Lou Reed 2.0

Jonathan Miller, CEO of AOL, introduces Lou Reed last night, calling him a poet, a writer, a musician, and the person who introduced him to his kung-fu mentor. What the?

Lou Reed at the Web 2.0 SummitSo Lou Reed gets on stage with two accompanying musicians, flanked by large video screens zoomed in directly on his weathered face. He begins playing a song to the buttoned down and sitting down Web 2.0 crowd. Meanwhile there’s an audible drone of people talking in the back of the large room.

Between songs Lou looks pissed, but I think that’s normal. He tells the crowd, “You can keep on talking, I’ve only got 20 minutes. Or I can turn up the music. I can turn it up so loud it will hurt. Do you want me to turn it up? Do you want me to make it hurt?” (rough paraphrase). How awkward.

He’s met with some faint cheering/clapping to turn it up, so over the mike to his sound guy, he growls, “Frank turn it up!” Frank probably thought he was joking. Lou repeats himself once or twice: “Frank, turn it up, Frank turn up the sound!”

The sound gets cranked up, the conversation in the back of the room gets drowned out (or stops). A sense of shock travels through the audience. Shit, we pissed off Lou! People are still sitting. Except for one Tim O’Reilly, who gets up and does his signature West County snake-charmer dance across the auditorium.

By the time he makes his way across the whole room, he’s in front of me and Melanie, so I figure, what the heck, he’s got balls, I might as well stand up. Melanie follows suit, but we’re the only two people standing, clapping, as Tim bounces around the room.

By the time the song ends, the attendees, who are either impressed by Tim’s gall, or Lou’s, finally get off their feet for the rest of the performance, including the song “Sweet Jane.”

At one point Lou muses on his predicament: “Who would have thought it would come to this. I’d be playing at a cyberspace conference, brought here by AOL, introduced by my kung-fu brother.”

Update: Here’s a video of Lou’s first song. (via Boing Boing)

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