As noted several times in recent weeks (thank you, Feelies, Damon Albarn, TV on the Radio, and Radiohead), the music world is in the midst of a banner season for lulling, introspective, slow-build winners.
Linksomania continued, starting with yesterdayâ€™s announcement that Ticketmaster/Live Nation has struck a deal with Chicago-based bargain peddlers Groupon to launch a discount ticket site for concerts and live entertainment events.
Starting next month, GrouponLive will offer deals on empty concert seats, which can constitute as much as 40 percent of the house for summer concertsâ€”especially the mediocre mainstream offerings by Ticketmaster/Live Nation at venues such as the Charter One Pavilion on Northerly Island and the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park.
Groupon groupies swear by the online service and its ability to offer unexpected bargains for things they really donâ€™t need or places they wouldnâ€™t otherwise go. But will this really be a bargain in the music world?
A little-known secret in the concert industry is that a day or two before a show thatâ€™s selling poorly, big corporate promoters often â€śpaper the house,â€ť dumping loads of free tickets for giveaways by radio stations and other outlets, with the logic that itâ€™s better for a performer to play for any body rather than an empty seat.
Catching up with various and sundry of importance to the Chicago music scene: Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel named his cultural affairs team last week, and as with several of his decisions pertaining to the arts, itâ€™s hard to read the tea leaves.
Michelle Boone will lead the newly merged and therefore controversial Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, which oversees the big free summer music festivals, among other things.
Though many of us will forever think of them as musically precocious teenage snotbags cracking wise and fighting for our right to party, the Beastie Boys have spent most of the new millennium facing their mortality. Adam Yauch/MCA, Mike Diamond/Mike D, and Adam Horovitz/Ad-Rock have been making music for four decades now; they range in age from 44 to 46, and their recent output has been seriously curtailed by Yauchâ€™s battle with cancer. The fact is they have much more in common with U2 and R.E.M. at this point than they do with Odd Future, and like those arena rockersâ€™ recent efforts, the Beasties give us a new album that effectively is Beasties-by-numbers, lovingly referencing much of whatâ€™s come before.
Yet, somehow, â€śHot Sauce Committee Part Twoâ€ť seems a hundred times more vital than obvious nostalgia moves such as â€śCollapse Into Nowâ€ť or â€śAll That You Canâ€™t Leave Behind,â€ť and the reason is the Beasties are kicking hard against the woes of aging and theyâ€™re having a tremendous amount of fun doing it.
Pitchfork's Ryan Schreiber and Chris Kaskie Defend Booking Hip-Hop's Most Notorious Lyrical Misogynists.
UPDATED 11:50 a.m. (correcting two quotes I'd incorrectly attributed, one to Kaskie when it was Schreiber, and vice-versa).
With Eminem headlining Lollapalooza and the much-buzzed West Coast rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All claiming a key slot at the Pitchfork Music Festival, this summer is potentially a banner season for lyrics full of hateful fantasies about raping and murdering women echoing through Chicagoâ€™s parks.
Few would expect Lollapalooza owners C3 Presents and William Morris Endeavor to think twice about presenting Eminem. For one thing, the Walmart aesthetic of the reinvented destination festival is about gobbling up any act that will sell ticketsâ€”and the more tickets it sells, the better.
For another, Eminem circa 2011 is no longer the Eminem of the early 2000s. Heâ€™s long since become safe enough to be lauded by the Grammys and sell his songs to Detroit car commercials.
In an encouraging sign that perhaps Rahm Emanuel will not show undue favoritism to his big-bucks corporate-concert supporters at Ticketmaster/Live Nation and Lollapalooza, he has tapped Chicago-based independent promoters Jam Productions to stage the celebratory free concert heâ€™s hosting in Grant Park on May 14, two days before he is sworn in as mayor.
True, the concert will be headlined by creaky nostalgia act and horn-driven schlock-meisters Chicago. But as middle-of-the-road and uninspired as that choice may be, itâ€™s hard to imagine outgoing Mayor Richard Daley hosting a free concert of any kind to celebrate anything.
As first reported here shortly before the election, Emanuel received campaign contributions from the two top executives at the controversial and monopolistic national concert giant Ticketmaster/Live Nation: $5,000 from ruthless CEO Michael Rapino and $10,000 from executive chairman Irving Azoff, the infamous â€śPoison Dwarfâ€ť of the music industry.
Flashing a mouthful of metal braces as sharp and flashy as her irrepressible attitude, Marian Elliot was the most unlikely of rock stars. Rechristening herself Poly Styrene and leading her band X-Ray Spex at the height of the London punk explosion in the mid-â€™70s, she only gave us one brilliant and timeless album: â€śGerm Free Adolescents.â€ť But hers was a voice that absolutely was necessary, then and now, and it never will be forgotten.
The singer and musician died Monday evening after a valiant fight with breast cancer, which was announced to the world shortly after she celebrated the release of a new album, â€śGeneration Indigo.â€ť According to her publicists at Girlie Action:
At the core of Polyâ€™s work from â€śGerm Free Adolescentsâ€ť through â€śGeneration Indigoâ€ť is a revolutionary with a genuine love for this world and the people and things in it. Her indomitable heart is all over the new material from her championing of cruelty free products and as she put it, â€śbeing conscious of the slaughterhouse cultureâ€ť (â€śI Luv Ur Sneakersâ€ť) to giving voice to marginalized poor people worldwide (â€śNo Rockefellerâ€ť) to tackling racism (â€śColour Blindâ€ť). Poly Styrene never stopped exciting us with her incisive world-view, amazing wit, and her adventurous sound.