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for June 10, 2003

That's Why It's Alternative
by Stiffy Biceptz

A recent entertainment news item discussed the upcoming flood of summer concert tours, emphasizing the dominance of classic 70's rockers at the top of the list in terms of ticket sales and expected gross income. Ticket volumes were measured in the millions, with gross revenues described in terms of hundreds of millions. Ticket prices were rarely less than a hundred bucks.
Bands like the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Kiss plan to fill stadiums all across America, just as they did 25 years ago. Same show, less hair, more money. And last summer it was exactly the same. Billy Joel, Elton John, Springsteen, with 60's acts Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Cher sharing the top tens spots with classic rock clones Dave Matthew's and Creed. Nary an alternative sound in sight.
But 25 years ago was also the time when Punk, Alternative and New Wave exploded onto the scene, in direct response to the bloated dope fueled excesses of the bands mentioned above. Where then is the New Wave / Punk nostalgia tour? How come The Pretenders aren't filling stadiums with the Clash, and the Ramones aren't selling out Giants Stadium. Ok, too many of those folks are dead, dammit. But what about the Smiths, the Dead Kennedys, Blondie, and Joe Jackson. Wouldn't a Jam/Buzzcocks/Damned/Pistols tour be just as popular as the upcoming Journey/Styx/Reo Speedwagon? Even the horrid metal hair bands of the mid to late eighties have already had stadium filling nostalgia tours, and its only been maybe 15 years since they sucked.
The truth is I don't ever want to see my Alt/Punk/New Wave favorites EVER play stadiums. Playing monster venues 25 years after your artistic and creative energy waned is not flattering, for the performer or the audience. Playing stadiums is awful under any circumstances. Its not intimate, not personal, not art. Besides, being Alternative means not being so palatable to the mainstream, not being a quarter mile from the stage, not charging hundred's of dollars for a ticket. It also means bowing out when your time is up. Not that you have to, but at least being mature enough to walk away and move forward. Like the Clash, Ramones, Smiths and many other Alt heroes had the courage to do. Going on forever can really cheapen great music. Look at the Stones. Pathetic. But the Beatles, their legacy remains untarnished because they quit and never got back together.
So forget all that corporate monster scale nonsense. You want nostalgia? Go see X this summer in Philly with the Rollins band. Or the Human League. Or the Circle Jerks. The Fall are touring but you'll have to stay indoors and pay less than 20 bucks. Spend the leftover on a real beer. Make sure you see Rancid, coming to a parking lot near you. Hell, Free Parking did that 13 years ago. Maybe check out Pat Benatar at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. She was always cool.
There's a reason it's called Alternative. Go find out in a bar, parking lot or local fire trap wherever great music is served.

©2003 Stiffy Biceptz

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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