🔗 What Chafes My Groin #5


First published: .

Rock & Roll Died in the '90s

By the time I started traveling to the US in 2010 and going to many music concerts, many of my favorite bands were already past their '90s prime, and I was worried that I will still never get to enjoy my most beloved songs in a live setting. But I didn't know how music festivals—which is what I mostly attended abroad—worked. When a band/musician gets booked to play live in a normal concert, they usually have the freedom to play whatever they want. If they only want to play songs from their 12th album nobody ever listened to, they can. Festivals, however, pay very well, and organizers want the crowd to get what it wants, so bands are signed on contracts that detail exactly which songs to play, sometimes even in which order, so festivals are often where bands showcase their greatest hits, rather than their recent material.

Festival contracts are often even stricter than that, featuring clauses that forbid the bands from playing shows at the same city/county the festival takes place in for several months before or after the festival, or forbidding the bands from playing specific songs in shows that take place close to the festival's date.

For years, I enjoyed that fact very much. I got to see almost all my favorite bands playing almost all of my favorite songs. But eventually, it started to get old, and I realized these festivals were stuck in the '90s. The only way for you to hear songs that were written in the 21st century was to see the newer, less established bands that are featured on the smaller stages at the fringes of the festival grounds. The major bands featured on the main stages will never play a single song written after 1999. In Slam Dunk Festival in the UK earlier this year, a DJ was also playing an assortment of songs between live sets, and they were all from the '90s too.

I realized that there are many, many fantastic albums I really love that were released in the 21st century, but the bands never play them live. This has started to creep into normal concerts, too. Elton John, who recently retired from live shows, hasn't played a recent song in years, because that's not what the crowd wants to hear. When Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds plays a live show, nobody gives a fuck about their material and just waits for them to start playing Oasis songs from the '90s, which they do. The problems with attempting to please the crowds like this is that it's hard for the musicians to maintain the same level of passion to the material that they had when they wrote it. Literally decades had passed, and sometimes you can really tell that the bands just really want to get their shows over with as quickly as possible.

Some musicians handle these demands for playing old material in different ways. Bob Dylan does play all his greatest hits, but he plays them in such different arrangements that nobody even recognizes them. Others completely resist playing their greatest hits, often resulting in public outrage. When Morrissey played none of the Smiths songs in his latest concert in Israel, the complaints lasted for weeks afterwards.

It's no secret that Rock & Roll passed its heyday years ago, when people moved on to computer generated music and reality TV approved freak shows. And with the rise of the Internet and streaming services, physical music suffered an incredible blow, to the point where it's harder to put out a record than it was many decades ago. Bands are also much less prolific these days. It's common for bands to go a full decade between albums. Look at the release frequencies of the greatest bands of the previous century, they often released two or more albums in one year.

Good rock music is still being made, and it's encouraging to see many young fans in rock shows and festivals, but these fans are being encouraged to stick to the past and ignore the present, and bands are encouraged to stop recording new music. It's all 25-year anniversary tours and reboots and remakes, not unlike the movie industry. How long can this go on, before all we have left are Instagram-level musicians playing dramatic covers of love songs from the '70s and talking in broken voices about how their fathers left them and how their mothers are their biggest influences because they raised them all on their own and overcame so much adversity?

Ticketmaster, Ugh

By now, everybody is aware of the evil that is Live Nation/Ticketmaster, but so long as we're giving them our hard-earned money for the privilege of almost suffocating to death in oversold, overpriced concerts of mediocre quality, they have no incentive to change.

One particularly annoying facet of their awfulness are their website and mobile apps. You know, the website that always refuses to believe that you are actually a human and badgers you with endless CAPTCHAs, or downright refuses to work because "your IP has been blocked" for some reason, or that won't accept your credit card because today they're only accepting Tazmanian credit cards. And their app that won't let you install it because you live in a country that isn't the US, even though you're in the US right then and there and have a ticket for a show that evening.

Like many ticket providers, Ticketmaster has moved from printed tickets to digital tickets, a very reasonable move considering people no longer have printers, mail is slow, and smartphones are pervasive. But whereas many providers simply send you a pdf with a barcode, Ticketmaster's tickets are only available on their website or smartphone app. And if there's one thing I love about those things, it's how they stop working in the most critical moments. Sometimes, the site will correctly display your ticket barcode months before the show, and up to several hours before it, but then the barcode will suddenly turn invisible right when you're in line to get in, and you have to step out of the line and go to the box office to get good old fashioned print tickets. Other times, two days before a show you've flown all the way from Israel to the United States just to see, the website will suddenly say that your ticket was "cancelled because it is linked to another Apple ID", and give you a god damn heart attack. But not to worry, their friendly customer support will tell you as nicely as they possibly can that they have no idea what's wrong and how to help you, and will recommend that you remove everything, format all your computers, put your mother in a home, and try again.

God I hate them and how events with 60,000 tickets are sold out within the first minute of their sale going live. Of course it's sold out, Ticketmaster, of course it is, it's not that you're scalping your own tickets, no way, I refuse to believe it, you're a virtuous company giving the public fantastic musical experiences; events being sold out one second after the sale goes live, becoming immediately available on your own inflated secondary market, and then suddenly becoming available again at original retail price two days before the show, is not suspicious at all Ticketmaster, not suspicious at all.

Secret Destroyers

Just three months ago I was visiting Northumberland National Park in England, hiking alongside Hadrian's Wall, in a trail that reaches—among other attractions—the Sycamore Gap Tree, also known as the Robin Hood Tree. This tree was several hundred years old, and its location right at a dip in the hilly landscape created a very striking scene. It was featured in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which resulted in its latter nickname.

The tree was one of the park's best known attractions, and it survived through many of humanity's phases. It didn't survive humanity's social-media phase, the phase where we're all self-centered assholes who think everyone owes us something and have pretty much lost our fucking minds completely. Some asshole—or assholes—decided to come late at night and cut it down a few nights ago, just to screw with people. I know it was "just a tree" and all, but this is one of the worst cases of entitlement I have ever seen.

The Sycamore Gap Tree as pictured by me, June 5, 2023.

God, I can't fucking wait for the rapture.

Check Out These Links, or Don't

  1. I recently updated my Water for Beer Brewing in Israel article to bring it up-to-date with the current mineral content of my recommended water (Aqua Nova). Long story short, I still recommend it.
  2. The last time I complained about jock itch, I recommended a video from the Critical Drinker channel on YouTube, about why modern movies suck. I was unaware it was part of a whole series of videos on the subject, and I highly recommend you watch these videos. His breakdown and analysis of the problems with modern movies are presented in a very eloquent manner, and his insights are eye opening.

That's it, there was nothing good on the Internet this week.