Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ivan Stanković
This November, Bijelo Dugme (an ex-Yugoslav band) sold out not one, not two, but three concerts in Belgrade’s Kombank Arena. This means that nearly 60,000 people listened to Bregović, and I say Bregović intentionally, not Bijelo Dugme.
And I thought I was going to a concert of Bijelo Dugme. After it, I had the feeling that I went to have ćevapi, but got served with a potato pie instead – a yesterday’s one at that, but still not bad. But I had an appetite for ćevapi, not potato pie.
I wondered where the problem lies – is it in me or in the artist, or rather the concert. And then I remembered the old joke about two pensioners, convinced in the immense aphrodisiacal power of peanuts, who lamented to each other: “Well, my friend, nothing is like it used to be. Even the peanuts are not what they used to be,” says the first one, and continues “Remember how peanuts were good for the potency. When I was young, I would take a handful of peanuts, and no problems – locked and loaded. And now, even a kilo doesn’t have any effect. Bad quality, I tell you.”
Is it the same with Bijelo Dugme? Where’s the problem: in them, or in me?
The first time I went to their concert was in ’74 or ’75, at the Sports Hall in New Belgrade. I was not a fan. On the contrary, as an orthodox fan of progressive rock, I despised them. I thought they were peasants. Of all the local groups, I only listened to Time and Korni Grupa. I went there to Bijelo Dugme gig only to watch them as a phenomenon.
I don’t remember the concert, but I do remember the walk home with a like-minded friend, and the entire walk we spat on the music, oblivious to the enormous amount of energy that these peasants shared with the audience.
My attitude towards music and songs of Bijelo Dugme changed radically during the shelling of Sarajevo and the war in Bosnia. I suddenly started understanding their music differently, noting the details that passed by me before, realizing that they made songs for eternity.
As people say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Always was, always will be.
Of course I was at the concert at the Hippodrome. Sound and scene were terrible, and I had a great time. My big daughters were there with me. For Maja that was the first night out after Lena was born, and I drooled with tenderness and happiness because my loved ones were with me, and we can sing the songs of my youth together.
This time it wasn’t like that.
Bijelo Dugme failed to meet my expectations. The brand has let me down, which is a quite dangerous situation
And here we come to the story of the importance of the brand – the part where I’m far more competent than when writing about music.
One of the simplest definitions of a brand is that it is a promise and its fulfillment. So it’s something that a product or a service promises and then the consumer experiences it through its consumption. In order for a product or service to really become a brand, it is necessary that the consumer each time, after contact with that product or service, has that feeling of satisfaction. If the brand fails to deliver, the problem arises because the consumer is disappointed.
As I was after the concert at the Arena.
Because the promise was Bijelo Dugme, and I got Goran Bregović, with the Orchestra for Weddings and Funerals and two former singers of Bijelo Dugme, who played cover songs of the band.
I got what I did not ask for – instead of hard pastoral rock, which my favorite band used to play, I got Guča version of songs (Guča is a trumpet festival in Serbia), recycled for the umpteenth time and turned into a big success for Bregović, in the world music category.
I’m not a music critic to judge which music is better. I’m talking about failed expectations. I’m talking about – in legal terms – deception of consumers, because what was advertised was Bijelo Dugme. I’m talking about the devastation of the brand. I’m talking about, roughly speaking, a fraud.
I wouldn’t go into the reasons why this is so. Is it to save money? Is it true what Bregović’s enemies say, that he’s the biggest scrooge in showbiz? Or is it true what his friends say – that he’s one of the biggest misers, so he did not want to pay a drummer, a percussionist, a bass guitarist and a keyboardist?
Is it true – as his enemies say – that he’s the biggest recycler, both of his own and other people’s work alike? Or is it true what his friends say, that he’s one of the greatest artists of the use of the existing works, both his own and other people’s, and he couldn’t be bothered with redoing the arrangements and samples already prepared for Guča?
I do not know, I’m not qualified to tell. What is indisputable is that he has become a big name in the world of world music categories – a trend so popular lately.
It’s all nice and dandy, and Bregović’s worldwide success in that category is huge. But that’s not why I came to the concert. I didn’t come to listen to rock music without a drummer, percussionist and the rhythm section on the scene. What I heard in the background is something, but not enough. I didn’t come there to listen to some recycled replacement of my Bijelo Dugme.
My brand has failed me. For example, this could never happen to Rolling Stones. No matter how boring it must be to them, they have to play the Satisfaction the way that his excellence the audience wants and expects it. Because it is the promise of their brand.
That’s why I spent the entire concert sitting down. I didn’t even sing the songs that I love. I was untouched. And the job of art is to touch people.
And where then lies the problem? Is it as in the story of peanuts? Or the unfulfilled promise of the brand? Or was I really a sucker to believe that you can have ćevapi in a place that makes pies?
Decide for yourself. I’m certain that I will follow my wife’s attitude, who did not want to go to listen to the Guča version of Bijelo Dugme, because she thought that Bregović would deceive us. Which he ultimately did.