1. Overtouring. From the article: “The sheds, meanwhile, are jammed with aging stars: Lionel Richie, Chicago/REO Speedwagon, Peter Frampton/Doobie Brothers, Foreigner/Styx, Backstreet Boys, Journey/Steve Miller Band and Kiss/Def Leppard.” Save for a few of these acts, all of these bands have toured the U.S. quite a bit in recent summers. (With mixed ticket sales.) Where’s the real impetus to see a band again you may have seen a few years ago?
2. Aging acts. At some point, most of the bands listed above are going to stop touring. Sooner rather than later. What happens then, especially since the concert industry seems very dependent on a group of acts who came of age decades ago? I worry about this a lot, as there aren’t a lot of huge acts taking their place.
3. Causation? Again from the article: “Five years ago, the Great Recession kicked in and crushed the concert business, discouraging cash-strapped fans from buying tickets to overpriced shows. As a result, tours from Rihanna to Lilith Fair had to cancel dates or give away piles of free tickets to fill seats.” The key word in that paragraph is “overpriced.” Blaming the Recession solely for the concert business downturn is a bit unfair; while it absolutely had a part, perhaps inflated ticket costs also played a part. Plus—at least in the case of Lilith Fair—it was traveling in a far different climate than the late ’90s. Weekday attendees would’ve had to take time off work to go to these shows—and they were no longer kids with free time, but adults with day jobs. (At the show I attended, things definitely filled in the later it got in the night.) I think Sarah McLachlan overestimated her ability to draw as well.
4. Shifting trends. This article only touched on it, but things that used to be big draws—rock bands—are no longer a guaranteed seat-filler. Country has absolutely become a tour de force in terms of the summer concert season, seemingly immune to the overtouring problem noted in #1. Livenation has also done smart marketing things such as the MegaTicket to entice fans to buy early, which helps. The company knows well who is buying tickets to these shows, and targets them; I’m not so sure the rock audience is as well-defined (or has as much disposable income) as in the past.
5. Warped Tour. Warped continues to be a huge draw—in huge sheds. I feel like it’s almost taken for granted now. But I think its ability to survive (and thrive) is a testament to the enduring power of younger ticket buyers.
1. Quality. Last night’s show, while long, was of much higher quality than others I’ve been to/seen. I don’t think it was a coincidence, and I think it was because all of the performers are still active, touring musicians. There were no awkward forced reunions. I imagine we’re going to see more ceremonies like this in the coming years, when more modern acts get in. Sure, the HBO broadcast factor plays into it a bit—they want to make it good TV as well as an entertaining night—but it felt far less fusty than in past years.
2. Jett. Wondering if Joan Jett’s presence might mean she/the Runaways might finally get into the Hall. Not that they need the validation to be considered an influence—but it would be nice to see them get the respect they deserve. Jett too is still an incredibly vibrant artist making energized music. And her with the members of Nirvana was great—so delightfully subversive.
3. Women were the performing stars of the night. Not usually something you associate with the Rock Hall, no. The Nirvana tribute was inspiring. (More on that below.) The Linda Ronstadt tribute, on the whole, was really lovely, and showcased the depth of her songwriting. (In fact, she had five of her songs played—more than any other artist honored.) Carrie Underwood really impressed, and Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt were understated and gorgeous. And Stevie Nicks had the line of the night, about the song “Different Drum”:
"I heard that Linda Ronstadt song and thought, ‘That’s what I want to do! I don’t look that good in cutoffs, but I’m doing it!’"
4. That Nirvana thing. This could’ve been a mess, let’s be honest. Or cheeseball city. And it wasn’t. (The after-party was pretty great, too, it seemed like.) It felt like a celebration of Nirvana’s music and legacy, a bunch of pals playing some tunes for old time’s sake. After weeks of mourning Kurt Cobain’s death, it felt like a relief to hear the music sound so alive.
A close friend of mine works for a tech startup. She is an intensely creative and intelligent person who falls on the risk-taker side of the spectrum. Though her company initially hired her for her problem-solving skills, she is regularly unable to fix actual problems because nobody will listen to her ideas. “I even say, ‘I’ll do the work. Just give me the go ahead and I’ll do it myself,’ ” she says. “But they won’t, and so the system stays less efficient.”