What a Palooza!
Despite the government's insistence that things are looking better in the U.S. economy, the summer concert season has suffered one setback after another. Since successful concert tours by Rod Stewart and Prince earlier in the year, ticket sales have dropped dramatically prompting the cancellation of several concert tours. Top name acts, such as Britney Spears and Cristina Aguilera have mysteriously (and conveniently) come up with illness or injuries causing them to cancel upcoming tours. Industry wags have proposed numerous reasons why people aren't flocking to see their favorites this summer: high ticket prices ($50 is not uncommon), war and or economy anxiety, the fickle ways of the public - who may have outgrown their former infatuations or replaced them with new American Idol pop tarts of the month, the aging of the demographics, competition from video games and movies like "Spider Man," or even the evil workings of Clear Channel who holds ownership of many of the venues in its monopolistic tentacles.
Not all tours have been affected: OzzFest will probably do well in attracting their diehard metal fans - especially given Black Sabbath is on the scene, dinosaurs with big followings (Stones, Who, etc...) still do well, jam bands like String Cheese Incident - with their lack of choreography, won't suffer, and the Parrotheads will never abandon their deck-shoed icon, but for the rest of the music community the trend seems troubling. My own pain stems from the cancellation of Lollapalooza - which featured an impressive and intriguing lineup. I was rubbing my hands together gleefully at the prospects of seeing Morrissey, Sonic Youth, Flaming Lips, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the reformed The Pixies! among several others, only to have my hopes dashed when Perry pulled the plug due to poor advance sales. As someone who once told Ralph Nader to run for president, only to regret my words later, I find myself feeling a sense of guilt for not pre-buying my tickets ahead of time. My excuse is a lame one, but I'm sure many can relate - I just got too busy.
It is speculated that the audience for the alt rockers set to appear has aged into a different sphere, where music takes a back seat to buying baby food and making car payments; and that had Mr. Farrell signed up Blink 182, Korn, Hoobastank, John Mayer, and Good Charlotte he would have been beating ticket buyers off with a stick. Say it isn't so, I cried. Surely good music is appreciated throughout the passing of time. Alas it is not so.
Britney notwithstanding, it's a shame though - concerts often provide an enjoyable outlet for the expression of joy and community through the interaction between the band/artist and the audience through the medium of music, and it would be disheartening to say the least to predict a future without such opportunities (due to a severe economic downturn, or a Patriot Act amendment outlawing assemblies). So I hope you will all take a deep breath, turn off the Xbox, and get out there and take in a concert this summer - whether it is the local brass band or a zydeco ensemble or Billy Joel even. Support your favorite artists, have some fun, and enjoy the benefit that music provides in soothing and exciting your tired brains. I can't tell you to skip the car payment (and for gosh sakes don't skip the baby food), but always remember you can't take it with you - so might as well get a bit of enjoyment out of all your hard work, eh?
And so let us have a moment of silence for the death of Lollapalooza, and hope for the return of reasonable ticket prices, good jobs with fair pay, the end of monopolies and corporate control, and of course peace on earth. And finally, send some goodwill to David Bowie who had to cancel his tour in Europe after undergoing emergency heart surgery (really!). The Man Who Fell To Earth has given a lot of great music to his fans over the years - let's hope he still has many more!
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