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The Fast and the Furious

Getting spins on MySpace isn’t a competition, but if it were, NEEDMORE would be wiping the floor with the majority of us. With 8.5 million plays through their profile and placements in television and film, exposure isn’t an issue for this L.A.-based band. Their traction is easily attributed to their sound: sleek, impeccably produced, epic as hell. Lost My Way begins with gorgeous ribbons of violin that give way to ebbing guitars and the soft crush of drums. It’s highly visceral, emotional stuff. Same goes for Late Night Drive, a perfectly arranged ballad of glimmering piano, edgy guitar scribbles and a soaring, stratospheric chorus. The sinister swerve of Go with its ricochet guitars and driving percussion is raring for a cinematic car chase. Don’t take our word for it”watch this Lincoln MKS commercial and tell us you don’t want to go for a spin with these guys.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

OK Go releases Last Leaf video

If you read this column with any regularity, you know that if OK Go releases a video, it’s likely to show up here. Today we present you with Last Leaf, wherein a few slices of toast provide the backdrop for a poignant, stop-motion vignette. We still can’t tell if the animation is etched onto the toast itself, or projected. Either way, it’s a bread-winner. Hope you like.

Best duets this week”Conan and Jack or Rihanna and Jon?

Does the joy on Jon Bon Jovi’s face when a culturally relevant (and minxy) pop star joins him onstage do it for you? Or is it seeing Conan O’Brien wield an axe and do his best rockabilly snarl? You don’t have to answer yet”watch the clips below and then decide who wins the week’s best duet.

The Bad

NKTOBSB co-headlining tour

Muffle your squeals, 30-year-olds! New Kids On The Block and The Backstreet Boys have joined forces FOR THE OLD-ENOUGH-TO-BE-YOUR-DAD TOUR*. Stop thinking about your mortgages and toddlers and rediscover the glory of A.J. McLean’s goatee!

*Not the real tour name, but it should be.

Keith Richards attacks Swedish journalist

Strangely enough, it seems a lifetime of soaking your liver in Jack Daniels doesn’t mellow you out. Keith Richards found this out when confronted with a reporter who had negatively reviewed a Rolling Stones concert in 2007, calling the band amateurs. Richards hoisted himself off his rocker* and demanded the reporter, Markus Larsson of the Swedish publication Aftonbladets, apologize. When that didn’t happen, Richards proceeded to give Larsson a couple wallops about the head, hissing, You’re lucky to get out of here alive. Don’t feel bad, Markus. At his age, Richards is lucky to get out of anywhere alive.**

*not really
**snap.

The Ugly

Courtney Love shows The New York Times what class looks like

Courtney’s school of class involves getting tipsy before your interview with The New York Times, sending the reporter and photographer up to your room at the Mercer Hotel, then showing up an hour later drunk and completely naked. Read this indelible tale of elegance and refinement in its entirety here.

Miscellany

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Gordon Pinsent reads excerpts from Justin Bieber memoir

Get your LOLs right here, folks. First up, a memoir written by a 16-year-old. Ha! And, it’s entitled First Step 2 Forever.  The laughs don’t end there. Here’s a video of the esteemed actor Gordon Pinsent doing a dramatic reading of Justin Bieber’s riveting tome. Enjoy”we did.

Alicia Keys gives birth to Egypt

Not the country! That would be sooo 3150 BC. Alicia Keys and husband Swizz Beatz (born Kasseem Dean) welcomed a baby boy this week named Egypt Dauode Dean. May he grow up to become a very successful pharaoh.

The Bad

Glastonbury Festival shelved for 2012 due to toilet shortage

We wouldn’t wish more port-a-potties on anyone, but this does give us pause. England’s Glastonbury Festival has been canceled for 2012 due to the Olympics taking place in London that same year ¦ and the ensuing toilet shortage. Athletes are such loo-sers.

Kanye’s album cover art banned? He wishes.

Kanye West is a legend in his own mind. But he may also be a victim in his own mind as well. The rapper griped on his Twitter page that Wal-mart had censored the cover art for his upcoming album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Tweeted the rapper: So Nirvana can have a naked human being on they [sic] cover but I can’t have a PAINTING of a monster with no arms and a polka dot tail and wings. Oh the injustice! Is it too much to ask for a man to be left in peace with his armless polka dot monster? IS SOCIETY SO INTOLERANT”what’s that? Wal-mart didn’t censor the cover? Oh. Uh, never mind. As you were.

The Ugly

Cantankerous singer pegs bottle at Mumford and Sons

Mark E. Smith of the band The Falls was getting ready for his set at a Dublin music festival when a terrible caterwauling struck his ears. Next door, the hugely successful English folk band, Mumford and Sons, was warming up. I just thought they were a load of retarded Irish folk singers, Smith explains. So, understandably, he threw a bottle at them to encourage them to silence their plaintive yawping. The bottle fell short of its target and Mumford and Sons went on to sell one trillion records.

Miscellany

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Ke$ha, Ciara, Jewel, Jake Shears and more tell bullied kids, It Gets Better

This week, several artists took to their webcams to record heartfelt messages for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project”aimed at bringing hope to bullied gay and lesbian teenagers. Ke$ha, Ciara, Jason Derülo, AJ McLean, Joel Madden and Jake Shears are just a few of the musicians who’ve posted their own messages. You can check them out here.

Hollerado go 8-bit for Americanarama video

Watch your back, OK Go. Canadian rockers Hollerado have come out with their own ambitious video choreography, and it’s pretty bitchin’. Watch them create a larger-than-life 8-bit video game with a big box, some placards and a couple well-timed sound effects.

The Bad

Weezer offered $10 million to break up

How mean-spirited and pointless can people get? Head over to www.thepoint.com and see firsthand. That’s where Weezer-hater James Burns established his fundraising campaign to come up with $10 million to offer to the band in exchange for them hanging up their guitars for good. Beard writes:

Every year, Rivers Cuomo swears that he’s changed, and that their new album is the best thing that he’s done since Pinkerton, and what happens? Another pile of crap like Beverly Hills or I’m Your Daddy. This is an abusive relationship, and it needs to stop now.

Tired of Weezer, too? Throw some virtual money over to Beard. He’s already got nearly $300! Who’s your daddy now, Cuomo?

Saudi Arabia Photoshops Mariah Carey

What to do when you’re an ultra conservative country promoting a concert for a scantily clad pop singer? You Photoshop the poster, duh. In this case, Saudi Arabia officials covered Mariah Carey’s whorish shoulders with extra cat. Problem solved.

The Ugly

Lil’ Wayne gets solitary confinement

Lil wayne

Most inmates get solitary confinement when they try to shank somebody. Lil’ Wayne got his for having headphones and an MP3 player charger. We’re no criminals, but seems like that would make a really ineffective shiv.

Miscellany

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees announced

Champagne’s a flowin’ at the homes of Bon Jovi, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, LL Cool J and Dr. John, who among others, were all nominated into the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week. The induction ceremony will take place on March 14th in Cleveland, Ohio. We would like an Alice Cooper/Neil Diamond duet please ¦ to whoever is taking requests.

Joe Jonas is ridin’ solo

Following in his little bro’s footsteps, or maybe heeding the advice of Jason Derülo, Joe Jonas announced plans to record a solo all by himself. Something with a sexier, Justin Timberlake vibe, says the Middle One. Sexier than Camp Rock? Can it be done? We’ll all find out in 2011¦

The Bad

Mariah Carey falls in Singapore

If you’re gonna fall, fall with class. Like Mariah Carey, who took a tumble in Singapore but smiled the whole way down. Then things got a little more diva-ish when Carey yelled for her assistant to come help her take her shoes off while the band kept playing Make It Happen. Check it out below.

Katy Perry avenges her Sesame Street snub

On SNL this past weekend, Katy Perry avenged her Sesame Street-banned bust by donning a low-cut Elmo t-shirt and bouncing around on a sofa. Those muppets must be seeing red!

The Ugly

MC Hammer starts beef with Jay Z

This would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Back story: On Kanye West’s song So Appalled, Jay-Z delivers a line about blowing through $30,000 like Hammer. Well, Mr. MC Hammer was none too pleased about that, and responded on Twitter by linking to a video of himself beating up a punching bag. You want my attention [Jigga] you got it. Punch, punch, punch. It’s all kind of embarrassing and feeble, but we’ll play along. Please Hammer, don’t hurt him!

Miscellany

Gregg’s New Liver Likes The Road: Allman Brothers Band Back On Tour

When it started looking like the end of the road for the liver that the notoriously hard-living Gregg Allman has had a love-hate relationship with for the last 62 years, things became pretty precarious for the Allman Brothers Band, with whom Gregg’s been hammering the keys and hollering the blues for more than 40 of those years. The ABB are, after all, probably the longest-lived rock & roll road warriors, at least since the 1995 passing of Jerry Garcia made The Dead considerably less Grateful.

The Allman Brothers Band has long understood what most artists are only just now realizing”that the only real money to be made in music comes from hardcore touring. Their annual multi-week residencies at New York’s Beacon Theatre became the stuff of legend, at least until 2010, when the venue foresaw a bigger payday from the new Cirque du Soleil show “Banana Shpeel”, throwing the veteran road dogs over for”quite literally”a bunch of clowns (for what it’s worth, the neo-vaudeville event received withering reviews).

But the biggest roadblock of all came when world-class tippler Allman”who was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2007”finally underwent a liver transplant last June. The band canceled an appearance at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival and put the kibosh on all touring plans. Nobody”including the convalescing singer”knew whether this meant the end of the journey for the Southern rock heroes, though Allman remained optimistic.

It turns out that Allman’s innards are more resilient than “Banana Shpeel”, though, and the band has now announced a return to the stage, with a short fall tour that kicks off on November 11th at the Tower Theatre in PA and ends up with a three-night stand at the Orpheum in Boston. Both the Philly and Beantown stints are already sold out, and Allman has been quoted as offering two words that say it all: I’m ready.

Tour dates:

NOVEMBER
11 – TOWER THEATRE, Upper Darby, PA – SOLD OUT!
12 – DAR CONSTITUTION HALL, Washington, DC
13 – ETESS ARENA, TRUMP TAJ MAHAL, Atlantic City, NY
15 – PALACE THEATER, Albany, NY
16 – FOXWOODS RESORT CASINO, Mashantucket, CT
18 – ORPHEUM THEATER Boston, MA – SOLD OUT!
19 – ORPHEUM THEATER Boston, MA – SOLD OUT!
20 – ORPHEUM THEATER Boston, MA – SOLD OUT!

By Jim Allen

Jim Allen has contributed to a wide range of print and online outlets including RollingStone.com, MOJO, Village Voice, Uncut, VH1.com, iTunes, All Music Guide, CMT.com, The Advocate, Prefix, Blurt and many more.

Tricks of The Trade: What Small Venues Are Doing To Bolster Ticket Sales

Like larger venues, clubs are trying to sell tickets to financially strapped fans by deploying social media, dangling discounts and free goodies and even sleeping with the enemy: neighboring rock clubs!

“Venues are forced to get creative,” said Samantha Bullock of INDIGENOUS Promotions, who works with bands LESANDS and Tape Deck Mountain and promotes The Rumble, an eight-city network of free indie-music showcases.

Clubs are pushing more value in experiences and spreading the word with technology. At The Casbah (San Diego), tweeted codewords get redeemed for discounts. The Roxy Theatre (West Hollywood) experiments with ticket incentives like posters or parking validation.

The Roxy on the Sunset Strip

“Some people thought the phone would never stop ringing, [but] the economy was a real wake-up call for the [Sunset] Strip,” said Nic Adler, who co-owns the 500-capacity Roxy Theatre. Competition from other creative enclaves added to area woes. Adler aimed to nix the club-against-club mentality and promote the region as a rock bloc. This ‘all boats rise with the tide’ philosophy encouraged the Whisky, the Cat Club and others to come along for the ride.

When @TheViperRoom arrived on Twitter, @TheRoxy tweeted its 10,000 fans to herald its nemesis, ushering in an era of Strip Solidarity. A Sunset Strip Music Festival is even held each summer to promote the scene and venues.

The Rumble crowd at Bar Pink San Diego

This year, big tours have dropped dates. Promoters tried to fill seats with $10 tickets and Coachella addressed sticker shock by offering concert goers EZ-payment plans. Clubs are brainstorming, too. Some venues are short selling unsold tickets opting to make bank from booze sales while Sunset Strip ˜Tweet Crawls’ connect the rock-spot dots. They have even directed fans to other club doors, Adler swears.

Becky Ebenkamp

Becky Ebenkamp is a Pop Cultural anthropologist and former West Coast Bureau Chief for Adweek Media. Becky has a radio show called Bubblegum & Other Delights that airs 7 to 9 p.m. PST every other Tuesday on www.killradio.org

Holiday In The Sun: All Aboard The Bruise Cruise

A funny thing happened on the way to the dive bar. Yes, the Black Lips, Vivian Girls, DJ Jonathan Toubin and others will be performing on the first-ever “Bruise Cruise Festival,” a luxury line headed from Miami to the Bahamas from February 25-28, 2011. With rockers/patrons paying $615 for an interior cabin and $665 for one with an ocean-view, the cruise is a fascinating study in indie music marketing. No doubt digital realities have lent freedom to artists seeking new channels of distribution, but they have also somewhat paradoxically devalued their creative output. Generating less income through recordings, it has become all the more important for them to monetize live performances and the Bruise Cruise can easily be understood in this context.

Organized by Michelle Cable of Panache Booking and Jonas Stein of Nashville band, Turbo Fruits, the concept is hardly revolutionary: There is a “Opry Country Classics Cruise” on Royal Caribbean, a “Gospel Music, Mexican Riviera Celebration” on Holland America, so garage rock on the Carnival Line is not a gigantic leap. Yet, unlike other musical genres, garage hasn’t historically occupied a cultural space one would readily associate with ice sculptures and elaborate floral arrangements and so the cruise suggests that the line between the alternative and mainstream is

Black Lips

growing increasingly blurry.

The 400 rockers who book tickets, as the Bruise Cruise website states, will share the ship with about 2000 regular passengers, which means that out-of-shape, Middle Americans in their fat pants will be piling fajitas and pasta salad onto their plates at the all-you-can-eat buffet next to the rockers in skinny jeans. The fest promoters seem aware of the cultural tension. On the site, next to a photo of the ship’s resort-style swimming pool they urge potential fest-goers to “Think Boogie Nights” and next to a photo of a miniature golf course to “Think Caddyshack meets Weekend At Bernie’s.” In these awkward attempts at spin, the promoters seem to be worried whether this indie experiment at sea will work out.  But is there really reason for concern?

As Rachael Maddux announced in her much-discussed cover story for Paste Magazine earlier this year, “Indie” as an artistic ideal that implied a willful operation outside the mainstream, has virtually lost all meaning. And perhaps, it could be argued, so has the idea of “mainstream.” In September, Iggy and the Stooges will be performing Raw Power at Kutsher”s Country Club in the Catskills. In October, indie institution Matador Records will celebrate its 21st anniversary with a three-day event in the mecca of kitch, Las Vegas. Hell, Arcade Fire just released an album called Suburbs about lawns, malls and the desire to settle down and have children. The world is ready for the Bruise Cruise. So, grab your PBR and head to the starboard deck. The shuffleboard tournament is about to begin.

-Josh Neuman

Joshua Neuman used to be the editor-in-chief of Heeb Magazine. He has written for Slate, eMusic and ESPN. His first book, The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2005.