RIMSHOTS: Pumpkins benefit, Riot Fest, Live Nation, Rhymefest

July 21, 2010

Here’s an assortment of newsy tidbits that have accumulated over the last few days while I’ve been chilling out post-Pitchfork.

 * NOW-LOUSY BAND TO PLAY BENEFIT FOR VERY GOOD CAUSE

Metro announced yesterday that the band that is now the Smashing Pumpkins in Name Only—that is to say, Billy Corgan and the current group of hired ringers—will perform a benefit concert at the venerated Clark Street club on Tuesday (July 27) to raise money for Matthew Leone, the bassist from the Chicago band Madina Lake, who was hospitalized with severe brain trauma after intervening to stop a woman he passed on the street from being beaten by her husband. Tickets are being sold via a raffle system, and people can enter the raffle as many times as they like for $10 for each entry. Winners will receive two tickets to the concert, and the raffle will continue until 2 p.m. Saturday, with winners being notified via email at 5 p.m. that day.

Visit the Metro Web site to enter the raffle, or for more information about a limited number of VIP tickets in the balcony ($100) and tickets to the soundcheck ($500).

* MORE BANDS ADDED TO THE RIOT FEST BILL

The first batch of bands playing this year’s Riot Fest was announced on July 8 and included Bad Religion, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and the Circle Jerks. Today, promoters added Propagandhi, Anti-Flag, and Off! to the list, with the promise that the full lineup’s announcement is coming on Aug. 3. Meanwhile, three-day passes and individual tickets go on sale Saturday (July 24) at noon via Ticket Web, a subsidiary of the dreaded Ticketmaster. And speaking of…

* BAD TIMES FOR TICKETMASTER/LIVE NATION

I was so busy with Pitchfork that I didn’t have time to note the waves of negative fallout—including plummeting stock prices—that greeted last week’s sanctimonious comments by the new executives running Ticketmaster/Live Nation when they met with their investors, who justifiably are skeptical about the merged giant’s disintegrating summer concert season.

Could it all be blamed on skyrocketing ticket prices, egregious service fees, mediocre music in horribly unpleasant venues, and blowback for the sort of soulless, greedy, and insensitive mega-corporation that the merger created? Nah.

Shortsighted investors and the press are to blame, it seems!

Here’s the Wall Street Journal:

Last Thursday’s presentation certainly provided entertainment value, although perhaps not in the way executives intended. It isn’t uncommon for companies to disclose that earnings may be lower than previously projected. But it is less common for an executive chairman to turn hostile, as an irritated Irving Azoff did in telling investors he hoped signs they were selling didn’t indicate Live Nation had a group of “shortsighted” investors. The selloff since Thursday has taken Live Nation stock down more than 20%. …

It didn’t help that executives repeatedly blamed media reports about weaker concert sales for dissuading musical acts from touring, contributing to the possible second-half slump. Or that Mr. Azoff suggested research from industry publication Pollstar shouldn’t be trusted, shortly after Live Nation executives had cited Pollstar data in their presentations. Music insiders were incredulous at a slide CEO Michael Rapino displayed, implying Live Nation could help a musician sell out a concert arena three months after posting his first music video on YouTube, instead of several years it might have taken in the past.

And here’s the Associated Press:

Adjusted operating income for 2010 is expected at $405 million, down from $445 million last year, despite the benefits of its merger this year with Ticketmaster.

Could consumers finally be talking back to the most distasteful entity in the music business in the only way that matters to it—with their wallets? As Brian Carpizo of the Eventric blog wrote in a recent post, “When you start calling something a ‘ticket fee’ and it approaches 50-80% of the ticket price… you get anger and resistance.” The post includes Rolling Stone’s illuminating graphics from last year showing just where Ticketmaster/Live Nation’s “convenience fees” wind up, so it’s worth taking a look.

* RHYMEFEST MAKES A VERY FUNNY VIDEO FOR “PROSPERITY”

Finally, Chicago rapper Rhymefest has made a great clip with director Konee Rok of “Propsperity,” his dead-on assault of celebrity television ministers, from his killer recent album “El Che.”

You can watch the clip here.

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