Saturday: YouTube Live

Categories: Last Night

112220081451.jpgLast Night: YouTube Live
Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason
November 22, 2008

Review by Tamara Palmer
See a full YouTube Live slideshow by Sam Heller here.

Better than:
Going to the dentist.
Watch: The show (but don't say I didn't warn you).

Remembering life without YouTube isn't easy; it has permeated our online fabric and become such a part of the stitching that it is like it has always been here. I spend a good chunk of my life watching music videos, mash-ups and ordinary people becoming Internet celebrities on there, and generally think the site is genius.

So YouTube Live, the company's first live streaming performance, should have been amazing, a cross-cultural gathering of many of the phenoms that have made a splash on the site. But instead it was awkward and hackneyed from beginning to end.
The short pre-festival was winding down as we arrived, but there was still time to catch prominent local hip-hop visual artist Sam Flores finishing his live painting, which was cool.

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Singer Katy Perry opened the show. She's the one-hit wonder behind the "I Kissed a Girl," but she performed a different song, which she really shouldn't be asked to do. Her performance wasn't as strained as some of the other big name acts like Will.I.Am and Akon (the latter was especially off), but definitely made all of my initial excitement wane, only to be thoroughly depleted when the hosts came out, including Tay Zonday, whose original song "Chocolate Rain" (and unusually deep voice) snagged millions of YouTube views, and Michael Buckley (aka Buck Hollywood), a very over-the-top, childing, annoying man who apparently has a popular Internet show of "comedic" celebrity news called "What The Buck?" Their initial turn at the microphone let me know that this was going to take the form of a shitty awards show, complete with participants stumbling over the lame words written for them. It was the first indication of the evening that a YouTube celebrity won't necessarily be able to be adaptable to any sort of setting, but definitely not the last.

A lot of the show was painful, but it wasn't all bad. Local A/V DJ Mike Relm saved my soul from so much mediocrity with his awesome mixed interludes such as this one where he played around with OK Go's infamous treadmill-dancing video. Relm is so engaging that he can almost save any show.

But the most interesting moment of the night for me was when Mayor Newsom and his new wife gave a special award to the Queen of Jordan for her use of YouTube as a platform to dissolve racial and cultural stereotypes and misnomers. Via a video address, she accepted her award by naming off a Letterman-style top 10 list of why she started her YouTube channel, including the reason "Because I wanted people to see that Jordan is not just a basketball player." Her work shows the powerful potential of YouTube and her speech was much more exciting than watching some kid playing Guitar Hero while real guitar god Joe Satriani was relegated to second fiddle.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: At first, I was miffed to not get into the actual show due to my misleading ticket. I watched it on a big screen outside under a heat lamp. But, as it unfolded, I became a little bit happy not to actually be stuck in there.

Random detail: Soulja Boy Tell 'Em walked past me, and that was much more exciting than watching him do his awful new song/dance "Bird Walk."

By the way: I would have honestly rather watched 90 minutes of random stuff on YouTube.


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