Thursday, October 29, 2009

The AC/DC Fetish

With about 10,000 other lunatics, I celebrated the ideological and adolescent fantasies of the rock-n-roll monster that is AC/DC. Arriving early, fearing the worse with the new paperless ticketing system designed to thwart scalpers, we had no problem getting through the gate and past the $35 t-shirts, to find our 10th row seats. After removing the opening act’s gear, the stage was set for one of the most popular and enduring bands in rock.

The lights dropped and a large video screen behind the stage displayed a cartoon of the rock-n-roll train engineered by a devilish imp likeness of Angus Young. Of course on this train trouble arrived in the form of scantily clad ladies who distracted the band in various lascivious ways. The antagonists of the intro video, disproportionately built young women, who would make every parent cringe and every young boy anxious, set the tone for the evening. As Angus reached for the guitar that would save the train, the stage exploded with pyro and the screen split in two, as a full-sized steam train rolled onto the stage along with the band launching into the lead single, “Rock N’ Roll Train,” from the new album. “Black Ice” (available exclusively at Wal-mart) was well represented throughout the night with 4 of the set’s 18 songs.

With lyrics work-horse lyrics about the holy trinity—sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll—AC/DC are not encouraging mass dissent or protest. In fact, their brand of escapism keeps us more firmly entrenched in the hegemonic, patriarchal ideology of global capitalism. The video accompanying the concert version of “War Machine,” depicts woman and guitars being dropped out of a bomber outfitted with devil horns and piloted by you know who. They played their hits from “Highway to Hell” to “Back in Black” with brutal volume, guitar mastery, and staging to keep all the ADHD kids enthralled. Which brings us to the idea of “fetishistic disavowal”; the idea of saying, “I know very well, but… .” “I know I should not shop at Wal-mart because it furthers the exploitation of the working class, but… .”
As it relates to AC/DC: “ I know I shouldn’t be enjoying the objectification of women, the reveling in drug use, and the deafening loudness of the music, but…it’s awesome!!!”

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is it political? It's the Flaming Lips!

OK, although the new song from the Flaming Lips isn't the most political, it sure is one of the best musical performances I've seen on TV this year.
With "Watching the Planets," the Flaming Lips have returned to their mischievous mind expansion attack.
Conan gives a shout out for the Lips' upcoming VooDoo Fest
If you haven't seen the Lips live, you haven't seen the other side of the rainbow.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Are the Backstreet Boys what is wrong with music?

Over the hill boy band, Backstreet Boys, have released a new single. … ... After a moment or two of silence in order to process such news, most people reply, “So what?” Well, the good folks at USA Today must feel that this is important news. For on Oct. 5, the lead music review was of the new song, “This is Us.” Maybe it was a slow week in music.

Nonetheless, the real problem with the review comes when Elysa Gardner writes: “Certainly, no one expects, or wants, to listen to the Backstreet Boys dissect the conflict in Afghanistan.” And here may be the actual problem with most music: it is afraid to confront the audience and make them think. With market-driven music riding the airwaves into the vacuum between the ears of most “consumers,” it is no wonder most people haven’t a clue when it comes to the realities of our society. Granted, those realities are complex and cannot be adequately addressed in a three minute pop song; however, that doesn’t mean that music has to become empty of all social significance. Maybe if the Backstreet Boys would “dissect the conflict [war] in Afghanistan,” their fans would become more politically active. If more musicians were openly political, then politics wouldn’t be a dirty word. And hell, if the Backstreet Boys released a song about the numerous wars we have recently instigated, I might just buy their CD. Might!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mr. Magic--Original Rap DJ Dies

This weekend DJ Mr. Magic passed away from a heart attack. Although he was the first DJ on commercial radio to have a rap show and help start the careers of many rap and hip-hop performers, since he was in New York I never heard a show of his. Until his death, I had no idea how influential he was to the burgeoning rap scene.

Many of you probably never heard him either but then again, maybe you have...

Check out this Public Enemy performance from Coachella 2009. The tune is from their seminal album It takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (if you don’t own it—you should).

You can listen to the NPR story about his death here.

Anyone who helped launch Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy (even accidentally) deserves to be remembered.