By Ocean MacAdams
Here are some things I learned this weekend at the launch of MTV Greece:
1) Athenian cab drivers will not take you to a restaurant if they think the place is “too high society.”
2) Europeans are really, really hoping that Barack Obama wins the presidency.
3) If you're looking for someone to host your concert, sweet 16 party or Bat Mitzvah, Tim Kash is your man.
On a breezy, clear night in Athens, MTV welcomed Greece into the family. 75,000 young Athenians packed Kalimarmaro Stadium, site of the ancient Panathenaic Games and home to the first modern Olympics, to officially launch MTV Greece. With the Acropolis shining in the distance, our own Tim Kash hosted the four-hour event, which featured bands and MTV VJs from around the world.
MTV execs did what we do best: hang around backstage drinking beer while the crowd sang along to Greek rock/pop stalwarts C:Real, Australian (and somehow Italian?) up-and-comer Rebecca Cilmi, the Kaiser Chiefs and the headliners of the night: R.E.M. Six hours of sitting on hard marble seats did nothing to dampen the crowd's spirit, and the vibe reminded everyone involved of just how exciting music television can still be.
R.E.M. have just wrapped up a European tour, and it's nice to be reminded just how popular a touring band they remain.
They may have faded a bit in the States when it comes to record sales, but not many bands can do a 21-song set made almost exclusively of hits. The crowd, made up almost exclusively of folks under the age of 25, knew almost every song note for note.
The band has been pretty public about how this album and tour brought them back from the brink of dissolution, and it was evident that even after a grueling tour (they came directly to Athens from Istanbul), they were digging being onstage together. Michael Stipe even led the charge to the post-party later that night, taking in some Athenian house music at the hot club of the moment, Venue.
I'm sure many crazy, depraved things followed, but I had to be at the airport at 7 a.m., so I skipped out early. I'm quite confident Tim will give you a full report ...