MISSION OF BURMA
THE VILLAGE VOICE 4TH ANNUAL
SIREN MUSIC FESTIVAL
AT CONEY ISLAND, NY
July 17, 2004
TALES and PHOTOS BY SHERI HAUSEY
Last time I was in Coney Island was over 10 years ago. It was a purposeful trip in the dead of winter in order to "experience" the life devoid bleakness of it all. Today couldn't be more different. Even though the sky is somewhat overcast, the streets sweat human throngs as varied, vibrant and vivacious as the city itself. Here the synergy of New York slams against the longed for escape of the beach front carnival. The century old longings of Luna Park and Dreamland transform into this Indie Rock Siren's call. Earplugs proliferate. The crowd, one immense Odysseus, thus follows the music hoping for that ecstatic moment that leaves them crashed upon the rocks but just short of death.
CLICK HERE to read THE BEFORE prequel of the previous night's trip after MOB's Toad's Place show in New Haven, CT back into NY and the complete tale.
Thanks to a fellow Burmite I have that magic talisman, an access wristband. Amazing what wonders a thin strip of paper can open up. Once past the keepers of the gate, the backstage white wicker cubicles come into view. Draped in beach towels and discarded clothing, the space provides an open respite from the crowds outside. Barefoot rockers shake their salty locks, Clint Conley among them. Jimmy Conley (MOB tour manager) recounts a smashing dip in the Atlantic as well, but now it's back to work. He and Bob Moses dive into the gear. A short while later Burma takes the stage for some final tuning time. Sunglass clad Clint, a cool colossus, looks out across the throng. Like spectators who've ignored the weatherman's warnings, they wait for the predicted storm not quite believing its potential ferocity.
The first major gust, "Dirt," hits them head on. "ALRIGHT, " a voice blares from behind. The pit suddenly swells as the backstage area empties. Photogs, photogs everywhere. I'm amazed at how deep this photography pit is, a huge private viewing area of sorts. It will not be the last time that I regret my trepidation about the unknown crowded venue and my decision to leave my Fuji in the hotel room. Armed with my disposable kodak, I plunge ahead into this Canon-Nikon sea. Fans scream out the lyrics as photographers jockey for position. Now Roger takes the lead, "This is NOT a Photograph." A chorus that implodes the audience into a sing-a-long but is hilarious given the circumstances. For perhaps seldom, or never, have so many cameras been pointed straight at Roger as he intoned those words. And now for a few choice words from Peter Prescott (paraphrased by me): "You know some how back in 1979 we knew that one day we would be here playing at Coney Island." A quizzical expression spreads across Roger's face. Where is he going with this? Peter continues, "Just like we knew that this year George Bush would get kicked out of office!" Applause. More hoots and hollers. The blast picks back up. Yes, there are various difficulties. Clint's vocal monitor goes out and Roger's guitar doesn't always sound like its in tune, but Burma's energy and stage power are pronounced. And yes, as Clint states when both he and Roger take simultaneous pictures of the crowd, perhaps they are "the oldest naive people in Coney Island." But naivete in this circumstance would seem to encompass their musical integrity over the years and a certain awe at the present crowd appreciation. To quote Bob Dylan (sort of), "May you remain forever naive."
The PHOTOS on THIS PAGE were SNAPPED
with a DISPOSABLE CAMERA
by SHERI HAUSEY
THE SIREN MUSIC FESTIVAL
CONEY ISLAND, NY - July 17, 2004
writer - photographer- latin teacher
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