (no doubt a ploy to appease the decidedly un-country local crowd).
A few of our crew of seven dwindled away as the day went on. One enterprising young man who claimed to not care one bit about the performers finagled his way into the VIP tent, thanks to his connections with the good, kind kids of the good, kind One Campaign. Cassandra and I stuck it out the longest, and at 4pm decided we sufficently represented InterAction, and would go watch Stevie Wonder on the big screen TV in the swanky air-conditioned apartment with the kegerator. It was then that we discovered what most of America had already figured out, which was that the coverage on MTV royally sucked.
All in all I was glad I was a part of it. I think it did what it needed to do, which was educate a large amount of otherwise oblivious people about how bad the situation in Africa really is, and how little it would take for the leaders of the wealthiest nations to make a difference. Best case scenario, a new generation of people gets excited about making a difference and exercises their right to be heard by their elected leaders. Worst case scenario, people went home happy having rocked out with Beyonce. Either way, not a bad day at all.