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September 2017
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This morning, some hundred or so workers are milling around the Keating Hall steps and Edwards Parade, unloading crates full of electronics and cables, men with “Good Morning America / U2” badges trying to keep some order in the setup as trucks back in, beeping, with more gear. Lots of sites of work are now happening at once, the controlled chaos that characterizes liturgy the practice of making a multipurpose “space” into an identifiably rockish concert “place.”

This morning I wandered around the site and through the buzz, taking in the expected consolation of these anonymous keepers of the rock flame, guys clad in jeans (women are, interestingly, very rare in “roadie culture”), black jackets, often leather, some concert shirts, the requisite “all access” lanyards, the rough and ready makers of the condition-of-possibility-of-elemental-rock-experience: the live (and outdoor!) show in its inevitable high-wire quality balancing of electronics, natural elements, rock’s established catalogue of gestures and sounds washing through the amplified joy-anger of containment-releasement in which rock seems to specialize, the experimenting with the power of what theologian and musician Don Saliers told me was rock’s extraordinary “somatic capital.” All this on the backs of the (official and unofficial) roadies, doing their job outside right now.

And in the Blue Chapel, down the hall from the Graduate School of Religion offices here at third floor Keating, workers are in the hallway right now readying lights to shine through the stained glass onto the assembled tomorrow morning. In this gorgeous stone-and-wood refuge, this friendly space into which I daily escape for an attempt to recollect what I should be doing as a theologian, a father, a husband, and a musician, stand stained glass images of, from left to right, St. Anna, St. John, the “Mother of Sorrows,” the “Ecce Homo” (Jesus bound), St. Mary Magdalene, and Saint Simeon. It looks as though these compatriots are going to illuminatively join the gathering tomorrow, coming in light to join the inevitable light that the students and band will seek, and perhaps taste with new awareness.

In response to even the anticipation of rock’s promises, who wouldn’t want to say, with the (rock-ish) Peter of Matthew 17:4, “I will make three  booths  here!” As if to confirm this, even now a booth has just been erected stage left in which are being loaded wireless equipment for the band and crew, and there is a similar spot for a space stage right, and a third booth-ready space 50 yards into Edwards Parade for the sound engineer and other broadcast equipment.

Tom Beaudoin
New York City


1 Comment »

  1. Tom,

    Beautifully written. I am very envious indeed, but happy that U2 has chosen such a wonderful University to grace with it’s presence. You have the BEST radio station in WFUV….they always play the best Irish music, including U2!

    God Bless all who are able to “enjoy the liturgy”

    It will be a religious experience for sure! AMEN and HALLELUJAH !

    Comment by Kathleen — March 5, 2009 @ 11:30 am

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