We Get What We Pay For...Whatever That Is
"I need to be myself, I can't be no one else...
I'm feeling Supersonic, give me gin and tonic.
You can have it all but how much do you want it?"
- Supersonic, By Oasis
Lollapalooza is one of the staples of Chicago summers - a 4 day music festival that brings together artists of all genres and generations, for a long weekend of music, food and fun. I've tried to make it to the festival every year for almost the last 10 years, and there are always artists that I'm excited to see.
This year, one of the performers I was looking forward to seeing was Liam Gallagher, formerly the front man of Oasis, the band that helped define Britpop back in the 1990's. After a very public rift with his brother, Noel, Liam now performs solo, and is currently touring to support his new album across North America. Having followed their music (group and solo) for more than two decades, I was excited to see him perform.
At the appointed hour on Thursday afternoon, Liam and his band strutted out on stage, to the wild cheers of the audience. Without missing a beat, he launched into 2 Oasis classics, Rock n Roll Star, and What's The Story. It was all there - the swagger, the sneering, the attitude. The crowd went wild, loving every minute of it. They were as receptive for his third song, Wall of Glass, at the end of which, he walked over to his sound guy, and had a somewhat animated conversation. He swaggered back to the front, though, and launched into a new song, Greedy Soul.
Halfway through the song, though, he looked over to his sound guy, waved his fingers like a knife across his neck and walked off. The band looked at each other but kept playing. When they finished (without their front man), they looked at each other again, shrugged, put their instruments down and sheepishly walked off. We waited for a few minutes, but it was clear Liam wasn't coming back, clearer still when the roadies came out and began taking the set down.
Of course, many in the crowd, booed and jeered, but so many - like me - were simply amused, laughing at what we just witnessed.
Classic Liam. Mercurial Liam. Liam with a history (in his Oasis days) of not turning up for gigs, leaving Noel to sing the songs on his behalf.
As I left the area, I couldn't decide what I was feeling. Upset that I didn't get to see the show that I paid for? Or, amused that, hey, this is what I paid for - the sheer, hardcore rock and roll attitude that is Liam Gallagher?
In reality, I felt them both. And it made me wonder why.
By all rights, I should have been upset. When you pay for a product or service, you deserve to be delivered those goods in the appropriate form and to the level and quality that is advertised.
But the reality is, that I had paid not just for a performance. I had paid for the experience of what Liam represents. For the values he has espoused his entire career.
That he does things on his terms, to the level that he feels comfortable delivering it at, and when he feels comfortable delivering it.
Those of us who have followed, watched and listened to Oasis over the years knew this. You knew this was part of the bargain. You might get the full show, or you might not.
Either way, you got the goods as advertised - the full rock and roll experience. Even when it isn't what you expected.
That's true whenever we pay for goods and services. Every product comes with its own set of "deliverables" - some tangible, some psychic. Some that we like and expect to get, and others that are part of the package, even if not always what we desire. But it is what goes into the product.
We don't get the choice of picking and choosing. We get it all.
And in those instances when we don't get everything we thought we expected, it's important to take a step back and remember.
Isn't this what we paid for?