By Molly Freedenberg
I used to wonder if there was some unspoken law about Burning Man that the only music appropriate for Black Rock City was electronica – as though somehow the magic would be lost if someone played Kiss instead of Kruder & Dorfmeister, or maybe you’d just get jumped by moon-boot wearing playa rats if you blasted the Descendents from your art car instead of DJ Ooah. And after six years of visiting the playa, I’ve noticed that there is some kind of symbiosis between the stark desert landscape and the driving, thumping, not-quite-earthbound beats of techno music.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve ever been fully converted. I can tolerate most electronic music. I even genuinely like some of it. But after a day or two being assaulted by ooncha ooncha from what seems like every goddamned corner of the earth, I inevitably find myself craving good old rock’n’roll – hell, I’d even settle for some whiny folk music – the way I used to crave real Mexican food when I lived in Portland (land of white cheese, black beans, and whole wheat tortillas. Good? Sure. But Mexican food? Hardly.)
Another thing I’ve been doing since my first Burning Man? Joking with friends about burning the man early. Or, even better, flying an airplane equipped with fire retardant over the man just as it’s about to burn, putting out the flames: biggest communal buzz kill EVER.
Man, that guy’s DJ decks look a lot like drums.
Well, it seems this year two of my deepest playa desires were satisfied: Someone (Paul Addis?) burned the man on Tuesday – which, though I feel sorry for the people who had to do five days work in one night to build the man again by Saturday, I find hilarious and appropriate. And people played music with actual – wait for it, wait for it – instruments. Yup, you heard me. Drums. Guitars. A bass or two. Not simulated by computer programs, but stroked and slammed and banged and picked by human hands.