Saturday, December 21, 2002

Biggest Musical Disappointments of 2002

There's no point in doing a "worst of" list.  The targets are too numerous and too obvious.  So instead I'll focus on what didn't live up to my expectations:

The Who Tweeter Center, August 24.  There is no reason to fault Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey for choosing to go ahead with the tour right after John Entwistle's death. Financial concerns aside, there are good emotional arguments for carrying on with established plans after the loss of a loved one.

But the show ended up too "Who By Numbers." Replacement bass player Pino Pallidino was wise to not take the spotlight of someone who shunned the spotlight anyway. He could only be described as adequate. When a teammate was killed in the Tour de France in 1995, Lance Armstrong won a stage a few days later and proclaimed, "Today I rode with the strength of two men." Pete and Roger may have been trying to honor John's spirit, but they didn't absorb his strength. I left feeling the need to add an asterisk and footnote when saying that the Who is my favorite band and craving a new solo album and tour from Pete.

The end of the Chameleons UK concert Metro, October 14. As wondrous as opening number "Swamp Thing" was (see yesterday's post), the Chameleons couldn't sustain their momentum. As the set wore on, one guitarist got more drunk and more argumentative, complaining about various aspects of the club. When they returned for an encore, he went on an endless, meandering tirade. It was already late, and who knew when he'd finally shut up and allow the band to start playing again. For a group that never had a lot of fans in the first place, they should be more concerned about attracting new ones than alienating the few they have left.

Radio 4 Empty Bottle, November 4. Maybe it can be chalked up to a bad sound mix. The edgy, metallic guitar got lost behind the wall of percussion.  Maybe it can be chalked up to timing. They urged, "Get behind the struggled," so on the eve of Election Day I was preoccupied with getting up early the next morning to vote. In any case, they didn't match the electricity of Gotham.

Concerts missed because of cycling:  The Church, The Woggles, Cinerama The problem with having multiple passions is that it creates scheduling conflicts.  I was out of town attending bicycling events when three great live bands came through Chicago.

Canceled Fall tour Originally, the Fall would have been in the above list of concerts missed for cycling, but their spring tour was canceled. They rescheduled for October and I had tickets, but the tour was canceled again. Visa problems or something. Mark E. Smith & Co. are maddeningly erratic, horrible in one performance but the greatest band in the world at that moment the next time. It's always worth it to take that gamble that it'll be a good night and frustrating when the chance is lost.

New Bomb Turks Metro, June 5. It was the perfect opportunity. The Columbus quartet had been plying their garage punk for about a decade to small but appreciative audiences. They aren't young and cute like the Strokes and they have an aggressive edge, but an opening slot with the Hives gave them a shot at reaching out to the MTV crowd. Front man Eric Davidson tried to incite the audience and the rest of the band worked hard, but they just never achieved their usual tightness.

Rob Zombie Aragon Ballroom, April 5. Rob Zombie is a cut above most metallers. Yeah, he owes a few back royalty payments to Al Jourgensen for his appearance. But he's intelligently humorous in interviews. Rather than exploiting teens' desire to piss off and shock their parents, his brand of scariness is an homage to the horror movies he worships. In other words, he respects his audience. Or so I thought until I got to the Aragon. Staff of the band or venue were shining lights on women, egging the rest of the audience to encourage them to flash. It was such a sexually oppressive atmosphere that Rob and the band and the dancers and puppet masters would have to be great to make up for it, and their were too leaden. I left wanting to listen to Belle & Sebastian. Making matters worse, scheduled openers the Damned back out of the tour due to the hostile audience and the only opening act was cliche-riddled in their "rebelliousness."

Tweeter Center How can you build a venue designed to hold 30,000 people without any public transportation access and only one four-lane exit to funnel cars in and out? Getting to and from the place is such torture that it puts a hurdle in front of enjoying any concert there.

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