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Binky Griptite: 20 Minutes of Bowie

Binky Griptite (photo by Gus Philippas for WFUV)

Binky Griptite (photo by Gus Philippas for WFUV)

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Are your band T-shirts a part of your pandemic work/weekend/constant wardrobe? In our "Concert TBTee" series every Thursday, we're asking the FUV airstaff to dig through their closets for the concert and band T-shirts that mean the most to them and why. Binky Griptite, host of "The Boogie Down" on Saturday nights at 8, has held onto a Danish festival T-shirt for a long, long time.

I’ve performed at many festivals but I don’t keep many festival T-shirts. This one from Roskilde has survived several purges because it reminds me of the time I saw David Bowie perform, albeit for only 20 minutes.

Touring the festival circuit is fun, but also a drag. Many times there are other acts that you want to see, but you are unable to see them. It might be a multiday fest and your favorite band is on a different day, or they might be playing at the same time as you on a different stage. Maybe your times overlap and you could maybe catch half of their set IF you can get to the other side of the festival grounds and back in time to do your own show. Or maybe you have to leave immediately after your set in order to make it to your next gig. Sometimes you’re just too worn out from being in a different city and/or country every day and you just want to sit still backstage and enjoy not being on a bus.

The other day I saw my Roskilde shirt again and I thought about seeing Bowie for my first and only time. As I recall, I’d finished playing with Antibalas on one of the secondary stages and was wandering around the festival grounds. I noticed that I had time to catch the end of Bowie’s set so I walked over to the main stage. It was set in a bit of a valley that was, of course, filled with a very excited and tightly packed crowd.

I didn’t even attempt to get up close, I stayed in the back up on a hill. The sight line was great but I was easily a stadium's length from the stage. Didn’t matter; it was great just to see him work.

I wish I could remember which songs I saw him perform, but I can’t. I don’t know his entire catalog; perhaps he was doing his latest release at that time. I think I would’ve remembered if he’d played one of his big hits. Maybe he did, I don’t know, I was tour burnt. "Rebel Rebel?" What I do remember is that the between-song banter was not in English!

What a bubble we English speakers live in. Many of our favorite rock legends speak multiple languages and when they are on tour, they speak local whenever possible. Very impressive, sir. Although I was excited to see him, I was not excited to be so far away from the stage so I left, thinking I'd see him again someday. Unfortunately I did not.

So as I’m watching the documentary “Bowie: The Last Five Years" the other night, they mention that David performed his last show in 2004. I wanted to know what day I saw him. Google says Bowie played Roskilde in ’96. Huh? Antibalas didn't exist in '96. Google says Antibalas played Roskilde in 2002 but that doesn’t line up with Bowie’s tour calendar for 2002. Huh? This does not compute.

I spent some time searching various word combination ... and to make a long story a little bit shorter, it was in fact the Quart Festival in Norway where Antibalas performed in 2002, just before No Doubt. Where Gwen Stefani walked past me backstage and said “What’s up dude?” as only a Californian would. It was the Quart Festival, where I saw David Bowie headline and speak Norwegian (French? German?) in Kristiansand. The shirt, however, says “Roskilde ’08." That’s from a Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings tour.

Which means I kept this ugly ass Roskilde shirt for no reason.