RSSTunes & Tix By Tim Shellberg
Shellberg's weekly column about musicians, concerts and tickets on sale around Chicagoland.
All concerts listed below are all ages unless otherwise noted. Some of the ticket prices below do not include taxes and fees.
THE VENUE AT HORSESHOE CASINO
Aaron Lewis, 8pm Feb 22. $31-$61.50 (21 and older)
Comparing Guns N’ Roses figurehead Axl Rose to My Bloody Valentine mastermind Kevin Shields may be blasphemous to many – especially fans of the latter – but there are surely similarities between the two.
In the late '80s and early '90s, both Rose and Shields propelled their respective bands to great critical acclaim and, in the case of Rose and Roses, tens of millions of record sales. Both released landmark sets in 1991, Guns N’ Roses with the ambitious two “Use Your Illusion” albums and My Bloody Valentine with the timeless “Loveless,” before going M.I.A. in terms of a proper follow-up.
It took Rose until 2008 – and years of mystery, speculation and undelivered promises - to release the long-awaited “Chinese Democracy,” which hindsight has shown to be a hard rock “Heaven’s Gate.” A similar amount of anxious waiting and speculation shrouded Shields’ and Co. between “Loveless” and the release of this year’s “m.b.v.,” but, in the two decades-plus between the sets, both band and “Loveless” have become iconic with past and present generations of music fans, while Guns and their “Illusions” are time-stamped in their era and, in many circles, deemed relics.
Over the course of the last several years, the New York Times bestseller list has regularly read more like Billboard’s album charts, circa 1975.
Around this time each year, bookstore shelves and kindles see tell-alls by rock royalty from Eric Clapton to Keith Richards to Neil Young to Pete Townshend fly off shelves and downloaded en masse. As with much in the rock world, the origins to the recent rock-autobio trend can be traced to Bob Dylan’s 2004 tome “Chronicles, Vol. 1,” and, like his successors in the rock world, none have matched, in terms of quality, as the Bard’s trendsetting tome.
Last fall saw Rod Stewart throw his hat in the self-sanctioned tell-all ring with “Rod: The Autobiography.” In terms of new revelations, “Rod,” like Townshend, Young and Richards’ books, is sorely lacking and, in many cases, simply reiterating stories that have already been documented in past, “unauthorized” documentaries and selling them off as the rocker/writer’s own.
“History of The Eagles,” a three-hour documentary on the long-beloved classic country rock band, is both the best and worst music documentary released this year.
A three-hour behemoth, which premiered on Showtime in February before becoming available for purchase digitally and on disc, is extremely thorough in its examination of the band’s history, reign in the '70s, split in the '80s, and return to action in the mid `90s through present day. The archival footage is stellar – it can be argued the brains behind the docu took a cue from Rush’s incredible “Beyond the Lighted Stage” from a few years back – and, when focusing on the music, they leave nary a stone unturned, which has likely resulted in repeated viewing for many an Eaglist.
For more critical viewers, “History” can be seen as the “Don Henley and Glenn Frey Show,” with past and present members and allies in supporting roles appearing solely to extol the founding members’ virtues and with only seconds of screen time allotted to contradict the duo. For TV hate-watchers, “History” is small-screen gold.
If no one has yet to opine that, in the event of an apocalypse, cockroaches and “Weird Al” Yankovic would pull through, I’m throwing that one out there now.
Up until 1979, when Yankovic first graced the airwaves with “My Bologna ( his spin on the Knack smash “My Sharona”),” the phrases “song parody” and “long-term career” rarely shared sentence space. Parodies of popular songs were – and pretty much still remain, save for Yankovic – novelties, appreciated when first heard, old news the second time around and annoying from the third time on out.
Yankovic, however, took the ball and ran with it, first with likeminded humorists/parodists and their audience on the nationally syndicated “Dr. Demento” radio show, then crossing over to the mainstream with “Another One Rides The Bus (his “Another one Bites The Dust”)” and “I Love Rocky Road (his answer to Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock n’ Roll”).” He became a household name a little after MTV did, which put Michael Jackson parodies “Eat It” and “Fat” on regular rotation throughout the '80s.
Ever want to upset a musical artist straying outside of the entity he or she is best known for? Call that endeavor a “side project.”
A dozen or so years ago, I was interviewing a member of a now-defunct, critically acclaimed and still influential Northwest-based indie trio and accidentally described an endeavor outside of the outfit from which she rose to national prominence as a “side project.” The end result was a snarky remark on her part and no small amount of backpedaling to save the interview from an abrupt end on my part.
While I’ll take the artists argument (as well as those of their most ardent fans) that they put their heart and soul into any endeavor regardless of its popularity or its similarities and/or differences from their most popular works, a side project is, to the masses, a side project.
While separated by a massive body of water and varying stylistically, North Mississippi Allstars and Stereophonics, at critical junctures in their still-evolving careers, made past musical benchmarks sound like the next big thing.
North Mississippi co-founders, brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, have been blessed with stellar musical genetics; their father is the late, great Jim Dickinson, who tickled the ivories for the likes of the Rolling Stones and helmed the boards for the varied likes of Big Star, the Replacements and Mudhoney, yet the Dickinson siblings forte has, and remains, lo-fi, homegrown blues rock reminiscent of their namesake state.
Their debut, Y2K’s “Shake Hands With Shorty,” was an out-of-the-box classic when it was released and remains one of blues/rock’s finest debuts more than a dozen years later. Individually or collectively, the Dickinsons lend their talents regularly to the likes of the Black Crowes and John Hiatt, they are arguably at their best working side-by-side as the all-stars they surely are. For proof, check out “World Boogie Is Coming,” their most recent set released earlier this month.
For better or for worse, Ke$ha has managed to stand out amongst her pop peers at a time where they are manufactured, marketed and managed to where pretty much anything unique has been rung out.
While there’s certainly no shortage in terms of personality – everyone from Lady Gaga to Katy Perry to Kelly Clarkson have carved out recognizable identities for themselves along with their music – Ke$ha has gone steps beyond her pop peers in terms of grabbing large-fonted headlines for outrageous interviews detailing her extracurricular activities.
In fact, it’s safe to say the music is taking a backseat with many a music fan and pop culture reader.
The Ramones have become trendy with the last few young generations of punk appreciators.
Call it hindsight on listeners’ parts or shrewd marketing on behalf of the estates of the founding band members – both points can be argued successfully, by the way – images, symbolism and, most importantly, the music of the East Coast punk pioneers has reached the masses in a greater way in the 15-plus years since the band called it a day than they did when they were active. Heck: two years ago, the band was a recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
If you want to spot a true punk aficionado whose fandom can’t be traced to marketing or posthumous mainstream acceptance, look for a shirt featuring four thick jagged bars, which is the logo synonymous with Cali punk architects Black Flag, whose late '70s/early and mid '80s catalog remains the stuff of legend nearly three decades after they called it a day.
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