Sunday, August 30, 2009

Musical Roundtables

After receiving the go-ahead to ignore - or perhaps the better term is pave over the site construction - the Roundtable returns for another installment.

Recently we have dealt with a number of heavy issues. I decided this week we would give the Gentlemen a break and concentrate on something more entertaining, a splendor of imaginary mass media for the media-hungry masses. I posed the question to the Roundtable attendees;

"You are given the task of putting together the greatest musical extravaganza of all time. What is the format of your monolithic concert, and which artists are invited to perform?"

Answers were as varied as the eclectic musical styles of our Gentlemen. With that in mind, let us peruse the thoughts of our amateur producers, and think about the concerts which might have been.

Adam Winer

My musical conglomerate would be comprised of Bob Dylan on hermonica, Thurston Moore and Jonny Greenwood on guitar, Pete Townshend on base, Kurt Cobain on keyboard, David Byrne can do whatever he wants, the Beatles would be the backup dancers, only, and Frank Zappa, on the drums. They can play only noise rock. They would play in a circle, never facing the audience that surrounds them. The performance and audience would be in a circular dome. Tickets would be by invitation only, and would read, "you are invited by anyone to do anything. You are invited for all time." The name of the band would be called Team Awesome.

Max Nova

This question seems right in my wheelhouse. At this rate our next roundtable question will be either "If you could hug a tree, what tree would it be?" or "Beards are awesome, aren't they? Discuss."

But here's the thing about this question - festivals are tiring. Hell, concerts with four bands on the bill are tiring. Just seeing Broken Social Scene (as much as I like their albums) is fucking exhausting. But a long running discussion I've had with Rohan and in my own head has been about the Don't Look Back series of concerts where bands play a "classic" albums straight through. The problem is that these rarely results in the worlds greatest concerts, even if fans are generally pretty happy. These shows compromise the basic concert of a concert -- a somewhat unexpected sequence of songs that exists as a separate entity from the recorded work.

Still if I could plan a Don't Look Back show it would be a double-bill of Stereolab doing Cobra and Phases ... with High Llamas doing Hawaii, two related and highly orchestrated albums that could only be pulled off in a special context like this. Alternately, I'd love to hear Public Image Ltd doing Metal Box/Second Edition.

But if I really had my way, I'd like to take this in a different direction. I wrote multiple long posts about concert setlist construction, so here's what I want to see: big name bands doing deep-catalogue sets: no hits, and only material form the first X albums (X varying by the band). So Coldplay would only play stuff from the early EPs through Rush of Blood, U2 would only play songs from "11 O'clock Tick Tock" through War. Radiohead would only play songs from OK Computer through Amnesiac (the exception that proves the rule), Smashing Pumpkins would play from Gish through Pisces Iscariot, and Elvis Costello would focus on his first 5 or 6 albums.

That's the kind of festival or series of concerts I would pay big bucks for. And if a fan says before the show, "man I hope Coldplay plays 'Brothers and Sisters'" or "it would be awesome if Elvis played 'Chemistry Class'" there's a real chance it might actually happen. These concerts would keep the fun retro-ness of Don't Look Back, but also still be "concerts" with all the unpredictability that should be a part of live music.

Alex Keiper

The Beatles. All of them. John and George can just get over that whole being-dead thing.

And it won't be so much a 'concert' as it will be them following me around and emerging occasionally from behind shrubberies and such (in Sgt. Pepper attire) to provide musical accompaniment to the momentous occasions of my life (or just to alleviate momentary boredom). Consider it my own personal extravaganza.

John Ozkirbas

"If you book them, they will come"
- Jim Morrison (portrayed by Michael A. Nickles)

When putting on the greatest musical extravaganza in history, no guide serves better than the prolific film, Wayne's World II (staring Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey). While WWII outlines the process of throwing a rock concert of Woodstock proportions - let's be honest - I'm far too indecisive to get past the prospect of "venue." So, in a universe where I'm afforded the opportunity to organize such a spectacle, I'm going to assume that I have the ability to change my personality at will. In doing so, I will be harnessing the knowledge, expertise, and appearance of fictitious, yet legendary, road crewman, Del Preston:

So. You want to throw a concert the likes the world has never seen before? Listen, sonny Jim, I have been a part of every major rock experience since the early seventies - so I can tell you this will be no easy task. I remember touring with Led Zeppelin, on the road, hauling 15 bloody barrels of illegally transported moonshine across multiple state lines. And, John Bonham loved him some moonshine, God rest him. So, there I was, with 2 mates from the crew barreling down a highway in northern Kansas, in a diversion car to make sure the police never caught on to our little operation when - all of a sudden - we see a man, stark naked, standing in the middle of the bleeding road covered in what looked like baking powder. Needless to say, it was a sight to make any man stop and so we did. Poor bloke, broke off into a sob story about how was cheating on his girlfriend and she caught him in the act when 10 police cars came on us from nowhere and took us off to sodding jail for conspiracy. But, to our surprise, when we arrived we found the rest of the crew, the band, and Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones, of all people, locked up as well. No one knew why Keith was there and we all had the sense not to ask. After some convincing, the police took a barrel of moonshine for themselves and let us, and Keith, on our merry way. Mind you, losing a single barrel in an illegal alcohol transport operation is not bad at all. So, we get to the venue, sent up camp, got drunk on moonshine, and put on one hell of a show. That little jail stint is - also - how I became a roadie for the Rolling Stones. But, that's a different story altogether.

Running a concert of this magnitude will be the most grueling experience of your life. It will not be easy. You will get tired. You will get blisters. You will get aches and pains. Your concert will have 7 main-stages, each with a front stage and back stage crew, each dedicated to a different genre of music. It will be the Disney Land of rock concerts. One will be rap. One will be classic metal and rock. One will be a techno-rave barn. One will be a concert hall for classical music and jazz. One will be for independent and international music, including American, English, and Canadian Indie Rock. One will be pop music (for the kiddies). And one will be contemporary and alternative rock. They will be shielded from sound - so all you hear is what's being played in front of you. The concert will be 5 days long. You will have plenty to eat. You may not be able to sleep. I cannot guarantee that you will remember all of it. But, you will have an excellent time.

(cough, cough, COUGH, REVERT)

And that's the kind of concert I would put up. As far as who? Well, there'd be a lot of bands and independent artists. I know I'd love to have Minus the Bear, Tool, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. If I'm allowed to resurrect Brad Nowell, Sublime would be in attendance. Those are the first off the top of my head. I may or may not want VAST to show, if they play their first album only. Metallica, Dragon Force, Gun 'n Roses, Stone Temple Pilots, etc. DJ Sasha, DJ Tiƫsto, and Paul Oakenfold would probably man the techno-tent. The rest, well, it's just too much to list and I've talked far too long, so I'll stop typing here. I hope you enjoy my imaginary concert. I know I would.

PS - there would, of course, be a food quarter serving traditional concert food, regional food, international food. One of those booths would be a Skyr booth. Because, currently, I'm obsessed with it.

And that's what I have for you David. Enjoy.

Matt Lindeboom

It wouldn’t be Woodstock -- happened! We need to move on. Case-in-point: They tried it again with Woodstock ’99. Peace, love, unity turned to Fire, Limp Bizkit, and FIRE! We learned nothing organic can grow when the top soil is sponsored by Pepsi Co.

In fact, sponsorships of every kind would be absent from the World’s Greatest Music Event, which will be called THAT -- Are you going THAT? Where is THAT? THAT will burst the corpuscles in your face, thus melting it!

To bar business interests from what they will certainly see as the juiciest, most succulent, virgin money making morsel of the century -- their birthright in other words -- we shall distract them. We shall build a grand alternate reality. A people’s Truman Show, just for them! All the largest venues will be booked and promised ticket sales -- Madison Square Garden, The Wachovia Center, Bank of America Stadium, The Walmart Orpheum, CitiBank Arena; on and on. All of the details down to the brown M&Ms separated from the rest in the giant bowl of M&Ms will be set up with such masterful guile that nary a soul will understand the scale of the deceit that is about to shed its cover like a dress falling to the floor.

Meanwhile, TV will make love to THAT. Messy, stinky, raunchy love the sort of which shakes the walls of the world with proclamations and slogans and contests. THAT is the definition of your generation! The 18th caller will meet Jesus back stage, and then do shots of glacier-ice-chilled Patron with John Lennon and Franz Kafka. Frida Kalho will paint you in gold leaf and you’ll be paraded on the grand stage in front of billions as the bold incarnation of an earthly god. Indeed, every radio wave, cellphone, pixel, and vacuum tube will shudder with the rapture of THAT. We’ll all be rich and famous. Every single one of us, ravaged and trembling in the lights.

And finally, FINALLY the moment is here and everything -- every nano-atom -- is ready for you to come and make it all worth it. The realization of all this preparation and the building hype, the hundreds of thousands of last moment door-to-door leaflets stuck in screen doors across the heartland and the coasts as the sun came up red, comes to fruition now. one comes. THAT is silent as a sun-dried turd.

Leaflets blow idly in the wind.

Cicadas buzz from the inside of a few oak trees.

After a few hours the news gets around that mostly everyone has stayed home. Or gone on a walk. Lawyers are called and they get busy. They love this shit. They were born to grind. The eternal search for upon whom to lay down divinely righteous retribution -- some BAMF writ. And we, the organizers of this deceit, will have to run. In the words of Ray LaMontagne, "...ride like [we] ain't never done before."

David Pratt

When considering this question, I had to imagine what exactly constituted the idea of the perfect concert. Surely this would mean it had to appeal to audiences of every walk of life. However, despite many attempts, no single band in history has ever been so successful in a cross-genre sense as to satisfy every musical taste on the planet. Thus, a grand show centered around a single popular style would not fit the requirements of this task. No, this must go deeper. This must reach out to the world and unite them with the power of music. My show must be what Woodstock '99 was attempting to be. The most amazing show ever conceived.

I would use the same format - a vast, empty field set aside for human use with massive stages constructed to house performances of all shapes and sizes. Rather than stretch it out over 3 corporate-sponsored days, this would be one 24-hour festival dedicated to music through the decades. Five stages would be set up, and each would concurrently run shows just far enough apart that they would not overlap the other stages, yet there would still be no area within the concert grounds you could traverse and not be able to hear a show. On the guest list would be the most comprehensive list of artists ever assembled in one package. Here's something around how it would go:

Stage 1: The Roots Stage
Opening Act: America
Followed By: The Steve Miller Band, ZZ Top, Alice Cooper, The Band, Lovin' Spoonful, Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, Fleetwood Mac (w/Stevie Nicks), Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Willie Nelson, The Dixie Chicks, Styx, Peter Frampton, Chicago, Al Green, Kenny Chesney, Shania Twain, Bon Jovi, John Cougar Mellancamp
Closing Act: Garth Brooks

Stage 2: The Cross-Generational Stage
Opening Act: Twisted Sister
Followed By: Def Leppard, Poison, Quiet Riot, Genesis, Duran Duran, Skid Row, INXS, Motorhead, Van Halen, Metallica, Green Day, Oasis, The Foo Fighters, Cake, Dishwalla, Korn, Tool, Garbage, Marilyn Manson, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, The Stone Temple Pilots, The Smashing Pumpkins. Weezer
Closing Act: The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Stage 3: The Cross-Genre Stage
Opening Act: Salt-N-Pepa
Followed By: Janet Jackson, Destiny's Child (w/Beyonce) The NWA, The Wu-Tang Clan (w/Busta Rhymes filling in for ODB), The Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Rage Against the Machine, The Deftones, Eninem, Linkin Park, G-Unit (w/50 Cent), Matisyahu, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Gnarls Barkley, Alicia Keys, Usher
Closing Act: Kanye West

Stage 4: The Mini-Lilith Fair Stage
Opening Act: Liz Phair
Followed By: Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morrisette, Sinead O' Conner, Tori Amos, TATU, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, No Doubt, Jewel, Norah Jones, KT Tunstall, Nelly Furtado, Christina Aguilera, Melissa Ethridge, Bonnie Raitt, Bjork, Ani DiFranco, Pat Benatar, Joni Mitchell, Heart, Faith Hill, Sarah McLachlan, Fiona Apple
Closing Act: Madonna

Stage 5: The Holy Crap This is Epic Stage
Opening Act: Billy Joel
Followed By: The Who, Led Zeppelin, U2, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Killers, Phish, Eric Clapton, The Cure, David Bowie, Prince, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Elvis Costello, The Offspring, 2Pac (the statuate of limitations for faking your own death having passed), The Rolling Stones, Journey
Closing Act: Guns 'n Roses (original line-up)

With that much music in a 24-hour span, people would never run out of an act they wanted to see. There would be a senses-shattering overload, and many people would not make it out alive. However, they would die happy, and without being burned to death or raped in a mass riot.

And there we have it my friends; everything from roadie advice to fleecing America. The options are limitless, just like the range of opinions we often express here at the Roundtable. Be sure to keep watching, because you never know what might come up when the Gentlemen come together.


Max Nova said...

I think I only found two non-major label recording artists on Pratt's list.

Matt Lindeboom said...

I enjoyed Winer's change up. Dancing beatles. It would have never occurred to me.

David Pratt said...

I bet you'd still go if someone gave you tickets, Max. You could complain about how non-indy it was later to save face (or beard).

B.Graham said...

now that i am human again, i plan on posting my response as a separate post. but david, i can't do it without your blessing and/or subsequent picture

nevie said...

HOW can you have a mini lilith fair stage WITHOUT sarah mclachlan???? or fiona apple????

David Pratt said...

Wow, you are completely right, Nevie. Amendment made, I really thought I at least had Sarah in there the first time.

And B-Sharp - you can't see me perform the stations of the cross through the internet, but rest assured my blessing is with you.

ali d said...

It's the SIGN of the cross. The Stations of the Cross are entirely different and are unrelated to blessings.