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    To those who recorded the Aly & Aj concert…

    By lizmcg | July 9, 2008

    Welcome back!

    The other day was out in the sun for four hours so my daughter could see one of her her all-time-favorite groups, Aly & Aj. They were the last act at the Taste of Chicago.

    Now you should know the Taste is an event I truly despise. It’s a neighborhood street fair gone terribly wrong. It’s all about obese Chicagoans and tourists walking around in the hot sun together to get an un-recyclable Styrofoam container of usually fried food that they purchased from some mother of 10 kids hired to work a booth and delighted to have a job for two weeks even if the income will probably cut her food stamp allotment for next month in half. People are walking around with pieces of corn stuck to their faces, eagerly looking for the next overpriced item they can buy.

    To make this scene even better, there were four gang shootings earlier in the week, so police presence was absurd. A police helicopter was circling overhead. Streets were closed off about two blocks around, presumably to eliminate drive-by shootings. As we left there was an unmarked van that pulled up on one of these streets and out popped about 8 National Guardsmen in combat fatigues. I don’t think they came for the barbecue.

    So you can see why I was thrilled to bring my almost-9-year-old to the Taste. But that’s just me. Millions of other people actually seem to like it.

    Anyway, I’ll do this for my kid. Our wonderful friend had gotten us two tickets to this Radio Disney event, bless her, so we were fortunate to have seats rather than having to sit on the lawn far from the show.

    We got there early and sat in the sun for three hours listening to opening acts. The entertainment was great, but I’m not a big fan of summer-open-admission concerts. We were squished in the 11th row next to a woman who really should have planned to take up two seats (at one point she actually put her elbow in my ear) and a family of what seemed like 15 trying to take up five seats. At one point they were all eating frozen bananas which quickly thawed and then they were wearing bananas. Lovely.

    Finally, Aly & Aj came on.

    After a few minutes I looked over and E~ was in tears. She’s sometimes a kind of emotional kid (it’s not unusual for her to sob on the last day of school because she’ll miss her teacher so much), so I wasn’t sure it was because she was happy or sad (she also cried at the end of the concert because she didn’t want it to end).

    It took me a couple of minutes to figure out what was going on. Turns out the poor kid couldn’t see a thing. There were plenty of dancing pre-teens in front of her, no big deal, and she wasn’t too upset with them. Their heads moved enough to the beat to allow brief unobstructed views.

    But directly in her view was a grown-up lady holding her digital camcorder up high, carefully moving it to make sure she had the performers centered on her screen. Every time one of the stars moved, she stayed directly in E~’s line of vision and blocked what she could see. I’m not kidding, this woman recorded half the concert this way.

    Police presence or not, I seriously wanted to give this woman a piece of my mind. Eventually (and after lots of shouting from myself and others behind her), I think her battery died and she mercifully put it down.

    I looked on YouTube, and found something that’s both sad and hilarious. There are at least 10 (probably many more) recordings from the same concert. The one from our section of the crowd isn’t the recording from this woman - it’s from someone who was sitting behind us. In it I could clearly see a girl who was sitting just in front of us, and I could see my daughter’s ponytail.

    Have we become this sick, that we have to record and post songs on the internet rather than actually enjoy the moment? That we have to ruin the experience for anyone unfortunate enough to be behind us, just to get some hits to a website? Is it necessary for adults to stand and record a concert intended for kids, even if doing so will ruin it for the actual kids because they can’t see?

    Aly and Aj are incredibly talented young women, sisters who clearly have a good relationship and who have their heads screwed on right. Shouldn’t we sit back and allow our girls in our lives - and the boys as well — to soak up this experience rather than using it for commercial gain?

    Shame on you, lady in the white t-shirt and all the others who filmed this concert. Your behavior disgusts me.

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