Rock music is often called a dinosaur, though I find that term inaccurate, as the dinosaurs actually died. I thoroughly believe that if someone were to invent rock music today, it would be snarked out of existence by the masses as quick as you can say “in a pool of his own vomit.” For a genre so steeped in hideous excess, you need a prism of cynicism through which to view the merits and drawbacks objectively. When you strip away the theatrics, the fashion, and the cultural impact, what are you left with besides a bunch of songs that sound exactly the same? Not bloody much, it turns out.
People shouldn’t play rock music anymore. Sure, there are a handful of artists who continue to reinvent the genre without any of the douche-chill-inducing, stage-diving bullshit of their predecessors, but for the most part rock is performed either by bands that should have all fucked off and died decades ago or by sweaty moronic jocks who are so enamored by the washed-out fantasy world of booze, guitars, ’n’ groupies that they think to themselves “I can do that!” and spend half their lives embodying a subculture that probably should have been shut down the first time around.
I’ve been unfortunate enough to see a few of the latter in concert in recent years. On one occasion I was in the venue section upstairs in an “alternative” bar where a shitty shock-rock quartet was playing. They were made up exactly like Twisted Sister and were about as enjoyable to listen to. I’d been dragged along by a “friend,” and I must have been the only person in the crowd who was visibly scowling as the platform-shoed mutants on the stage swaggered about playing horrific cover songs and even worse original numbers. Several times throughout their set, the front man grabbed the microphone and screeched, “ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?” which was, amazingly, met with whoops and cheers instead of a barstool being launched at his overly made-up face.
I ended up leaving about halfway through to go outside, smoke, and reevaluate my social circle. I remember my friend asking me, “What was the problem, man? We were having fun.” And while that may have been true, what he didn’t realize is that he was doing it wrong. They all were.
On another occasion at a music festival, I saw a band called Airbourne, who are basically AC/DC about forty years too late. They’re long-haired Australians who play terrible repetitive stomp-rock, and I hate them with a passion so fiery it could set fire to a skull on a motorbike on a terrible shirt at one of their gigs. During the show, I remember thinking the following things:
“Why does he have his shirt off? Did he lose it?”
“Oh, great. He’s climbing to the top of the speaker stack. Maybe he’s doing the honorable thing and hanging himself.”
“Wait, no, he’s just leaping from it for theatrical purposes and everyone’s going nuts. I hope one of them ODs soon.”
There’s really no viable artistic reason for playing music that stopped being cool decades ago, and rock is the only genre where it’s somehow seen as permissible. If a rapper took to the stage today and started off with the words “a hip hop-a hippy” before breaking into a slow, bouncing song about saying no to crime and being respectful to women, the audience would physically tear him to pieces, and rightfully so. The only reason people still play rock is to become insanely rich, and I can’t fault them for that, but I can fault the general public for supporting their careers.
Robert Plant recently played the UK’s Glastonbury Festival, and his performance summed up everything that’s wrong with rock music’s bloated vestiges. Actually, this picture sums it up way better. Looking like the Cowardly Lion and singing like one of the Munchkins after a tracheotomy, he sauntered about in a dementia shirt failing to hit half the notes on the songs that made him a household name and did that hideous kind of dad-dancing that elderly rock gentlemen are given free license to indulge in onstage.
He’s not cool, he’s not relevant, and to anyone with a halfway healthy appetite, he certainly isn’t sexy. His band stole much of their material (including the melody from “Stairway to Heaven”) from more obscure artists, including those that supported them, and Plant’s band mate Jimmy Page once kidnapped an underage girl and spent a good few years fucking her every which way.
Of course, these types of allegations have also been admitted to by Mick Jagger and Jerry Lee Lewis. They have also been made of Bill Wyman, David Bowie, Chuck Berry, and Ted Nugent, so why do people continue to line the pockets of these ugly and cantankerous musical relics? Why do people continue to spend shitloads of money on merchandise and tickets when their heroes are demonstrably villains, when they haven’t written a decent tune in years, and when there are plenty of musical scenes out there that aren’t based on a premise of “guys with crooked teeth learning to play watered-down blues songs in order to fuck the girls that rejected them in high school”? Because people are idiots, that’s why. There’s only one group of middle-aged men who should be allowed to sing and gyrate in public without fear of reprisal, and that’s the homeless. Good day.