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Like Fan Like Band: How Fanbase Can Affect Artist Reputation

How many times have you written off a band or an artist because of their fans? I’m sure many of us are either unwilling to admit it or simply have not realized this subconscious process of ruling out, but it happens all the time.

Regardless of the quality of the music, it is very easy for potential new listeners to be deterred because of the reputation created by a band’s fanbase. For example, what comes to mind when I mention the name Slipknot? For many of you—especially those who are not very familiar with them—my guess is that you thought of the types of people you might associate with that band; mean, dumb, meathead psychos (Sorry, Maggots. No offense!). However, while this may be true for some of their fans, this doesn’t mean you should curse the band all together. The problem is that too many people apply this stigma to the band, assuming the music is unsophisticated, dumb, mindless, or perhaps untalented. However, those who are familiar with and open to the idea of Slipknot, fan or not, know that they are a very hardworking group of extremely talented musicians. It might not be your cup of tea, but at least give them that.

Okay, so maybe the guys in Slipknot bring it upon themselves with their terrifying masks and generally offensive demeanor, but how about Tool? They have a similar demographic as Slipknot, but many listeners might find their sound to be a little “easier to swallow.” However, they often get lumped in with the same sort of crowd that makes outsiders assume the music is terrible, while in fact, tool has written some of the most interesting, progressive, and influential songs in nu metal.

Too often do people overlook a band just because of the fanbase they seem to attract. Of course, that’s not totally unreasonable. If you do not like or do not relate to a certain type of person, and that type of person likes a certain type of music, then by the transitive property, it seems safe to assume that you will probably dislike that type of music too. However, this isn’t always the case. We all have “guilty pleasures,” but why are they guilty? Because we’re embarrassed to admit when we like something outside of our own self-ascribed reputation? Are we that proud of our “taste?” (more…)

Dave Matthews Band Debut Four New Songs From 'Away From The World,' Announce Release Date And Tracklist

Back in February we covered how Twitter and Facebook had proved that the Dave Matthews Band and Steve Lillywhite were back in the studio for the first time since 2000’s failed Lillywhite Sessions. Five months later, Steve Lillywhite continues to engage curious fans through Twitter, and the perennial touring juggernaut that is DMB is back on the road debuting new songs from their upcoming release, which fans can expect September 11th. I got the chance to catch their two-night stand in Hartford, Conn. Also in attendance both nights was none other than super-producer Lillywhite himself. Lillywhite had been teasing fans for weeks about listening to the new album in his rental car, and even Tweeting a picture of the burned disc.

Quite the brave move, considering the leak of his last studio effort with the band nearly led to their demise, and a decade long producer/band drought. Nonetheless, Lillywhite grabbed a couple of hardcore DMB fans while leaving the Hartford shows, and invited them to his car to give the album a listen.

The DMB fan community erupted with excitement as the news started to trickle out that someone had heard the new album, and suddenly Corey Manicone was a micro-celebrity. Over the next few days he answered as many fan questions about the album as he could remember; most importantly confirming that the new songs being played on the tour up to this point were all on the album. And later confirming the fourth and final new song to be on the album as well.

Read on to watch live performances of the four new album songs debuted thus far, and check out the full tracklist.

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SoundTrax: Beachside Bonfires

In the age of the playlist, everyone has access to collections of songs hacked together due to arbitrary similarities. But what does that accomplish other than aid our forever shortening attention span, while making the idea of an album obsolete? SoundTrax is here to provide you with playlists that are more thought out, but still provide you with that instant gratification.

This week we’ve put together a soundtrack that will let you escape your daily grind, dig your toes into the sand, crack open a Corona, chat with friends and smell like a chimney for the next three days. Catchy choruses, funky rhythm sections and campy lyrics hightlight this playlist, so sit back and enjoy.

SoundTrax: Beachside Bonfires from OurStage on 8tracks.

OurStage band Bronze Radio Return kicks things off with their feel-good vibe, and when the whole band starts singing together during the hook you won’t be able to resist. Dispatch picks up where Bronze Radio Return leaves off and pushes the tempo just a bit, before The Kooks rattle our nerves with an infectious hook and incredible arrangement. Mumford & Sons are the epitome of campy, sing-a-long rock-n-roll, so how could we not include them in the power slot of this soundtrack? Get Back Loretta and Ivory Drive have totally different styles, but both manage to infuse a sense of funk and a breath of life into the second half of this playlist, sandwiching indie-dance-rockers Foster the People. Finally, Dave Matthews Band closes us out with a summer classic from ’96.

SoundTrax: Silently Sleeping

In the age of the playlist, everyone has access to collections of songs hacked together due to arbitrary similarities. But what does that accomplish other than aid our forever shortening attention span, while making the idea of an album obsolete? SoundTrax is here to provide you with playlists that are more thought out, but still provide you with that instant gratification.

As much as we love music’s belters and crooners, I often feel that not nearly enough attention is given to instrumental pieces, at least in the mainstream industry. In the classical world, instrumental music is viewed as the highest art form there is. But this playlist focuses on instrumental music for an entirely different reason; sleep. I find it increasingly difficult to fall asleep to music with vocals, especially if I happen to know the lyrics. My mind latches on to certain words, and even when I try to concentrate on sleeping, I inadvertently find myself humming the hook a few minutes later. So, for this weeks edition of SoundTrax, we’ve picked eight instrumental tracks that will help slow your breathing, calm your heart rate and shut your eyes. Don’t let the bed bugs bite, kids.

SoundTrax: Silently Sleeping from OurStage on 8tracks.

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Thursday, February 16th, 2012

DMB and Steve Lillywhite: Together Again? Twitter Thinks So

UPDATE BELOW

For over a decade, Dave Matthews Band fans have been begging for the return of legendary producer Steve Lillywhite. After the fallout between him and the band in the early 2000s, which resulted in the infamous Lillywhite Sessions, there seemed to be little hope, as both the band and Lillywhite had confirmed that the last studio sessions nearly broke up DMB. But nonetheless, rabid fans constantly generated rumors that Lillywhite was back every time the band would return to the studio.

Well this time, it seems like the rumor mill may be on to something¦

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LCD Soundsystem And The Bands We Hope Never Stop Touring

LCD Soundsystem announced their last show of their final tour a few weeks ago, as though you hadn’t already heard. On April 2nd, the band will grace the stage at Madison Square Garden for their sold out farewell show, capping off a valediction of both shocking and well deserved amounts of hype. They will play their swan song, they will leave the stage and that will be the end of one of the great dance-punk bands of our generation. We’re still bummed that we couldn’t get tickets to that show, or to any of  the ever increasing number of gigs leading up to the MSG date (Side note: kudos to James Murphy for blasting the scalpers! Seriously, that guy is a class act).

But that’s beside the point. It got us thinking, LCD Soundsystem made a big deal out of this being their farewell tour but they hadn’t really earned their bonafides a live band du jour, as a touring entity, up until that point. Unlike LCD, there are some bands that have always made a big deal out of their live show, that seem to exist only to tour. Not that that’s a bad thing. Let’s take a look at some of the artists we hope never stop touring:

Bob Dylan

A rolling stone gathers no moss, and even though Dylan is old enough to have moss grow on him, there’s no stopping this man’s touring regimen. His tour schedule since June of 1988 has been dubbed the “Never Ending Tour“; this globe-trotting tour has Dylan performing around 100 days out of the year, and he’s kept up this pace in spite of the fact that he’s almost a septuagenarian. You’d think the man might want a break or a nap or something after so many years. Still, he’s already got April dates lined up in Australia. We should count ourselves lucky that we’ve heard so much from him, and we’ll probably be hearing more from Bob in years to come.

Reel Big Fish

These ska-punk workhorses have been at it longer than most of their ilk from the mid ’90s. You could’ve gone to see them at some festival in middle school, you caught them in the club when they headlined in high school and you went to their show again in college when you were feeling a wee bit nostalgic. They just wrapped up a tour with fellow goof-punk road warriors The Aquabats in January. So what do they have on their plate for the upcoming year? A European tour, you say? Suprise suprise.

Phish

This spot could have easily gone to Dave Matthews Band if they weren’t planning on taking 2011 off, kinda. And sure, some may cry foul as there was a long stretch when Phish didn’t tour, but we won’t count periods of band hiatuses/ breakups.

Phish’s reputation as a band is based off of their live show. Not only in how technically good it is or how “communal” (read: chemically altered) the atmosphere at one of their gigs is but also in how Phish fosters the live experience with their fans. For those who don’t follow the band, Phish’s fandom is reminiscent of the Grateful Dead’s and a lot of other prominent jam bands of yore. And a big aspect of that culture is bootlegging. I won’t go into the number of Phish phan phorums (I’m sorry) on the Internet; suffice it to say, they’re numerous. The online dedication to Phish is also unique in the number of ways fans can get their hands on live material from the band. You can find high quality audio recordings from nearly every live set the band has done on their Web site and the fan bootlegs and set lists for Phish shows spanning their entire career can be found all over the web.

Frank Turner

The man has been in the solo game for about 5 years now and has taken to touring with a workmanlike approach. There’s no need to count his time in hardcore band Million Dead in his total number of shows played because his solo schedule is so impressive that it speaks for itself. Since Turner started flying solo, he’s played over 1000 shows at a rate of a little over 200 shows a year. And he’s still had time to record three LPs, a handful of EPs and demos on top of all that. I wonder if he’ll go out on the road behind his next album?

What artist would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.

Festivus: Mile High

Whether we like it or not, we’ve reached August and this year’s festival season is nearing the finish line. We’ve had some good times, like Jay Z tearing it up at Bonnaroo and chatting up HANSON at Bamboozle. No need to get sentimental too soon, though. Festival season still has a few tricks up its sleeve. This weekend marks the start of the Mile High Music Festival, a 2 day fest held in Commerce City, Colorado at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The festival announced earlier this year that instead of its usual mid-July slot, the fest would be pushed back to August 14th and 15th.

When you look at all the factors of a successful festival, moving Mile High was a smart move. The promotors at AEG referenced the hot weather of July as a reason for the reschedule. They also expressed a desire to postpone until after last weekend’s Lollapalooza in hopes of scoring some of the acts. Another interesting dynamic, the FMQB annual Triple A Conference takes place in Boulder August 11th-14th, so its possible some of the Mile High acts would play to the 2010 music summit, killing 2 birds with one stone.

Since AEG was also working with Rothbury, the cancellation of that festival opened up the talent pool for Mile High. Indeed, many big acts have packed themselves into the 2 day lineup. Both single and 2-day passes are still available, so check out Mile High’s Web site for more info.

Festivus: HullabaLOU

Last weekend was the 9th year of The Disco Biscuits self-titled Camp Bisco, a festival heavy on “trancefusion” or “livetronica” music in upstate New York. But one of the great things about musical festivals is that with every passing day a new one starts in completely different areas of the country, catering to completely different genres. This weekend we turn our attention to the world premiere of HullabaLOU, a 3 day festival with 5 stages and over 65 acts held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. As such, the target audience and lineup is a smidge different than last weekend’s consciousness-expanding Camp Bisco.

As with most things, a contributing factor for festivals is location, location, location. Think the vast mountainous hills of Bonnaroo’s home in Manchester, TN, or the sweeping deserts of Indio, CA for Coachella. So it seems only fitting in choosing a Kentucky location for a festival that the famed Churchill Downs racetrack wins out. HullabaLOU goes further back than just trying to bring a festival to the music lovers of Kentucky. The good folks behind the festival, Churchill Downs Entertainment Group, hope to launch HullabaLOU into the Kentucky Derby of music festivals. While not a traditional concert venue, Churchill Downs hosted the Rolling Stones in 2006 and the Police the next year.

While introducing anything new in this economy in the hopes to turn profit is an tricky game, HullabaLOU has a couple cards in their deck that could help ease the transition from new kid on the block to festival mainstay. Specifically, they’re forgoing a the bill chock full of indie and emerging artists for a lineup made up of tried and true headliners, including Bon Jovi, Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews Band.

But where does one get the money to host such hot headliners? Easy. Churchill Downs isn’t simply a field in the middle of no where requiring millions upon millions of dollars of stage construction, equipment, amenities and manpower to carry it all out. HullabaLOU is taking place at a previously established venue that doesn’t require outrageous construction costs. And while most festivals operate on a revenue model of general admission tickets enhanced by VIP upgrades and amenities, Churchill Downs will take advantage of the draw resulted by these headliners by making money off of a huge number of reserved seats in the existing grandstand, supplemented by general admission seats on the infield. Production expenses for HullabaLOU will continue to be mitigated due to the recent installation of lights and electrical feeds at Churchill Downs, after the grounds began hosting racing 6 nights a week this year.

HullabaLOU kicks off tomorrow (July 23rd) with a performance by local veterans Brushfire starting at 1PM on the Bluegrass stage. Friday will also feature performances from Exile, Rick Bartlett’s Rockin’ Soul Revival, Sam Bush, Gloriana, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Colbie Caillat, Train, Gladys Knight, Doobie Bothers and Bon Jovi.

Saturday features artists include Relic, Joan Osborne, John Kay & Steppenwolf, Gov’t Mule, Ben Folds, Sara Evans, Al Green, Huey Lewis and the News, Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney.

Sunday wraps things up with OurStage artists Taddy Porter, Tonic, Justin Moore, The Avett Brothers, The Black Crowes, Loretta Lynn and a trifecta of guy-named bands”Zac Brown Band, Steve Miller Band and Dave Matthews Band.

Ticket prices and admission varies, so be sure to check out all the info on their site.

Into The 'Roo: Wrappin' It Up

The last day of Bonnaroo was fairly laid back. Still drained from the unrelenting heat, we took the morning off and waited to head out in the afternoon to see Blues Traveler. We weren’t the only ones with this idea. As the band finished their set with a slow and spooky rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep,” it was clear why they still have such an impressive draw. Afterwards, we made our way across the grounds with John Fogerty in our sights, but we crossed paths with Against Me! and Regina Spektor along the way.

Punk rock has had a strange resurgence in the last year, and like the genre, Against Me! has made many adjustments in its return to the spotlight. In 2002, Tom Gable performed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, rough voice, bassist and drummer. Gabel has since graduated to electric guitars and a keyboard played by former Hold Steady member Franz Nicolay. Distraught punks could smell sell-out as Gable moved to a major label and started playing to a more “suburban” audience. But as Against Me! belted out the powerful and revolutionary lines of “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” to rebels swaying in the audience, it became apparent that “being punk” is and will always be a state of mind. (Check out OurStage’s review of the latest from Against Me!, White Crosses.)

Zac Brown

Making a drastic genre leap, we moved on to John Fogerty and Zac Brown Band. Fogerty played at 4PM on the main stage, performing all the Creedence Clearwater Revival hits a child of the ’60s and ’70s could handle. The older crowd danced and sang to “Pretty Woman” and “Down On The Corner”. Personally, I had an epiphany as Fogerty sang the lyric “Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn” from “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”. That single line summed up the entire Bonnaroo experience perfectly.

Zac Brown Band then delivered a heavy dose of country to the roots-friendly festival. Fast-paced jams and tropical country grooves borrowed from Jimmy Buffet made the set fun and festive, but ballads like “Highway 20 Ride” could have been saved for the Country Music Awards.

Dave Matthews Band had the honor of  filling the typical jam-band Sunday night closing spot. Playing material off their latest release 2009’s Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, the songs sounded like faint whispers of what the hits of DMB past were made of. Fans still danced, albeit sluggishly after the scorching weekend, but soon were reduced to sitting on blankets and swaying in the night heat. If Dave’s intention had been to present a rockin’ good time, more upbeat tracks would have been nice. But still, it was a suitable close to the festival. As Dave himself said, the set was “the cheese after the dessert. A little sparkling wine.”

And so we packed up our things and hit the road, eager to tend to our sunburns and tired ears. And while we’re sad its all over, next year no doubt holds all new spectacles for us. After all its Bonnaroo’s 10th anniversary…