The Big Hurt: Rock in a hard place

The economy makes music its bitch
By DAVID THORPE  |  May 18, 2009

Fear not, broke American: the music industry feels your pain. Record sales are abysmal, and fortunes are dwindling; one report claims that ELTON JOHN and PAUL MCCARTNEY have lost close to $100 million each. Some musicians are going to bizarre lengths to make up the difference: the singer from UB40 recently quit the group in a huff after his management proposed using band funds to finance a real-estate scheme, and — well, wait till you hear the shit about AEROSMITH. But amid all this ruin, the industry still gives back.

Topical-comedy band STAIND bring us yuks aplenty with their new "Stimulate This!" tour, which not only rolls out a barrel of titters through a heretofore unsuspected erotic connotation of the word "stimulate" but also offers cheap rock thrills to downtrodden fans. "Wall Street got its bailout," quips thumblike Staind jokester Aaron Lewis. "Now it's time for rock fans to get theirs." In addition to a budget line-up of store-brand acts like CHEVELLE and SHINEDOWN, the tour will offer tickets that double as coupons for discounted concessions.

As we know, it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a poor man to enter the kingdom of arena-buttrock comeback extravaganzas. But resurgent Christ-rockers CREED hope to prove otherwise. Says the booking agent for their upcoming tour, "We're trying to be very careful about the pricing. We recognize the economy and the things that are going on right now, and the fact that some of Creed's audience is a blue-collar demographic, so we have to be sensitive to that."

In a bit of direct blue-collar protest, EMINEM is flying 200 laid-off autoworkers to a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live to publicize their woes. Let's hope the blistering nationwide Jimmy Kimmel spotlight can shine some much-needed illumination on Detroit's plight.

In other Detroit news, a prodigal KID ROCK returns this summer with a huge two-day concert event, complete with a chili cook-off and an auto show. You might contend that this story is unrelated to my topic, but there's about a 99 percent chance that Kid Rock will open the proceedings with something like, "I know a lot of you are going through some tough times right now, people losing their jobs, having trouble making ends meet. But today, ladies and gentlemen . . . we're going to rock the fuck out, Detroit!" And then the band will launch into "Bawitdaba." I'd even put it somewhere near 85 percent that he'll say those exact words — I used to be a speechwriter for Kid Rock, so I know how to get into his head.

AEROSMITH, an enterprise with a long history of economic self-stimulus, are hoping to make a few fans rich and themselves much, much richer. They've teamed with a company called GTECH to produce a series of Aerosmith-branded lotto games. It's a shrewd move by a band who've never been afraid to look like pitiful, bottom-feeding sellouts. And check this quote from a GTECH exec: "You could probably count on one hand the number of bands that would be both palatable in government-sponsored gaming and recognizable to a broad demographic. That's why we got very excited about Aerosmith." Hell yeah! Rock on! Sex, drugs, and palatability in government-sponsored gaming!

The old maxim says that the lottery is a tax on people who suck at math, but Aerosmith lotto could broaden this base to include those with shitty taste, and that's an appealing principle. (Unless the IRS audits my MP3 collection — those Amy Grant songs were for research, I swear!)

Related: Fans cheer; earth weeps, Photos: Radiohead in Boston, The Big Hurt: Confessions of a band namer, More more >
  Topics: Big Hurt , Celebrity News, Entertainment, Aaron Lewis,  More more >
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