Opening acts- the shame and the glory

After shelling out 50 bucks for nosebleed seats to see the Who (hey, it was half the price of the Stones), a few things struck me about the show at Madison Square Garden. Zak Starkey (aka Ringo's son) is a hell of a drummer. Daltrey still has a good strong voice though I've heard reports of it going on at later shows. Pete T's new material sounded pretty good and though he's recycling some of his old themes, he's still a helluva thoughtful and intelligent guy. But most of all, I felt kind of bad for their opening act and kind of admired the fact that they were chosen at all.

Peeping Tom is Mike Patton's latest band/project. After reaching commercial heights with Faith No More, he's done some decidedly uncommercial ventures as a solo artist including his Ipecac label and collaborations with John Zorn and Eye from the Boredoms among others. I wasn't too impressed by the Tom album but I thought that they were an interesting choice to open for the Who.

Unfortunately, most of the crowd didn't agree. As Patton appeared with a band and a DJ, doing a mix of funk, punk, hip-hop, they were roundly boo'd after each song, with assorted cat-calls asking them to leave the stage. My girlfriend thought they sounded OK and I just thought that I'd rather listen to them than Limp Bizkit. At the end of the set, Patton left the stage hugging the band members, looking like he felt good about the set- hell, he got to play at MSG.

Mind you, the Who could have done a safer picked and gone with a band that the fans could have related to more easily: I remember seeing the Pretenders open for the Stones a few years ago and crowd was definitely with them. But the fact that in this case, they went with a little riskier choice is definitely to their (the Who's) credit. I'd seen the Clash and David Johansen open for them back in '82 and while the former was cheered ("Rock the Cabash" was a radio staple then) and the later was boo'd (nothing on the radio and he was sick of the jock crowd anyway), it would have been a hell of a lot gutsier say to have the London boys open for them in the late 70's or the Dolls open for them in the early 70's. Having a weird cross-genre band like Peeping Tom open for them now is commendable, even if the crowd themselves didn't agree. I've also seen Sonic Youth boo'd when they opened for Neil Young (Ragged Glory tour in '91) but part of that was because a band like SY doesn't translate well in a huge arena, not to mention that Neil fans like their feedback in more controlled doses and less orchestrated. Similarly, Patton's new band would probably sound a lot better in a small venue, not to mention the fact that more people would be there who paid to see them and thus be more receptive to their music.

When the Who or Neil or any other bigger act decides to rope in adventurous smaller bands, I'd like to think it's not just because they like their music but they also want to expose their fans to it. As I saw, some of them aren't going to go along with it but there's bound to be a few open-minded fans in the crowd who might get interested. If radio is so fragmented that it's hard-pressed to provide any surprises anymore, can't we at least expect it from some arena bands?

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.