Who would've thought Jimi Hendrix's birthday was cause for an annual event in a city in south west Poland? But it is. Every year thousands of people gather in the main square of Wrocław to listen to deafening renditions of Hendrix songs, and more importantly to participate in a world record setting attempt. That is, to try and be the largest group of people playing guitar in a single place at once.
Of course I had to be part of this, I have a guitar and there's no conceivable reason I wouldn't go. After getting some Mexican with some Canadian friends I ran back to get my guitar; there were lots of stragglers carrying guitars, filtering slowly through the city to the square. Back at the square the band was thundering its way through Little Wing. People with guitars everywhere, sitting on the ground, groups on the fountain, in doorways, on steps, guitars held aloft. Last year apparently there were over 6000 people with guitars, and this year 4027 (our housemates gave me this rather precise figure), so they failed in the attempt this year. But anyway, that's still a lot of guitars. We found our way to a stand where people record your name for record attempt purposes, and they give you a ticket. At four oclock is the attempt itself, when everyone plays the same song. And it's the same song every year: Hey Joe. It was almost 4, and it was quite chaotic and noisy and there's a fenced area where people with guitars go, but I didn't know how to get there. Eventually I was sort of channeled there by accident, and suddenly the band went quiet. The time had come. Guitars went up, there was a roar and lots of wooden banging, and then the band lurched into Hey Joe, along with a kind of guitar orchestra on an elevated stage to the side, and 4027 other people. It was wonderful. All around me people were rocking away to this song, presumably because they couldn't hear themselves over the band, it was more a kind of mime routine. Half way through the song the band paused, and you could hear 4000 guitars strumming rhythmically through the chords, and it didn't sound horrible at all, as predicted, it was rather nice. The band resumed with the lead guitarist going into another ludicrously complex wailing solo, and then it was over, a sea of guitars went up, lots of raucous cheering and banging, and that was it.
I was surprised there were fewer people this year than last year, it seemed like such a good idea and such a success. But it's been going on for a few years now, and I guess the numbers ebb and flow. Hendrix might've been a little baffled if he'd known about it, but no less flattered. 4000 Poles playing Hey Joe together is probably something he could've appreciated.
The Dreaded Thai Kows
22 hours ago