Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Hope I die before I get old...

...so goes the famous lyric from The Who's My Generation.

I was one of about 1200 or so people in attendance last night at a rock concert by Paul Westerberg. Westerberg, for you youngsters, was the frontman for the Replacements, a seminal punk/alternative band that came out of Minneapolis during the early 1980s. Along with Husker Du and Soul Asylum, they took over the mantle of American punk rock from the likes of the Ramones and Television, before yielding to the Seattle-based grunge movement a'la Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

Last night's show was at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus. It's a pretty decent place to see such shows...it's dark, dank, and they serve a good variety of legal beverages. What struck me about the show and the crowd was the average age of those in attendance. Westerberg is now 45 years old (same as me!) and the crowd was clearly in the same age range. There were a few younger fans there, but most were old punkers and folkers like myself. The security team didn't have much to worry about with the aged crowd and thus, were able to keep a tight lid on outrageous behavior (only one body surfer was able to do his shtick and only a brief whiff of illegal herbs permeated the area in front of the stage where I was located) . Overall, Westerberg's performance was typical: hard-rockin', a few muffed lyrics, and loads of fun.

This all got me to wondering about the business of rock-n-roll today. With the concern over lost music sales due to illegal MP3 downloads and an aging music audience, it seems that touring has become the lifeblood of a band's existence today. The grandfathers of rock-n-roll, the Rolling Stones, most of whom are in their early 60s, still tour and regularly are one of the top draws on the circuit. How long can these guys last? Makes me wonder if someday I'll see Paul Westerberg and Bob Mould strumming their guitars on a Carnival Cruise.

5 comments:

Mike Zourdos said...

These guys will last as long as they are making money, and there is always money to be made. As you said the Rolling Stones are ancient, but they have also done a good job of developing fans in the 18-35 range, so younger people continue to listen to their music. Keep in mind Black Sabbath has a "Final Renunion Tour" every other year at the Ozzfest, and they have been doing that since 1999. So, they make you think it will be the last, and then they keep coming back and that lures you in. Also, Metallica's members are about 40, they came about without a new album two years ago that debuted at #1, had a sold out stadium tour, and released an award winning documentary, granted Metallica is the 7th highestgrossing artist of all-time, but they just got a new basist and look like they are primed for a new record in another year. As long as their is money to be made, entertainers will make it.

Sarah Drake said...

I think it really depends on the band and how popular they were in the first place as to how long they will last in the public eye. Personally, as I have previously blogged, I am one of the few younger generation students that has never even downloaded a music file and still buy CD's.
I also love concerts though and whenever I have the time and money to do so, I go to them. I have actually been to Newport before at a Misfits concert... which I'm sure was probably quite a bit different from the Paul Westerberg concert! Myself, as well as some of my friends that I know of, are still very interested in some of the oldies type music that my generation isn't really supposed to be into. Personally though, I really like older bands such as The Beatles, CCR, Van Morrison, etc. However, I also like current music such as Black Eyed Peas or Usher. As for touring, I beleive a band like the Rolling Stones will probably last for as long as they keep playing just because it's The Rolling Stones, and even some of the younger generation is still interested in them because they are a classic rock and roll band.

Rachel Ruth said...

I have to agree with Sarah. I was born and raised on my parents' music... the likes of CCR, Cher, Elvis of course and others. Every ear I see Aerosmith and Bon Jovi at the Post Gazette Pavillion in suburbs of Pittsburgh. Oddly enough, Aerosmith put on one heck of a show, better than any of the younger bands I've seen. I read somewhere that bands only receive like 10% or less of cd sales, and that's why they have to tour so much in the first place.

Another thing that I find appealing and worth spending the money on about older bands is the fact that they still sound the same. Now, if you get someone like Britney up there singing live, it sounds nothing like the cd. The older guys know how to work it, they work the crowd and still sound as good as they did 30 years ago in the case of Aerosmith.

Cd sales might have also dropped lately because artists put out new cd's like it's nothing. I'm personally not going to buy a cd with only one hit on it, I'll wait till Greatest Hits album comes out!

Craig Meredith said...

Many rock-n-roll musicians/bands of the 60s, 70s, and early 80s are still kicking it on stage today as well as they did in their prime. Such bands as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Styx, REO Speedwagon, .38 Special, Def Leppard, Blue Oyster Cult, Van Halen, etc. love what they are doing and they see no reason to put there music to rest. Watching interviews and reading articles in magazines about these bands, their response to the question, “So when are you going to hang it up?,” is always, “Not until we die.” These bands love performing in front of large and small crowds. I won’t deny that they like getting payed, but they do it because they’ve built such a fan base. They want to be remembered for leaving a mark in the music history book. They're nothing like these new artist today. These artist today are more showbiz/hollywood, always trying to look good for their music video. For the most part, bands of the earlier genres are nice enough to stick around after concerts to chat and sign autographs. The musicians today seemingly fine their way to the back door, pick up their check, and head to the latest club. Rock-n-roll music will continue to live no matter what different style is brought to the table.

drewfish said...

My friends mom gave me and my buddys free tickets to a White Snake concert once. We laughed at the idea of seeing White Snake, but we went anyways (any excuse to party)and it was honestly the most entertaining concert I have ever been to and I think thats why these older bands continue to tour, because they are good at what they do. They put on a show and they rock. I've seen a lot of more modern bands in concert and they don't even compete. I definately agree with Craig when he says that music acts today are more showbiz/hollywood just trying to look good. That type of thing works well on MTV, but the fans that they get are "trendy" fans jumping to the next cool thing after a short time. Pop bands today will never be able to duplicate the fan base that earlier bands have maintained