Obama At Lollapalooza?
We've been gearing up for Chicago's Lollapalooza music fest all of this week by listening to the free version of NIN's "The Slip," practicing applying MGMT body paint, teasing our hair for Love and Rockets. Additionally, though, we can't seem to ignore the buzz about presidential hopeful Barack Obama making a cameo appearance to introduce a Chicago-centric headliner.
Between Wilco and Kanye, we can't make up our minds... on the one hand, introducing Kanye would solidify everything the young person has ever thought of Obama: dude is hip as hell. On the other hand, he could benefit by grabbing a few more 26-42-year-old white dude votes.
Or maybe he could just give a shout out to Chicago's Bloodshot Records and rock out alongside Ha Ha Tonka.
Coldplay Bring the Bombast
J.I. would like to think we are pretty open minded, and jaded as we might be, we’re not music snobs – if we get drunk and nostalgic enough, we can karaoke “American Pie” from start to finish. So when last minute Coldplay tickets came along, we decided to live in the moment and hopped on a train headed for Philly.
You see, we’ve never been big Coldplay fans. We don’t dislike them, per se, and we think they serve as great background music in one of our favorite movies (the deliciously snarky Igby Goes Down). But we never quite got the mass appeal, either.
Perennial J.I. fave Santogold opened the show, and after a lackluster SummerStage performance last week, totally redeemed herself. The addition of a full band, as opposed to the DJ and dancers she performed with previously, filled out her sound and her seem more like a real group and less like a hipster karaoke act. Unfortunately, the Coldplay crowd didn’t really seem to get her; she wasn’t booed, but she was met with plenty of shrugs.
While Santogold might have been met with ambivalence, Coldplay were met with an outpouring of support from the sold out arena. J.I. has always respected bands that take their job as entertainers and performers seriously; while we’re not big Bon Jovi fans, we admire their respect for their fans and their determination to provide a memorable night. Coldplay, much like a U2, are in the same vein – they bring the bombast, and act like they genuinely want to give the assembled masses a good time. From the opener, “Violet Hill,” to the hits from their previous albums, the band was tight, energetic, and true showmen.
We probably won’t be running for the president of the Coldplay fan club any time soon; the songs did begin to blend in to one another, and something still leaves us a little cold. But the show did provide us with a newfound admiration for a band that takes their craft very seriously.
Modern Day Warriors Fail, Fail, Fail
Rush have never exactly been known for their uproarious sense of humor, but the Canadian trio were great sports during a recent appearance on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report." Even better is footage of them attempting to play along with their own hit, "Tom Sawyer," on "Rock Band," and failing miserably. Peep it below.
Waddell On The Loose: Bon Jovi, Billy Joel In NYC
Even by Big Apple standards, last week was a big week indeed in New York. Bon Jovi free at Central Park for thousands of fans on Sunday, then Bon Jovi again to a packed double at Madison Square Garden on Monday and Tuesday. Major League Baseball's All Star Game out in the Bronx for a last go-round at Yankee Stadium, also on Tuesday. Then, the capper, a final pair of concerts at Shea Stadium, home of the Mets, on Wednesday and Friday, featuring New York favorite Billy Joel and a bevy of superstar guests.
First online: Bon Jovi at the Garden. I meet Madison Square Garden Entertainment marketing diva Liana Farnham and AEG Live Europe managing director Rob Hallett for a quick beer at Nick & Stefi's, then snag the laminate and head backstage.
All shows at the Garden are special, and the final date of any major tour is special, so this Bon Jovi concert was, uh, special to the extreme. This was Exit 99, the final exit, on the Lost Highway tour, the biggest tour of the year so far and maybe the biggest all year. Backstage was thrumming with excitement, with Manager of All Things Bon Jovi Touring Paul Korzilius holding court, AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips powering his Blackberry on adrenaline and Bon Jovi manager Jack Rovner feeling fine but intent on keeping this career explosion moving forward. International touring industry power players were everywhere.
Then, of course, the show. The Garden was packed, but the 360 production, open staging, and crowd lighting somehow gave the show an intimate feel. The band was on fire, with guitarist Richie Sambora and singer Jon Bon Jovi demonstrating the kind of onstage charisma and synergy that has made this band what it is: one of the biggest in the world and a touring powerhouse still gaining momentum. It's not hard to envision 20 more years of this, so get ready.
After a rare and too-quick stop into the Billboard New York offices, it was time to head out to Shea for what Billy Joel's longtime agent Dennis Arfa has repeatedly assured me is "the biggest concert in the U.S.A. this year." Just as I thought I was faced with the daunting task of taking the New York subway system out to Flushing, Arfa scores me a ride with Phillips and A&R legend/true "music guy" Jeff Finster.
After bribing the parking guy in what native New Yorker Phillips referred to as a "truly New York experience," we hit the backstage area under Shea. It was a dungeon-like area populated with even more touring biz bigwigs than the night before, including a ton of Live Nation execs like Detroit's Motor Rick Franks, the King of the Carolinas Wilson Howard, Mr. Connecticut Jimmy Koplik, Mr. New York Kevin Morrow, God of Merch Dell Furano and Legend of Legends Ron Delsener. Also soaking it in was co-promoter Mitch Slater, now Chief Operating Officer/senior executive VP at CKX, but once and now again for this night a promoter. Al Pacino's Michael Corleone in "The Godfather II" comes to mind: "Just when I thought I was out ... they pull me back in!"
It was Arfa's party backstage, and many stories were told that I better not repeat in print. But once the sun began to set over Shea, it was Billy time. Even with a night of crowd-pleasing special guests, at a stadium in its final days with the imposing shadow of a new showplace over his shoulder, Joel and his versatile band ruled the night in the first of the two Last Play at Shea concerts.
When Joel took the stage to the theme from "The Natural," as fate would have it, Slater and I wound up at the beer stand at the same time. Slater maintain's he was buying a beer like a Regular Joe because he is a Regular Joe, raised in the shadow of this stadium. We enjoyed a toast as Joel sang a goose-bump inducing national anthem. Play ball. -- Ray Waddell
Sub Pop 20: The Photos
Photos continue after the link.