Two of my favorite ‘boys-bands’ in the same room. Haha. Just kidding. N.E.R.D. in the AB? I bought my tickets faster than a Busta Rhymes song. The concert was sold out in a blink of an eye. Blink!
My raincheck on N.E.R.D. Finally. With the experience I had so far, I was hoping for a successful mission impossible. N.E.R.D. @ Lokerse Feesten was pretty ok, but I knew they would kill it in a venue like the Ancienne Belgique. Dark, intimate, sweaty and me front row. So I hoped. Now, the only thing I was worried about was the fact that there would possibly be a very young teenage, hysteric public. Pharrell Williams you know… For the rest I had good hopes, since there aren’t many fools with a polaroid these days, so I was counting on the fact that he would remember me? You never know… Anyhow, my P.I.C (partner in crime) Jules was coming along for the ride to have my back.
So a couple of days before the concert I was sitting on the train, when I received the following text message. from Jules: “Yo, Ouni. Just talked with Pharrell. Polaroids on thuesday will be A OK”. WTF? How on earth could she possibly be sharing words in the same room with Pharrell Williams? I picked up the phone and called her. This is what happened. N.E.R.D. was touring in Europe and while they were here, they visited the only store in Holland where you can buy the BBC/ICECREAM clothing line, the Gorilli Concept Store in Rotterdam. It was a very private visit with only a few people aloud. Apparently Jules decided to go with a friend who is a journalist and she managed to get in. Good girl. So while she was standing there, dressed in her BBC hoodie and her ALIFE sneakers – yes she is fly – she caught Pharrell’s eye. He actually walked straight up to her introduced him and gave her props for both her style as thanking her for buying his brand. Good looking ànd polite. So I told (or yelled) her by the phone that ìf she had the chance she MUST talk about the polaroid project and me. She promised she would do her best. And so she did. He was standing behind a velvet rope, posing for a dozen photographers. She crawled underneath the rope and carefully stood next to him. (See exhibit I )
He kept focusing on the camera and while he was posing she rapidly said: “Uhm, do you happen to remember the polaroid girl from Belgium? She took a picture of you on stage?”. He immediately turned his head away from the cameras and looked at Jules. “Yeah, yeah, I remember!” “Well” Jules continued, “She will be there again with me frontrow in Belgium on thursday”. “Ok, deal”, Pharrell replied. And that was that. Talking about a true soldier, right? How much preparation can one do? This was a done deal. Click Click. For all my internationals here, let me introduce you to DE JEUGD VAN TEGENWOORDIG or JVT. Although they are a Dutch band and you might not understand a word they are saying, they still rock the house. They have fat beats, slick rhymes, a lòt of attitude and they always garanty a great party. I mean, If Snoop Dogg loves them, why shouldn’t you?
The day of the concert I was thinking about my dresscode. I knew the competion would be fierce. Hot girls everywhere. I needed the stand out, ìf that was even possible. So I decided to put some old with the new and chose a Prince Purple Rain tshirt with a gentlemans’ shorts (= hotpants with class) combined with stockings and flat boots. I mean, Pharrell is not that tall so heels were not an option. I had to leave straight after work so I had no time to change since I was guessing the line of people waiting would be pretty long and I needed to be there first. Basically that meant that I had to go to work in hot pants ànd I had a meeting that day. So when I arrived at the office, I can tell you, I wanted to dig a hole and lay in it. The day finished and I rushed to the concert hall. Jules was already there. Thank God. The line was very very long. About 500 meters. Jules was standing 2 meters from the closed doors. I joined her and we waited. I looked around me. Girls, Girls, Girls. I felt like I was IN the Jay-Z video. It scared the shit out of me. This meant only one thing. When the door opens, we had to run! I figured we wouldn’t even have the time to get rid of our jackets. Time was running. Girls were pushing. I was nervous as hell. I noticed two other girls noticing me. I noticed they were not really fond of the fact that I was there. I was being watched.
Suddenly a guy approached the door. I felt like a professional runner ready for the gunshot to go off. The door opens and …. MADNESS. Girls were pushing, screaming, yelling. I ran into the entrance. The entrance was as usual divided in two sections where people needed to give their ticket and show their bags. Jules went right, I went left. The moment I try to give my ticket, the girl in front of me pushes me away, trying to pull hèr girlfriend that was standing behind me, so she could go before me. While she was doing that, the other was kicking me in the back of my knees. WTFFFFF? While I was being pushed and pulled at the same time I yelled to the very scary girls dressed fully in BBC clothing as if they were soldiers: “THIS IS SO NOT NECESSARY, SINCE WE WERE THE FIRST ANYHOW?” and that there were a 1000 girls standing behind them ready to fight if they really wanted to. Me? I’m all about peace, love and understanding. These were clearly no girls to be messed with. I swear, even the dude that checked the tickets was so shocked he didn’t interfere. They let go of me and start running to the venue. And so did I. I could not believe I was doing this. I felt like those girls on TV you see screaming and camping two days before a BON JOVI concert. But, it sure paid off… I arrived in an empty silent venue. I immediately chose the right spot front row. Jules came three minutes later. It was on baby.
Jules came prepared to say the least. She had Capri-Suns with her. A drink she saw Pharrell drinking the last time he was in Belgium. And she had some papers with notes on for the JVT to draw their attention. Jules is obsessed with Dutch hip hop. She is your true ‘connaisseur’ in that field. She goes to Holland from time to time and she will not miss any performance of JVT. Is she a fan? Probably. Is she a crazy fan? Nope. She’s a trooper, that’s all. Last time I was in the Ancienne Belgique it was pretty chill. Barely any girls. Now I was almost having an asthma attack from the amount of weight from girls pushing in my back. I even had to focus on my breathing. I started to understand why there were so many girls fainting at concerts. I even had to tell some girls behind me to chill and stop pushing since it was impossible to get any closer anyway. Chill. Relax. Chill. RELAX. Jesus! The Jeugd van Tegenwoordig starts their set. The thing is, the concert is in Brussels. In Belgium we speak two languages; Dutch & French. The JVT rhymes in Dutch. It might be a tough job to please the French part., and so it was. But still, the JVT delivered. Willie Wartaal, Faberyayo and Vieze Fur made us all sweat. Faberyayo dressed appropriately in his ‘Belgium’ t-shirt. I loved it. I risked taking a picture on stage and clever as he is, he got down, looked straight into my camera and posed. That a boy!
They wrapped up their set and we were getting ready for the real deal. N.E.R.D. pt II. Jules was wearing her glow in the dark hoodie so when the venue turned of all lights she was shining like a star from outer space. The music starts. Anti-Matter begins. Pharrell Williams comes up. And I swear he first greated my little Jules. I could NOT believe it. She must’ve done a great job in Rotterdam. The public was going nuts. I felt like a squeezed orange. I felt the fences pushing hard against my chest. I feel and see like 20 hands reaching for Pharrell Willams. Damn, it must be good to be him… The concert starts and he quickly came towards Jules. He got down, and sang for her. I kid u not. My mouth fell open. I was so shocked, about him being so close and I must have been a bit star struck, since I made the biggest mistake ever. I decided to enjoy the concert and his (very close) presence, and figured that taking a polaroid was a done deal, since we would be able to get in backstage very easily now. He was more than once only 50 cm in front of my face and I did not take ONE damn picture. What on earth was I thinking? I noticed the bass player checking me out from time to time, but I was not sure, since he could be checking out the girl breathing in my neck behind me as well. Anyhow, I was waiting for the part that they pull girls on stage. The plan was, to get on stage, stay in the back while being on stage and not try to rip NERD members’ clothes off, since other girls would do that for us, so when the concert ends, we could just follow the band directly backstage. Simple. I’ve pulled it off once, right? No, this was gonna be E-Z. Well, I was wrong. Again.
NERD left the stage. I was sticky and sweaty, and blew my hair away from my head. Pharrell noticed and looked at me like: “Yeah that’s what we do, baby” and got of stage. I blushed and smiled. Damn, I felt so stupid that a total stranger could make me feel like I had a high school crush on the leader of the football team. Ok. This was a sign. He noticed me for sure now. This was a done deal. Ouni was getting in. They returned to the stage. The drums of She Wants To Move are pounding.Ggirls were pulled on stage. I set tight. Stay frosty, Ouni, I told myself. This is when things fell apart. Girls were going nuts. It was like the whole venue tried to get on stage. I however, was waiting for an invitation, I guess? I already ran to get front row. I didn’t think climbing on other peoples shoulder would be necessary. I saw legs and bodies passing over me. I even had to protect my head from kicking sneakers in the air. It was lethal out there. The thing is, Pharrell Willams was on the wrong side. Meaning. NOT MINE. Jules got pulled on stage by FAM-LAY who recognized her from her visit to Holland. She immediately asked him to pull me as well, but the stage was already packed and nobody could get up anymore. He looked at me like; “ I know you want to get on stage, but so does the rest of fucking venue”. Bummer in a cold summer.
I’m telling you guys. My world fell apart. Jules did her job. She was standing on the right side. Ready to go when concert finished. I was desperate. I planned on getting backstage so hard, I didn’t even take enough pictures of the JVT. And there I was, standing there, with all these crazy females throwing their numbers, panties and whatnot on stage with NOTHING. Shit, Damn, Mothafucker! – pardon my french. The concert finished. Pharrell left with at least twenty women. Jules in his tail. And again I was not one of them. Jules left her jacket and bag behind. I was standing there, desperate in an already empty venue when I noticed Mick. Or is it Mike? He was the guy from the entourage I met the first time with the severe oriental look. I went straight to him and told him, slightly desperate: “Hey, it’s me again, the Polaroid Girl…? Look, my friend is in there, backstage, and I’m still doing this project, could you please, please, get me backstage?”. I showed him quickly the artists I had on my iPod Touch but he remained cold. He said, “If your girl is in there, she got lucky and you didn’t, she should try to get you in. And even ìf I helped you, by the time you get backstage, they are already gone.” He wanted to get rid of me. Clearly. He was doing his job. And I knew he was not going to give in. If I was him, I probably wouldn’t either. “Oh well.” I sighed and walked away. Disappointed.
I was sitting on the floor waiting for Jules to call me. Then my phone rang. Jules! She said “it was impossible to reach him”. The girls that were there were pretty vicious and she said she was in a cafetaria waiting with the rest of the girls supervised by a bodyguard. “It’s almost like visiting the doctor” she said, “It’s so bizar, you get escorted 5 by 5 to see him. It’s so stupid, like visiting the pope or something.”. When she finally got in he was surrounded by girls and she felt too intimidated to come to him and tell him about me. She just looked around and said the atmosphere sucked big time. Nothing in comparison with the layed back atmosphere in Rotterdam. I begged her to go up to him but she told me he was listening to some music a girl gave him and had his headphones up while some other girls were sitting on his lap. Ok. I as well, would be intimidated. I’m not a ‘sit on a lap type’ of girl. I think. Should I, Would I, Could I for a Polaroid….?
I gave up. I went to the bar. Ordered a beer and sighed. All of sudden Jules calls me. Apparantely the NERD folks realized there were too many girls backstage. DUH!) and they wanted to get rid of them asap. Everybody needed to leave the backstage area right now. She told me to wait by the exit door next to the bar. The door opens and Jules came out. Wìth the Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig. That’s my girl…! She worked her charm so good, she convinced them to come with her to have their polaroid taken. She even briefed their manager. Crazy woman. So when she noticed me, she quickly introduced me. I told them fast what the idea was and while I was doing that I saw Vieze Fur checking out my very colorful Essentiel bird sweater. Apparently he loved it because I quickly felt his hands on my back checking for the brand. Crazy Boys. They listened carefully, with a slight concern but still, they were so nice to give me what I wanted. (See Exhibit II):
They posed in tree-some (Exhibit III):
Ànd each separately. Good Boys.
The evening ended with me, Jules and Elke, and JVT eating some good old Belgian Fries, in a empty restaurant in Brussels. I felt the boys were tired. They were silent and Faberyayo’s (aka Pepijn, the blond one) normally very blue eyes were teared red. I could imagine touring was wearing them out. We said our goodbyes and they left in their van up to the next concert I guess. Yes, I was bummed by the fact that I failed – again – with NERD bùt I was pretty happy with the JVT polaroids as well.
I learned a valuable lesson: Count your blessings, but don’t count on them. Stay Frosty. Maybe NERD was just not meant to be. Third time a charm?