The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Rock Star

This just in from the Rock & Roll Is Still Dead Department: we here at LowBallAssChatter know people (using the term loosely, of course), and they know people, and those people know yet more people, and that's why some swingin' rocker chicks we know—they'll remain nameless for everyone's sake—gave us the exclusive insider dish on how bad it sucks to be a rock star these days. Or at least how bad it sucks to be on the Family Values Tour. At the recent Stone Temple Pilots/Linkin Park/Staind show at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim (with–ohmygosh–members of Lit reportedly scouring deli tables for free nosh), all they wanted was, says one swingin' rocker chick, "for Stone Temple Pilots to fall out of rehab and do lines off my tits!" But instead? They sat around backstage (FYI: a locker room smelling powerfully of hockey glove), their tits having nothing done off them at all, talking to anyone who would listen about starting a Journey tribute—"Not cover, tribute!"—band and eventually wandering over to sample the decadent rock star refreshments consisting mostly of—wait for it—pretzel rods and Coors Light. "Coors fucking Light," our sources declaimed in disgust! That's the kind of hideous piss beer you drink when you finish swilling paint thinner—hell, it's what you drink when you finish swilling the paint! And that's what rock stars get these days!? What happened to the big bowl of hand-sorted green M&Ms? What happened to the tit-ready lines of coke? What happened, we weep, to rock & roll? And worse, if all the Family Values Tour—generously funded by legions of surly mullet-sporting 12-year-olds and/or their bemulleted parents—can ply its talent (using that term even more loosely) with is Coors Light, what do lesser bands possibly get? Frosty mugs of urine (or in Lit's case, Jgermeister)? Mercifully, the Backstage Express stopped early when some fat guy—"He was fat, he was a dude, and he was hateful. You could see it!"—waddled over, asked them who said they could drink Linkin Park's personal Coors Light ("Uh, it was the guys from Lit?" our poor little swingin' rocker chicks peeped), and summarily showed them to the door. Fine with them; they had better beer waiting in their swingin' rocker-chick van. But they were still a little sad: "I thought there would be lots of sluts and free cocaine backstage," they lamented. And instead? "Just really good pretzel rods." (Chris Ziegler)

U2 SPEWIt was less than a week before the U2/No Doubt show at LA's Staples Center, and we still hadn't decided whether to use our awesome rock-critic powers to finagle free tickets. We eventually caved, figuring something worthy of LowBallAssChatter reportage was bound to happen—something deeper than Gwen's new hair color (back to blond!) or Adrian's glittery new jock strap. And we were right, though we didn't come away with much to say about No Doubt's set, which was 45 minutes of, well, typically bubbly No Doubt music, as weirdly out-of-place at a U2 show as it figured to be when this bill was first announced. The band's catalog of boy-vs.-girl songs just don't weigh nearly as much as U2's socio-political-cum-spiritual anthems, which meant that the two camps had to meet each other halfway at some point—otherwise, it would look like the record label they share put the whole package together. That moment came during U2's time, when Bono brought Gwen out to duet with him on Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," which we know they worked on together as part of a charity single and all, but honestly—cynical us—all we could dwell on was how this classic soul ballad has been turned into a jingle for Radio Shack. An even more depressing moment popped up later in the night during "Sunday Bloody Sunday," when some lout—an audience plant, we hear—handed Bono an American flag instead of the customary Irish one. He took the colors, embraced them tightly, and told us that he's felt differently about the Stars and Stripes since Sept. 11. Okay. But later, he removed his jacket and showed everybody that the inner lining was also made up of a U.S. flag, which told us that Bono sees cherished American symbols as gratuitous fashion statements as well—he might as well have been one of those Newport Beach housewives wearing jewel-studded $1,000 American flag pins on the lapels of her mauve blazer in the guise of showing "support." Er, this was the same guy who once so famously said, "There is only one flag—the white flag of freedom?" Flag-waving sure hasn't gotten Northern Ireland anywhere, which is partly why you won't see any nation's colors jutting out the window crack of the official LowBallAssChatter SUV. While we're in a bitchy mood, we'll also complain about how the names of assorted Sept. 11 victims scrolled past on video screens during "One." Wouldn't we better show our unity without segregating names by such categories as "NYPD" and "FDNY?" At the risk of getting shot at while unlocking the door to our apartment or seeing the fire engines pull up after our home has been burned blacker than an Angus' butt on a moonless prairie night, we're just asking. On a completely different note, the price listed on our ticket was a whopping $134.55; on the back of the ticket was a coupon for a free small order of McDonald's french fries, which costs about 80 cents. If people can afford to spend well more than a hundred smackers on a concert ticket, are these same people really so cheap that they'd actually care about saving a lousy few coins? Perhaps they could instead donate them to the throng of homeless who were begging for change outside of Staples after the show. (Rich Kane)
BRAIN SALAD SURGERY When Aaron Copland's name popped up in the "historic birthday" section of The Orange County Register last week (he would have been celebrating for the 101st time, if he hadn't gone and died in 1990), we recalled the great American composer's visit to Cal State Fullerton in 1975. Copland's hair was thin and white, and his legend was secure and golden, but during the three days he spent on campus, he was the walkin', talkin' embodiment of "Fanfare for the Common Man." He conducted the university symphony, counseled the music majors, and coffee'd with the administrators and fund-raisers. Copland also made sure he swung through every Music 101 class, where he unassumingly delivered his priceless summary of the meaning and value of music-with-a-capital-M. But those lecture halls were filled with easy-A-seeking undergrads who were coming of age in the mid-'70s—the peak era of prog. rock. One afternoon, when Copland finished his talk with a few minutes to spare and graciously offered to entertain four or five questions from the students, every one was a variation on the theme, "What do you think about Emerson, Lake and Palmer?" Copland just smiled and said he liked Emerson, Lake and Palmer. He said he liked them just fine. (Dave Wielenga)


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