is older than it's ever been and now it's even older


One step closer to death

When I have an experience that I have wished for a while, I often say something along the lines of, “that’s one thing to cross off my list of things to do before I die.” Ladies and gentlemen, I have eliminated one major thing that I had yet to do—that’s right, I saw Daler Mehndi live (if you don’t remember my past writings on Daler, start here.) Moreover, it was the best concert I’ve ever been to. Here’s what happened.

A friend tipped me off that Daler was coming to the U of M’s Northrop auditorium, and I just knew I had to go. I talked Maggie into it, which wasn’t that hard, and we got tickets. The tickets were hella expensive, but it’s the beturbaned ambassador of musical peace, so there was no question that we had to go. On the way there, I asked Maggie what she thought the ratio would be of people of Indian descent would be compared to us whitey anglo types. I figured that there would be ample urban hipsters there who saw the Tunak Tunak Tun video and wanted to show up, so I guessed 50/50. Maggie guessed 80/20 in favor of the Indians. It turns out that there might have been 50 white people there out of a crowd of a thousand or so. A kindly-looking older woman in a beautiful sari asked me and Maggie how we had heard about Daler, and I just told her “the internet.”

The band (most of whom wore matching black turbans) came out about an hour after the concert was supposed to begin and took their places; there were four drummers or so and a mandolin player and a bassist and a guitarist and some other instruments that I couldn’t really recognize. Then this MC guy came out and started talking to the crowd. “Who here is from Gujarat?” (polite applause) “Well, Gujarat must be empty since you are all here!” (I rolled my eyes at Maggie.) “Are there any Punjabis in the house?” (wild applause) (I turned to Maggie and said, “this is rapidly becoming the most surreal night of my life.”) At this point, our MC begin speaking very quickly in what I assumed to be Punjabi, which sealed the deal on the surreal-ness (that or the repeated R.Kelly and Michael Jackson ‘jokes’). Then, after a neat musical intro, which let us know what each of the musicians did, Daler Mehndi came onto stage. The atmosphere was one of hushed, reverential silence, and he began a three minute, mostly a capella solo of what sounded to my ear like a classic Indian song. And then he dropped his hand, the drums started, and the three-hour party began.

People were dancing in every aisle, grown men wearing big turbans were flailing wildly, doing a sort of Punjabi skank-move, and everyone just generally got really sweaty and had a great time. For one brief, shining moment I understood the sixties. If you hear that Daler Mehndi is coming to town you must go. And buy the cheap tickets—everyone will just get out of their seats and go dancing in the aisles to the front anyway. And yes, he did Tunak Tunak Tun, and yes, he did that one dance move during it (and only during TTT!). If you’ve seen the video, you know the one I’m talking about.


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