Friday, October 15, 2010

Top Tours of 2010

There is a company out there called Pollstar, and they track information that has to do with touring artists, concert schedules, concert revenue, that sort of thing.  They are a member of the Associated Press, and are usually the source for news items concerning concert information.  Periodically they release data that tracks the ticket sales for the top 100 concert tours, and I happen to have a copy of their latest list.  The list covers all touring entertainment performance acts worldwide, so it tracks everything from rock and country concert tours to the ice capades. 

I will now go over the top 10 on the list, offer some compelling commentary about each, and mention a few others that made the top 100.  Keep in mind a couple of things:  the list covers ticket sales from January 1st, 2010 through September 30, 2010.  Therefore, if your favorite group did not make the cut, or some of the top 10 seem impossible, don't freak out.  It could just mean that during this nine month period your favorite band wasn't on tour for as many dates as other bands were. The list is based on a count of total tickets sold, not ticket dollars. 

10.  The first artist on the list, coming in with a total of 747,905 tickets sold, is Lady Gaga.  I have not yet made up my mind about her.  People who's opinion I value have tried to convince me she is a great talent.  My own opinion on her is still being formed.  When I hear her she sounds to me just like any other diva singer like Whitney Houston, Beyonce, or Mariah Carey.  To me her songs are catchy, but in kind of an annoying way.  Like a stupid song that you can't get out of your head.

Lady GaGa

I have read about her a fair amount and from what I gather she is a serious artist, obviously a bit self-absorbed, but apparently also rather generous and perhaps a bit less snobbish than a lot of the diva singers.  But I always cast a wary eye toward any artist who's primary notoriety is built around constantly trying to shock people.  Are you listening, Marilyn Manson?

9.  Next on our top 10 list, at number 9 with 774,613 tickets sold, is World Wrestling Entertainment.  The WWE.  Operated by pro wrestling top dog Vince McMahon, the WWE is a huge conglomo of touring and televised pro wrestling, as well as interests in music, film, video sales, product licensing, etc.  It has been around since 1952 when it was known as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation.  Did you know the WWE is a publicly traded corporation?  That's right, you can own stock in a pro rasslin' company.

WWE Logo

Not to demean those who are into wrestling, but I can't stand to watch it for even five minutes.  I never have been able to get into it.  I don't find anything about it compelling, not even for laughs.  I remember in the late 1980's it was really popular.  There were several competing leagues, and it was on tv all the time.  I never watched it.  None of those 774,613 tickets sold were mine.

8.  Country singer Brad Paisley is next, selling 789,887 tickets.  I've heard of Brad Paisley, but I am not into country music, so I  have never heard any of his songs.  His bio says he had 10 consecutive songs reach number 1 on the country charts, an impressive feat.  It also says he has a lot of humor in his songs.  With that many hits and what sounds like an approachable personality, no wonder he's sold so many tickets.

Brad Paisley

He was born in 1972 in West Virginia, and was something of a kid wonder, making a living as a musician by the time he was in junior high school.  But who cares?  It's country music. 

7.  With a total of 856,568 tickets told, number 7 on the list is Michael Buble'.  He is like a modern day Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin type.  I happen to be a huge fan of both Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and their whole genre of music. I have quite a lot of music from both on my iPod, as well as Sammy Davis, Jr., Bing Crosby, and Tony Bennett, and others.  I suppose I should listen to Michael Buble' more than I have.  I had one of his cds from the library once, and he is pretty good.  But when I'm in the mood for some good old 1950's ring-a-ding-ding music, I tend to pull out the classic artists. 

Michael Buble'

Buble' is keeping alive the "singer out in front of a big band thing", and I approve.  He is Canadian, and like all those Frostbacks, he's a big hockey fan.  In his touring rider he has a requirement that in his dressing room the local concert promotors are to provide a logo hockey puck of whatever hockey team resides in that town.  If he's sold nearly 900,000 tickets, that's a lot of cities, so he must have a lot of  hockey pucks.  Don Rickles must love him.

6.  We are inching ever closer to the top.  At number 6, selling 878,939 tickets is another of them "kountry sangers"- Tim McGraw.  His name makes me think of some sort of Irish cowboy- Quick Draw Tim McGraw or something.  Like Brad Paisley, I've heard of this dude too.  I just haven't ever heard one of his songs.  Like all country artists, I'm sure he sings about his dog, his heartache, his former hobo lifestyle, pickin' and grinnin', and that sort of thing, right? 

Tim McGraw

Mcgraw is a little older than Paisley, he's 43.  He also seems to have an aversion to buttoning his shirts.  Almost every photo I found of him he is posing as in the picture above, like some sort of throwback to an old Burt Reynolds photo.  He's trying too hard to look cool, which makes me suspicious of his music.  I will try to not be too snarky, 878,939 drunk country fans will kick my ass.

5.   We have made it to the TOP FIVE!  Landing in that legendary spot on our countdown with 942,277 tickets sold are the Black Eyed Peas.  These hip hop heavyweights have been popular since 2003 when they released their breakthrough album Elephunk.  We have that and one or two others of their cds here at home, though I don't have any on my iPod.  Sadly for the Black Eyed Peas, anybody that is not on my iPod I am not listening to.  That's just the way I roll. 

Black Eyed Peas

My first exposure to the Black Eyed Peas was in 2004, when Lyndy, Evan and I went to Colorado on vacation.  We spent a week at a cabin on a mountain lake near Durango.  There was a small television in the room, but in our remote location, without cable, it only pulled in a few stations.  Luckily, two of them nightly carried the NHL Stanley Cup and the NBA basketball finals, so I was able to get my daily sports fill.  During the NBA games, every time they went to a commercial they played "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas.  Later I learned that the song was originally "Let's Get Retarded", and they re-recorded the lyrics to make it a little less offensive.  I should hope so.

4.  I feel like Casey Kasem as I move on to number 4.  A total of 1,070,024 misguided souls bought tickets to see the Dave Matthews Band.  I know, I know, he's incredibly popular.  To me, though, he's incredibly unlikeable.  I find his singing to be whiny, his music doesn't touch my soul in any way, though it does give me a touch of nausea.  He is the musical equivalent of a chick flick. 

Dave Matthews

Dave was actually born in South Africa, but to our chagrin his parents moved to the U.S. when he was two.  He hit his musical stride in Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the campus of the University of Virginia.  I have walked around in that city and on that campus, and it is a really cool place.  I'm trying not to hold his connection to Charlottesville against it. 

3. The tension is building as we near the top spot. At number 3 on the countdown is something called "Walking With Dinosaurs". What? Hey, don't laugh, those dinosaurs sold 1,115,098 tickets.  Those of you who stick to the science channels on tv, like I usually do, are already familiar with the Walking With Dinosaurs tv series that ran on the Discovery Channel in the early 2000's.  Well, "Walking With Dinosaurs- The Arena Spectacular" (that's it's full name) is a touring collection of animatronic and costumed dinosaurs, accompanied by music, lights, and narration by a paleontologist.   

Walking With Dinosaurs- The Arena Spectacular

The dinosaur arena spectacular show started in Australia, has been touring the U.S. since 2007, and is headed to Europe next.  This is a tour we should all get behind.  If they sell enough tickets they promise to let the dinosaurs eat Dave Matthews.

2.  The Count from Sesame Street was supposed to be here to present number 2 on the list.  He promised me, and his agent promised me, so where is he?  I guess I'll have to do it.  With a shocking 1,368,734 tickets sold, may I present the overrated and underwhelming Bon Jovi.  It's shocking because if you bought one of those tickets, you need shock treatment.  I just don't get it how anybody can listen to this guy.  I can write a concise review of him in just two words- He sucks.  Every time I see him he looks so fake and it causes me to make a fist. Every time I hear his music I drop immediately onto the floor into a fetal position and cry out for Dr. Kavorkian.

Jon Bon Jovi

Reluctantly researching him a little, I noticed his 2007 tour was called the "Lost  Highway" tour.  Dude, he lost the highway from the moment he first started up his car.  His album from 1986, when I first heard of him, was called "Slippery When Wet".  Ewww.  He's owner of an Indoor League football team and hangs around with Bill Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots.  Yeah, well they suck, too. 

1.  Cue the lights, we have reached number 1 on our list.  With a whopping 1,820,962 tickets sold, it's the headbangingest band of them all, AC/DC.  Yes that's right, the darlings of 1980 are still selling out arenas and stadiums big time 30 years later.  It's kind of hard to believe in a way, you'd think a more current artist would be the biggest draw.  But the comfort of 5 rocking Australians playing the same song over and over is a powerful attraction and guaranteed good time for millions of people in their forties and fifties who go to one concert a year.  This band can tour just about any country in the world and draw a big crowd.


In 1980 everyone (including me) bought their Back in Black album.  It is undeniably a great hard rock album, with nearly every song being played on the radio to this day.  Unfortunately AC/DC have used that same cookie cutter too many times for me, and I haven't stayed with them over the years.  I am glad they continue to have success, I'm just not really along for the ride. Obviously Angus Young will go down as one of the greatest of the hard rock guitarists, and I've always been a big fan of Brian Johnson, the lead vocalist.  I never saw AC/DC live, and probably I should have, but I doubt I ever will.   So take a shot of whiskey to honor AC/DC, champs of the ticket sales for 2010 (to date).  They have such a big lead they can probably take the rest of the year off to count their money and still win.  Rock on!

So there you have it, the top 10 ticket selling touring live acts during the first 9 months of 2010.  Now get out there and Support Live Music.

Here are a few of the more interesting (to me) acts rounding out the top 100:

15.  James Taylor/Carole King  Singer-Songwriter extrordinaires
17.  John Mayer *Barf*
23.  The Eagles  Hell is still frozen over
26.  Paul McCartney  The workaholic of the music world
33.  Rush  The only act of the top 100 I saw this year
44.  Eric Clapton  The vintage acts never go out of style
48.  Rod Stewart  See #44
53.  Star Wars: In Concert  Grab your lightsaber
61.  Foreigner/Styx  Classic rock combo tour
65.  Cliff Richard and the Shadows  Going waaay back
69.  Tom Petty  Perhaps the coolest rocker in the world
75.  Cher  Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves
86.  Elton John  King of the Seventies
93.  The Cranberries  They are still together?
100. Bryan Adams  Summer of '69 all over again

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Concert at Tom's

Last night my band played a show at the birthday party of my friend of the past 30 years, Tom.  We took the musical gear over to his house in the early afternoon and set it up in his basement.  Returning in the evening we hung out with the party guests for a while, then the band and everyone else gathered in the basement for the big show.  I thought we played well, and we got a good reaction from everybody.  Lyndy shot a bunch of photos, and I present a collection of them here.  Click on them to enlarge.

The view from front row center

Darren and Jordan expressing themselves

Jarod don't need no stinking karaoke

Jordan approves of Josh's drumming

Darren Danger- your blogging guitarist

Darren, Josh, Jarod, and Jordan

Agressive guitar playing

Josh, our legendary drummer

Jarod and Jordan- focused, professional

Rock and Roll- actual photo

After the show everyone went outside and we all sat around a campfire for a couple of hours.  Despite it being October 9th, it was quite pleasant to sit outside without a jacket.  Jupiter and the stars were bright overhead, s'mores were being prepared, laughter filled the air, and my ears were still ringing from Josh's cymbal crashes.  All in all a great day.

The Rocky Horror Show

Last Friday night Lyndy, Evan and I went to the Topeka Civic Theatre to see a performance of "The Rocky Horror Show".  Playing the part of Riff Raff was Lyndy's nephew Les.  I have been a big fan of all things Rocky Horror since I was in high school.  Like most people, I am familiar primarily with the movie, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".  The movie has long been a popular midnight movie, and arguably the biggest cult film of all.  Many aren't aware of the fact that before there was a movie, Rocky Horror started out as a musical theatrical play  in London.

Actor Richard O'Brien was part of a British production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" when he met Jim Sharman, Australian theater director.  O'Brien shared with Sharman his draft for a new musical he had been writing, then called "They Came From Denton High".  Working together they developed it into a full production, and it opened in London on June 19, 1973.  Gradually moving to bigger and bigger theaters, "The Rocky Horror Show" had an initial run of 2,960 performances.  It first played in the U.S. in 1974, where it flopped after only 45 performances.  Despite that, in late 1974 the musical was turned into the movie "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", relased in 1975.  The movie was a flop, too, until it started catching on in midnight movie showings at the Waverly Theatre in New York City in 1976.  The rest is cult movie history.

After seeing the movie so many times, both in theatres and on the DVD we own, it was really interesting to see it performed in person by actors.  There are two stages at the Topeka Civic Theater, and this played in a the smaller, more intimate one that only holds about 100 in the audience.  As a result we were only about 25 feet from the stage.  When we entered we each picked up a sack containing a water gun, cards, bubbles (substituting for rice), noise makers etc., the same kind of stuff we used to sneak into the movie theatre.  They encouraged the audience to yell out all the commentary as done when attending the movie.  This created a unique situation because about the last thing you'd normally want someone in the audience to do during a play is to shout something out.  I'm sure it was difficult for the actors to keep focused on their lines with all the distractions, but they all took it in stride and often made very funny ad-libs based upon things the audience shouted at them. 

So all in all a very fun night at a performance I'll never forget.  If you ever get a chance to see Rocky Horror as a musical I strongly recommend it.  It is not, however, recommended for the prude or for those with closed minds.