Last night, Barclays Center was filled with a mixture of middle-aged South Africans and twentysomething Williamsburg artist types, all there to catch a glimpse of Sixto Rodriguez, star of Searching for Sugar Man. For those who haven’t seen the Oscar-winning documentary, the back story of Rodriguez is pretty unreal; it’s like something straight out of, well, an Oscar-winning documentary. Basically, the Mexican-American guitarist had a short-lived musical career in the ’70s, but bootlegs of his albums made their way to South Africa where, unbeknownst to him, he became a legend. All the while, he was working manual labor jobs in Detroit. Now, thanks to the success of Searching for Sugar Man, at 71, Rodriguez is suddenly playing stadiums such as Barclays Center, and a sold-out Radio City Music Hall.
Sixto came out on stage sporting a top hat, and looking like a mixture of Ozzy Osbourne and Steven Tyler (this is meant as a compliment), and had a smile on his face throughout the entire show, even when he was escorted on and off stage because he has trouble walking. Despite difficulty moving, he had no problem playing guitar and killed it with every song. Watching a 71-year-old suddenly have an entire stadium as an audience makes for quite an entertaining ordeal. Here are the most amusing moments from last night’s show and what one can expect at Radio City Music Hall tonight:
*Rodriguez told a lot of jokes. Some were more candid (“I just want to be treated like an ordinary…legend”) while others were pretty blatant (“Two cannibals are eating a clown, when one cannibal turns to the other and says ‘Does this taste funny to you?’”).
- Known for being an activist, Rodriguez announced that he wanted to talk politics for a minute. A speech about the shutdown was obviously expected, but instead he started preaching about how men shouldn’t abuse women. It was completely random. Towards the end of the speech, he kind of, sort of, tied it into current affairs saying more women should be in politics, but not really, because he didn’t mention the shutdown once.
- In other stage banter, he combined joke-telling and activism with little life lessons such as “Hate is too powerful an emotion to waste on someone you don’t like.” Right on, Sixto.
- Multiple times between songs, the other guitarist on stage would walk over to Rodriguez and they would have their own conversation for a couple minutes. During these long, awkward breaks the stadium was silent, so naturally audience members took this as their opportunity to scream “South Africa” over and over… and over again. Not in unity, however, just one person at a time.
- He played the same song twice and didn’t realize it until a minute into the song. One can only assume that the rest of the band was well aware they were repeating the same tune, but didn’t have the heart to stop Rodriguez. Either way, it was charming, and it would be a safe bet to assume that he could have played all the songs twice and no one would have minded.