What I found in 2013- What I hated in 2013

English: Arcade Fire at the Eurockéennes of 20...
English: Arcade Fire at the Eurockéennes of 2007. Français : Le groupe Arcade Fire aux Eurockéennes de 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not good enough to hear a band and immediately place them in context of music relevance for the year. It takes a while for things to seep down into the cerebral cortex and percolate themselves out.

I will say…, however -This blog has helped me figure things out a little faster- I am more engaged than I used to be.

Here is what happened to me in 2013 as an “out of touch” rock music fan.

I’ll do 5 that caught me and 5 I hated

What I liked:

The Xx– Not a new band, but new to me as I caught the fever- Atmospheric elegant sound. Like getting lost in a really trendy fog and having someone hand you a fantastic drink that quenches the thirst and tickles the soul.

The Black KeysThey went from a band I heard of and thought they were O.K to possibly the most solid rock band of this century- I never hear a bad song from these guys and after repeated listens of their standard hits-they just gain traction.

Arcade Fire-Afterlife– I know-This is arty French hipster self-important pompous drivel—– I know that they stand opposed to everything I love about gritty down to earth rock music. But I love this song- I love it so much that I might be tempted to find a nice puffy shirt and neon pair of kicks to try and comply with their dress code and catch them at a concert this summer. I love it so much that I will try one more time to make it through the whole Reflektor album on Spotify.

Spotify-Yes, I am very late to this party. I am surprised at the amount of music available for nothing on this service. It’s like stealing as it is so much quality for nothing. (kind of like the Cave of Fame blog!)

Wrecking Ball-Miley Cyrus((((Guilty pleasure alert))))) I hated this song the first time I heard it—-I now secretly love it if my kids turn it up. I thought it was stupid that she was naked on a wrecking ball- I now understand that if you are going to be naked on a wrecking ball—-do it while you are still young! And it plays more like nudity in renaissance art to me now. (I think this Arcade Fire thing has messed up my brain)

But seriously –if Helen Mirron got on a wrecking ball with nothing but her fantastic acting skill and did a photo shoot for Vanity Fair—-all the critics would talk about what a brave and edgy cool-chick she really is—-and would trip over all the compliments that they would throw at her unbridled toes.

What I hated:

Robin-Thicke 1
Robin-Thicke 1 (Photo credit: jazzuality.com)

Robin Thicke- That blurred lines garbage is still a ripe smell in the air as we hit 2014. Also, don’t forget that he played a major role in the big twerk-off of 2013- Without him providing the “hammer” to Miley’s “nail”—-The whole thing might not have got so insane. I dislike him so much that I was tempted to browse through “Revelations” and check the attributes of the Antichrist….you know….just to rule him out in my mind because I do have some doubts.

Kiss going in the Rock and Roll hall of FameI guess they were going to break down the wall at some point to get in. It was only a matter of time before this Cleveland institution that usually gets it right caved in under the force of those boots and rabid fans.

Nostalgia  “bait and switch” – Take a band like say “Bon Jovi” with only one original member like say “John Bon Jovi” and sell it like the whole band will be there. Or the R.E.O Speedwagon-Terrible Ted  Nugent and Styx –“Mayhem of the Mid-west” tour or whatever it was called. At least Ted Nugent was a standalone product –so that was good. These old  bands that dwindle down to one or two and fight over the name to see who has the rights to a half-hearted performance of bygone hits is a bit much. You might as well go see a good cover band.

Losing Lou Reed- This was really sad because even though he was old and not in great shape- I kind of thought he would last forever.

Rush seems to be gaining power and respect. This bugs me because I may have to go back and change my post about being a Rush hater. I am now changing my position from a Rush hater to a Rush “whateverer”. I still reserve the right to dislike music fans that take it as a solid fact that dislike of Rush means no real taste in rock music. (I think my wrecking ball admission is a worse transgression)

How to end up handcuffed backstage at a REO Speedwagon concert.

The Essential REO Speedwagon
The Essential REO Speedwagon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I need some kind of rock n roll diploma to hang by my computer to justify me as a blogger of rock music; so I will tell this story from 1982.

My taste in music is not always as good as I think- now or in the past

Case in point:

 I once was an REO Speedwagon fanatic.

I am not proud of this but I admit that I may still own the entire REO Speedwagon catalogue. (at least up until the incident in the title)…yes, even those obscure records before Kevin Cronin took over as lead singer-And it gets worse:

I proudly wore a R.E.O belt buckle that I bought at the county fair. Back in the good ol’ days when copyright infringement was not farmed out to Asian countries; we made quality fake stuff right here in the U.S.A!!

While my friends were listening to Pink Floyd and Kiss- I was way ahead of the curve on pure grain-fed Midwestern formula paint by numbers watered down blues. (In my defense- “You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish” is not a bad record)

And then R.E.O abandoned their  rock n’ roll roots and became the biggest pop/rock band in America with the release of Hi Infidelity.  

This was the biggest selling rock album in America In 1982.

And that is when I met my heroes in a bar…and ended up in handcuffs backstage at their sold-out show.

And you probably won’t believe this story.

I had connections that got me great seats to concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in N.Y

On my list of shows that year was R.E.O Speedwagon.

I had planned to take a girl friend but that required finding a girl and having her remain in “active girl friend status” at the time of this show- I had two months to make this happen but as an awkward, nerdy and slightly weird young adult- fate was stacked against me- I had great seats and no date a couple days before the show. I sold my tickets to some happy couple for no profit.

Plus the band was a riot of popularity as mega stars and my infatuation with them was rapidly fading. I told myself they had sold-out.

On the night before the show I am sitting in a bar in downtown Saratoga Springs- It is 1am and the bar band is playing- there are maybe 12 of us in there and the owner of said establishment has stopped collecting the 2 dollar cover charge.

Who walks in but Kevin Cronin, Gary Richrath and one other dude from R.E.O (maybe the drummer?- I guess I need help from one of the other eleven in the bar that night to help me remember?)

They walk to the stage and rip into “Johnny Be Good” with a couple members of the bar band- They did play a couple more songs before departing and I remember slapping Kevin Cronin on the back and saying thanks as they walked out (BTW-he does not like that- just in case you get in range)

But how cool is the biggest band on the planet just going back and playing for fun?

I should have left it right there, but:

Night of the show I am hanging outside the gates at the Performing Arts Center because I have no tickets…some go jumping over the fence and I join them to sneak in.

A security guard chases me and I run away—I am fast but the guard is faster and tackles me in a spectacular dive which could have made the top ten on Sports Center. The crowd loved it!

I am handcuffed and put on a golf cart with other criminals to be processed. They do the processing backstage at the show—which is kind of ironic because that is closer than any of us dreamed of getting.

One scary dude handcuffed to a locker and is yelling obscenities and insults at me largely because I am dressed like a geek. I realize 3 things at that moment:

  1. I am a geek and even getting arrested with people does not automatically make me “cool” with those people.
  2. I am going to be calm and make good decisions from this point forward so that I don’t end up going to jail.
  3. Damn, that guard was fast! He must do a 4.1 time on the forty yard dash!

Thankfully- I was issued a ticket and released- It was a 50 dollar fine.

Soon after this I would get seriously in to more underground music.

And 30 years later I would start a blog.

Any questions?

What’s wrong with maturity?

Listening to “Snow” on the iPod got my brain working .The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around a long time. The catalog of  albums show growth as artists and human beings. This is the exception rather than the rule.

Case in point and coming to a hockey rink or basketball arena near you is the “Midwest Rock N’ Roll Express” featuring R.E.O Speedwagon, STYX and Ted Nugent. I don’t know the exact line-up of each band, but I would guess you are going to get Kevin Cronin from R.E.O, Tommy Shaw from STYX and Terrible Ted himself at a minimum. As rock fans we sometimes don’t want the artists to mature and evolve. We want to hear Cat Scratch Fever and Come Sail Away over and over again. “Roll with the Changes” is a great song and I want to hear it in the cave but I’m not sure I want to hear it without Gary Richrath playing it. The original versions of these bands used to fill stadiums and now it takes all three of them to ¾ fill a hockey rink. This is stardom being sent down to the minors to live off the glory days. This is Spinal Tap in real life. The ugly side of nostalgia; there will not be many young people at these shows. You never want to see your heroes eating day old egg salad sandwiches at the bowling alley late at night when once they were gods. But there you go….get your tickets now or wait ‘till next year when you can catch them opening up for a puppet show at the county fair.

Disclaimer:

I am quite aware of the irony of me, a nobody, taking shots at these guys when I am not qualified to scare wildebeests out of the bush so Ted can take a shot with his machine gun and opening for a puppet show at the fair would qualify as my best day of the year!