You better watch out. You better not cry. Better not pout, I’m telling you why.
Lou Reed is coming to town!
Lou Reed, that icon of (post) punk, performance art, and glam rock, that godfather of street cred, will be performing in Miami for the first time since… well, lets just say Bill Clinton was President and Don Shula still coached the Dolphins (if my research is correct). Plain and simple, the dude doesn’t tour.
Reed is the coolest of street cats. Never one to chase commercial success or mainstream acceptance; he just never gave a shit. Early in his music career he was too busy trying to figure himself out to worry about outsiders, and then once he did, he chose the strangest of paths: pioneering progressive glam rock (with David Bowie producing his records in 1972), toying with ‘electronic noise’ before the digital age, composing rock operas, writing “Walk on the Wild Side” and recording the most famous of background vocals by ‘the colored girls’ – doo do doo do doo do do doo .
Indefinable. Uncategorizable. Eccentric.
Most recently, he collaborated with Metallica on a concept album (LuLu) based on – get this – works by an obscure 19th century German playwright. Whatever the intents and purposes, the album, to put it mildly, bombed. (Reed said recently that Metallica fans have threatened to shoot him. But then this: “I don’t have any fans left. Who cares? I’m essentially in this for the fun of it.”).
For the fun of it. That bravado is why Lou Reed still matters.
Reed first began to matter in the late 1960s when he was rubbing elbows with Andy Warhol, the milk-white-haired grand-daddy of multimedia pop art. Warhol was also known for famous parties at his New York City studio dubbed ‘The Factory’ which regularly drew hundreds of artists, celebrities, and “it” people for festive, creative debauchery all curated by Warhol himself. It was there that Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Maureen Tucker started The Velvet Underground which from 1966 to 1970, explored through their avant-garde music, the darker, grittier side of life (drug use, street hustling, flame ins, burn outs). Reed once said, “I put together music about what was really going on in the streets of New York and had some basis in reality”. This was in direct contrast to the psychedelic music originating from the San Francisco hippie movement in those years.
And now just as the holidays approach, Lou Reed is coming to take part in the UR1 Music Festival in Downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park on December 8th and 9th with at least 40 other musical acts including the sometimes polemic, always entertaining Kanye West, pre-grunge rockers Jane’s Addiction, and former Gun & Roses guitarist Slash.
We are in for a December treat.
Here’s the Rock & Roll Animal himself with The Velvet Underground in a 1993 concert in Paris, the last time the Velvets performed together.
Update – November 30, 2012:
The UR1 Festival was postponed due to ‘inclement weather conditions.’ New dates will be announced shortly so we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the Rock & Roll Animal. Stay tuned.