Pete's Blog

Live Earth

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I watched as much as I could of the Live Earth concerts over the weekend, not so much because I love the Pussycat Dolls as that I loved moving from Sydney to Hamburg to London with the flick of a finger. In fact, as a musical event it was often pretty depressing, with some bright spots. Boy! is today's popular music dull, rock even moreso than pop, which kind of defeats the purpose, yes? The Australian, German, and Japanese stages were dominated by faceless, letter-perfect imitations of music I never liked much in the first place, whether it was swaggering '70s boogie-bands (that's what we called them then, anyway) or mopey '90s post-punks. And Madonna can play guitar! I'll alert the media. Metallica was as strong as ever, although they're getting awfully old. Still, I'm grateful James Hetfield doesn't dye his hair - there's a whole wing at Clairol named for the Rolling Stones. And Smashing Pumpkins played a strong set. Jon Pareles in the NY Times said they were the only "impolite" band of the day and that seems about right. I was curious to see AFI, the East Bay hardcore band my children both liked until they signed a major-label deal. And I was struck by the change: tempos are much slower, the songs have melodies and you can hear the words. Ordinarily that's a good thing, but when Cynthia took me to see them at the Stone Pony it had a tribal ferocity that meant something this big-ticket appearance did not. So I was a little bummed, despite the highpoints (the Police were good, but I can play better guitar solos than that guy, and hey! Fergie can really sing) but then I went to the Conor Byrne open-mike last night in Seattle and the mix tape they played beforehand featured one good young band after another, mixing and abstracting, a little Captain Beefheart, a little Kinks. I don't know who any of them were, but the underground lives.

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