What do Metric, Queens of the Stone Age, Merle Haggard, the Meters and Sloan have in common? No, they’re not the program block of a hip radio station, they’re the opening acts for the upcoming Rolling Stones tour.
While I’m grateful that the ol’ boys are trying to be hip and expose their audience to these great bands who deserve wider audiences (not to mention letting Merle and the Meters play in large arenas), there’s also a the danger of backlash with this kind of progressive stance. When Prince opened for the Stones in the early 80’s, he got his share of boo’s: this was before he became a mega-star. Similarly, on the Steel Wheels tour, the Stones alternated between openers such as black rock figureheads Living Colour and Guns N’ Roses who had just put out the racist, xenophobic “One In A Million”- interesting message to the fans, eh?
There’s also the danger that a great band that thrives in clubs will wilt in a large space. I saw that when Sonic Youth opened for Neil Young in the early 90’s at Madison Square Garden- they got boo’d there and not because the band wasn’t hot. Also, when I saw Rilo Kiley at MSG (opening for Coldplay), their show didn’t make any sense- they couldn’t play and project for an audience like that. When I’d seen RK play at the much smaller Webster Hall only a few weeks apart from that, they shined.
Don’t get me wrong- I’d love to see any of those bands get their due and find a larger audience. Nevertheless, careful what you wish for…