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Lazarus and the Gimp
28-04-2003, 19:45:08
Christian rock band Creed's performance at a Chicago arena last December may well prove to be the most expensive gig in rock history. Not for its spectacular effects, or insane backstage demands: four fans of the band are attempting to sue them for £1.3m in damages, claiming that the band "failed to perform substantially" at the show. Lead singer Scott Stapp is alleged to have been either so drunk or so stoned that he was "unable to sing a single Creed song". Instead, he frequently left the stage, rolled around on the floor and "appeared to pass out".

On one hand, it's difficult to hear this story without smirking. Virtually unknown in Britain, Creed are superstars in America, where their bombastic, sanctimonious brand of hard rock - including a song with anti-abortion lyrics - has found much favour in the wake of September 11. Stapp is big on Messianic posturing in his videos. Really, this couldn't have happened to a more deserving band.

On the other hand, however, it sets a frankly terrifying precedent. If the lawsuit is successful, where will it lead? Every band has their off nights - will any dissatisfied fan then go rushing to court? Who will decide what constitutes a substandard show? How? And will the Vines spend the rest of their lives being hauled before a succession of judges?

The whole notion of audiences suing bands is predicated on the old cliche that the customer is always right. But in rock and pop music, that is simply not true: the customer is frequently cloth-eared and obdurate. The evidence is all around us. Cowed by tumbling sales figures and declining profits, the music industry has become so reactive to public opinion that it is having a detrimental effect upon the music it produces. In 2003, no self-respecting big label would think of launching a pop act without recourse to market research. And artists get only one shot at success. If a band's debut album fails to sell enough copies, they are almost guaranteed to lose their record deal.

If the same logic had been applied in the early 1980s, U2 would have been dropped after their disappointing second album. Rock history is filled with bands that failed to please the public during their own lifetimes, yet proved to be vastly influential. When the Velvet Underground and the Stooges performed in the late 1960s, they regularly met with horror and dismay. Pink Floyd were pelted with bottles. And nearly every punk band had to battle against incomprehending crowds in the late 1970s.

Time and again, rock audiences have proved themselves vociferously resistant to change. The dangers of post-gig litigation are obvious. Artists would take fewer risks; the lowest common denominator would always win out. Status Quo would become some sort of terrible benchmark for the way bands ought to be: workmanlike, unchanging, grimly trotting out the same variations upon the same themes as if attempting to bore everyone in earshot to death.

But perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves. One thing the Creed furore demonstrates is the vast gulf between American and British perceptions of what makes a great gig. Mainstream US rock fans tend to like their bands note-perfect. They are big on musicianship at the expense of excitement, glamour and charisma. This, after all, is a country where thousands turn up to see "jam" bands such as String Cheese Incident and the Dave Matthews Band playing technically accomplished guitar solos that seem to last for months. In Britain, even the most mainstream rock audiences prize the right attitude over the right notes.

It's worth considering Oasis's second performance at Wembley Stadium in July 2000. That was the night that a tired and emotional Liam Gallagher rasped his way tunelessly through the band's greatest hits, pausing only to favour the crowd with his rapier wit: he called an audience member a "pillock" and ended the gig pointing at himself and shouting: "I am a fucking twat! I am a fucking twat!"

It was the sort of show that would have your average American rock fan rushing to phone Claims Direct. The Wembley audience, however, seemed delighted. One critic described the show as "riveting". "When we came offstage," remembered Noel Gallagher, "everyone said, 'That was the greatest fucking gig I've ever seen.'"

Six great crowd-displeasers

The Kinks, Cardiff, 1965
Simmering tensions within the band finally exploded in front of 5,000 people. Guitarist Dave Davies turned to drummer Mick Avory and posed the immortal question: "Why don't you get your cock out and play the snare with it? It'll probably sound better." Avory responded by smashing Davies over the head with a cymbal.

Bob Dylan, Newport folk festival, 1965
Dylan performed with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, much to the fury of the assembled folkies. Booing greeted his rendition of Maggie's Farm. Rock music was changing forever before the audience's eyes, and they didn't like it. If it had been 2003, they would have contacted their lawyers.

Neil Young, Europe, 1973
Fans raised on the mellifluous strumming of Harvest were displeased by the visceral, harrowing rock Young had composed in the wake of a friend's drug overdose. "Piss off!" yelled one disgruntled Bristol fan as Young debuted songs from his greatest album, Tonight's the Night.

Jefferson Starship, Hamburg, 1978
Grace Slick's last gig as lead singer of Jefferson Starship was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Depressed and drunk, she took it upon herself to taunt the audience over their country's past in a manner that would shame Basil Fawlty: "Who won the war?" she repeatedly asked.

George Jones, Nashville, 1979
His drink and drug problems were at a peak when the country legend took the stage and announced: "My friend Deedoodle the Duck is going to take over the show, because Deedoodle can do what George Jones can't." He then sang his entire set in a Donald Duck voice. Rehab beckoned.

Oasis, Wembley, 2000
Liam Gallagher's on-stage pronouncements have always been erratic - "Put your shirt back on, Tarzan," he told a fan who flashed her breasts at a recent concert - but this was something else. "If you're to do Wembley," announced the Wittgenstein of rock, "it's best to be pissed out of your head."

From today's Guardian. Rehearse, or fear the soloicitors.

Funkodrom
28-04-2003, 19:46:30
Rehearse? :nervous:

Scabrous Birdseed
28-04-2003, 20:10:03
Originally posted by The Stupid Guardian Writer
Mainstream US rock fans tend to like their bands note-perfect. They are big on musicianship at the expense of excitement, glamour and charisma. This, after all, is a country where thousands turn up to see "jam" bands such as String Cheese Incident and the Dave Matthews Band playing technically accomplished guitar solos that seem to last for months. In Britain, even the most mainstream rock audiences prize the right attitude over the right notes.

:rolleyes:

Says the man from the country that gave us "Stairway to Heaven", "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Paranoid Android".

As opposed to the country that gave us The Kingsmen's 1964 recording of "Louie Louie", Garage, Punk and just about all the bloody rock since.

Funkodrom
28-04-2003, 20:29:57
A lot of that great rock is much bigger here than it is there though.

Debaser
28-04-2003, 20:37:10
And the guardian guy is talking about now rather than the 60s and 70s.

Scabrous Birdseed
28-04-2003, 20:46:35
That's true. Although I wouldn't claim, say, Chris Martin as the epitome of "the right attitude".

I just wanted to point out that the British invented boring music while the americans invented exciting music.

Funkodrom
28-04-2003, 20:56:39
Kiss vs Motorhead?

Scabrous Birdseed
28-04-2003, 21:00:58
Surely there was boring music before Kiss (and, er, I quite like Kiss :nervous: ) and exciting music before Motörhead.

Okay, so there's been loads of boring american music too but at least they invented Rock'n'Roll, doesn't that count for something?

Debaser
28-04-2003, 21:04:14
Originally posted by Scabrous Birdseed
I just wanted to point out that the British invented boring music while the americans invented exciting music.

Have you never heard of two rather popular American genres called Country and Western? Check your local patent office, America owns the rights to boring music.

Funkodrom
28-04-2003, 21:04:53
You like KISS? You've made my day. :lol:

Scabrous Birdseed
28-04-2003, 21:09:29
Originally posted by Debaser
Have you never heard of two rather popular American genres called Country and Western? Check your local patent office, America owns the rights to boring music.

Bad example. When it comes to emotion, energy, desolation, etc. nothing can beat country, most music is dull as dishwater by comparison.

Lazarus and the Gimp
28-04-2003, 21:43:03
Originally posted by Scabrous Birdseed
:rolleyes:

Says the man from the country that gave us "Stairway to Heaven", "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Paranoid Android".



Good examples, seeing as their most celebrated exploits were fucking groupies with sharks, mandrax hairdos and the time Thom stuck his cock in Jordan's ear. OK, I made the last one up.

TAZ
29-04-2003, 20:43:34
Thank god that last one isn't true...

Funkodrom
29-04-2003, 22:41:11
Yeah, it wasn't her ear.