Since my sophomore year in high school I – like most Americans – have maintained a recreational affinity for the band Coldplay. I own all their CDs, I know every word to every one of their songs, I have a Chris Martin shaped body pillow. Yet they are far from my favorite band. They probably would not even break the top ten (not since Amy Winehouse arrived on the scene anyway). Coldplay is the McDonalds of rock bands. I go to McDonalds more frequently than any other two restaurants combined, but in no way is it my favorite place to eat. It’s just…easy to say yes to. McDonalds makes food in the same way Coldplay makes music: decent, consistent, and uncomplicated. They have found the lowest common denominators in their industries and – in doing so – have ensnared most of us in their grip.
It was this generous and uncritical affection for Coldplay that led me to drop $60 for a concert ticket last Thursday. Having seen them live, I can now add another adjective to my description of their music: terrifying. Put simply, Coldplay is too good at what they do. Had scientists not spent the 20th century coming up with cool ways for people to kill each other and instead focused their energies on creating the perfect stadium rock experience, they would have created a Coldplay concert. Coldplay’s music may be like McDonalds’ food, but their live performances are more like the Stepford Wives. Beautiful, superficial, hypnotic, probably evil.
It’s not that I did not enjoy my concert experience. Quite the opposite, actually: I loved it like I have loved few things in my life. Their nonsensical yet impeccably rhymed lyrics and unremarkable chord progressions came to life beneath a shower of confetti and CGI effects reminiscent of the last scene of Gladiator. The lights, the lasers, the thirty-foot tall video screens, the mindless, British-accented banter – it was all wonderful. Frighteningly wonderful. The sorcerers who conjured up this concert knew all my aesthetic weaknesses and exploited every one of them with a smorgasbord of sensory stimuli unlike anything I have experienced since my first time at Chuck E Cheese.
That is the danger of a Coldplay concert. You go expecting to hear some loud music and maybe get a decent proximity high from nearby weed-heads, and you end up having your whole life turned upside down. You start entertaining ridiculous yet sincere thoughts, like, “Man, I would totally quit my job and abandon everyone who loves me if I could, just once, be the guy banging that kettle drum on “Viva la Vida.” It crosses your mind that the climactic crescendo of “Fix You” is probably the best 45 seconds of your entire life. (Note: I am still not convinced that it wasn’t.) You start weeping. You start hallucinating. I think I may have seen an angel during “The Scientist.” (Granted, there were a lot of smoke and lasers and whatnot, but still…)
It’s all too much for one person to take in. Going unprepared to a Coldplay concert is like going to rent Field of Dreams and accidentally getting Requiem for a Dream. It can ruin your life. There should be a Surgeon General’s warning on the tickets. (WARNING: This concert may dismantle your worldview, and render all other life experiences unimpressive in comparison. Please do not attend if you are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are easily transfixed by flashing lights and shiny things.) Since there is no such warning, me and the 20,000 other concert goers were puddy in Mr. Martin’s hands by the end of the first song. You cannot “respond” to a Coldplay concert, you can only be hypnotized by it. In that respect, it ceases to be a fun summer activity and becomes a threat to our national security.
Sure, this time his only desire was for us to lavish him with praise and visit the merch booth. But what if his motives become subversive? At every concert, Chris Martin and Co. create for themselves an army of stupefied disciples. Had he instructed us to pillage San Diego’s military bases and invade Tijuana we would have gladly obliged. The next time they visit Northern Virginia, Chris need only give the word and the CIA’s headquarters in Langley will be overrun by tens of thousands of stoned, half-crazed revelers wearing VIVA shirts.
It seems our government, in its zeal to root through my carry-on bags, has missed these terroristic troubadours touring our country. It’s time someone exposed this band as the dangerous, habit-forming drug they are. Ok, fine, I’ll do it. Coldplay is not a band. They are purveyors of techno-musical demon magic and they must be stopped. I hear David Blaine might be traveling with them on their next tour. If this is true, I plan on stockpiling thermal blankets and heading for higher ground. The end cannot be far behind.