Saturday, July 9, 2011

Venues Less Desirable Than Summerfest

Musicians live and die on their concerts. Getting gigs is how you get your name out there and how you make a lot of your sales and money. It's also a way to get people who only know one song of yours to listen to a bunch of your other songs.

If they hate what they're hearing, though, it also gives the fans direct access to the offender.

Meet, via Wikipedia Roulette, Haji Saifo, a folk singer of Tajik descent, in his prime during the 1980's. Recordings of Saifo's songs are rare- he lived in Central Asia, after all.

Though a video of him is available here.

But recordings of Saifo missed the point of listening to him. The point of listening to Saifo was to see just what he would say next. Saifo's songs were never the same twice. He would follow maybe a particular topic, but then go ranting on that topic, or maybe some other loosely-related topic, long beyond the point where an album could hold him anyway. Sometimes a song might last a half-hour.

And quite often, Saifo would end up dragging the audience into the lyrics, guests of honor included. He was not necessarily flattering, either. Or sometimes he was too flattering. Sometimes he would question the manhood of a groom at his own wedding reception. Sometimes he would hit on the bride, or at least the bride's breasts. How the audience took Saifo's rantings depended on the audience. Some had fun with it, knowing what they were getting themselves into. Some got a little uncomfortable. Some threw food at him.

And according to accounts, this was his downfall. Remember, Saifo was performing in Afghanistan, with a prime in the 1980's. It was only a matter of time before he would rant to the wrong people. As the story goes, in 1998, he found the wrong people: the wedding of a Taliban general. It's not clear what exactly happened, or what he said. But the story maintains that he said something in his lyrics, and the Taliban audience responded by doing something with their guns.

Tough crowd.

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