3 Things I Learned About Kenny Chesney’s Live Show at 30,000 Feet

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I love it when I read something about an artist that gives me a new perspective on their music. And it’s even better when what I read also makes me want to go see them live.

I had one of these moments on a recent plane trip to Austin when I was thumbing through United’s Hemisphere inflight magazine that included an interview country music star Kenny Chesney.

I snapped three pictures from the interview to share with you because it was these quotes from Chesney that got me thinking differently about his live show.

kenny chesney live concert quotes

I love the quotes because they explore three important topics:

1) his dedication to entertaining his diehard fans

2) his approach to winning over new fans

3) how he seeks intimacy with his fan and is transitioning to the next phase of his touring career.

kenny chesney live concert quotes

 

And as I was soaring back to Chicago at 30,000 feet I gazed out the window and thought about our Johnny CashTaylor Swift, Keith UrbanLady Gaga and Wilco experiments. How does Chesney compare to those artists?

And if I was flying on Southwest instead of United maybe Chesney would have done a secret show like Mat Kearney did.

Check out Chesney’s quotes and let me know what you think.

Chesney fans, tell us about your favorite favorite concert moments and we’ll share them on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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I Still Believe That Hustling Up 80 Floors Is A Lot Like Touring

Kohls step up Chicago
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 Kohls step up Chicago

 

Twelve hours from now, just like I did last year, I’ll be run/trotting up 80 floors for the kids. It’s a great cause to support Children’s Memorial Hospital and I really enjoyed being a part of our team of family and friends and a few furry friends as you can see above.

And as an added bonus I learned A LOT about touring endurance during last year’s race when my legs start to burn around the 40th floor.

So this year, I’ll again be taking my mind off the ever-present physical pain by refocusing my mind on the topic of touring, and thinking a lot about how physically and emotionally difficult it is to entertain fans night after night, city after city, show after show.

Kinda like Theophilous London’s latest confession.  Or maybe like Daria Musk’s marathon Google Plus Hangout concert.

And as I conquer each floor, I’ll also be thinking about you my fellow concert buddies, especially these awesome fans.

And I’ll be thinking about how much our bodies, emotions and senses play a role in how we experience live music.

Kinda like how Eric needs to feel the speakers during Vivian Girl concerts, and how these fans need to challenge themselves or rediscover themselves one show at a time.

How about you my fellow fans?

How has live music challenged you to dig deeper into a part of your life? Or on the flipside, what non-concert adventure or life challenge, like running up 80 floors, got you thinking differently about your live music experiences?

Or if you’re an artist?

What important lessons have you learned while on tour?  What creative connections or revelations have you discovered to help you deal with the grueling grind of live performance?

Share your concert experiences and thoughts in the comments below, on Twitter @livefixmedia, on Facebook, Google Plus, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341, and we’ll include them in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Jane’s Addiction Wants To Be More Intimate During “Theater of the Escapists” Tour

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Jane's Addiction Theater of the Escapists

 

Yes, it’s true. In a recent Pollstar article Perry Farrell expressed a genuine desire to perform on a more intimate level with fans as the band travels the world on their upcoming 2012 tour that begins in February.

“We chose to play as many of the great theatres that we could find because we wanted to immerse the audience in a unique experience unlike any they have ever seen at a rock show,” Farrell said. “Expect an orgy of musical and visual delights. We like orgies, and hope you do too.”

Well, now the concept of orgies at shows is definitely a provocative one. And as we’ve rethought Farrell’s visionary live show approach, we know Farrell’s choice of words to describe their live show is no surprise because he’s had a history of pushing the boundaries of the live music experience with Lollapalooza and other creative endeavors.

And this makes perfect sense because, as we predicted in our 2011 Live Fix Radio 2011 wrap up episode, more fans will continue to go to smaller mid-sized venues to experience live music in 2012. And Jane’s Addiction seems to be positioning themselves to be right in the thick of that trend.

And by the looks of the Jane’s Addiction fan site, the fans are ready to embark on the next phase of the band’s career this year. Here’s a snippet from the blogs section where a fan, “Acidhead Medusa” has excitedly shared rare concert footage with the JA community.

I have the complete concert of Janes playing at Subteranea in London in september 1990 this was filmed with a single video camera from a balcony position and it is pretty good quality for this time. I have also got their gig at Brixton when they supported Wonderstuff and some of them at Rock City in Nottingham. As far as i know this is the only footage of them in the UK. If anyone would be interested in seeing this let me know and I will upload it. If anyone has got any other film from UK gigs I would be very interested to see it ( 1989 – 91 ).

What’s Your Jane’s Addiction Story?

Are you excited about this Jane’s Addiction tour? Got a cool live show story? Share your concert experiences and thoughts in the comments below, on Twitter @livefixmedia, on Facebook or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341, and we’ll include them in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Looks Like U2 Fans Saved the Concert Industry in 2011

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After exploring the stories of these U2 fans, it obvious that their desire to experience the awe and granduer of U2 live is what saved the concert industry from another down year in 2011. At least that’s what the numbers say.

According to Billboard, here’s a breakdown of the numbers in their Year in Touring article:

…the final leg of U2’s record-shattering 360 tour was enough to make U2 the top touring act of 2011, with $293.3 million in box office and nearly 3 million in ticket sales generated in the time frame of Nov. 1, 2010-Nov. 8, 2011, according to Billboard Boxscore.

The final 360 tally is $736,421,586 with attendance of more than 7 million, according to Boxscore, both all-time touring industry records. The tour wrapped July 30 in Moncton, New Brunswick, with 110 stadium sellouts.

The significance of the tour is finally sinking in for Live Nation Global Touring chairman Arthur Fogel, worldwide producer of the epic trek. “As time moves on and we get further away from it, it actually seems more impressive than when you’re actually in the middle of it,” says Fogel. “When you can capture the attention and imagination and enjoyment of 7 million people, that’s what this business is all about.”

A closer look at the numbers also shows that these numbers are what they appear to be because, as Billboard points out, there was a decline in the number of venues reporting to Box and there’s more than one way to look at the box office percentages.

In North America, 22% fewer shows reported still generated a 7% increase in total gross and only a 3% decrease in attendance. IT’s fair to say that the decline in shows reported to Boxscore reflects a decline in reporting following last year’s meltdown, but touring traffic likely decreased somewhat due to extensive packaging this year and more caution overall in mounting tours.

When analyzed by the more telling barometer of per-show averages, the numbers look even better. Worldwide, the average gross per show was up a whopping 45%, and the average attendance was up 27.3%, reflecting both the growth in international touring markets the global nature of megatours by the likes of U2, Bon Jovi, Waters, and others.

This is just a first pass and some of the 2011 touring numbers, and we’ll take a deeper dive and a closer comparison to 2010’s tally in our year-end wrap-up and explorations on future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Concert Review: Is Touring Fatigue Getting To Theophilus London?

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A good time was had by all during the RE:MIX LAB as Theophilus London and Hollywood Holt laid down some righteous beats and fresh rhymes at the River Arts Center.

Without a doubt, the glory of the groove flowed through the venue as fans danced and rocked oblivion to London’s new songs — an intoxicating mix of soul, post-punk, funk and hip hop — and Holt’s rockin’ blend of classic house and rap tracks.

Something He Said…

But there was something that London kept saying that made me think about the connection between live performance, fatigue and artistic creativity.

At several points during the show, London kept saying that he was tired because he had been on tour for 38 straight weeks. Since this was the first time that I had seen London live, because we didn’t get to catch his set during SXSW 2011, I don’t have anything to compare this show with.

Nonetheless, I still wondered how his fatigue was impacting the show. Did it make the show better or worse?

During the show I thought back to my college baseball playing days and I remember a chat I had made with a fellow teammate who firmly believed that he played better on less sleep because it allowed him to be relaxed and play more naturally and fluidly.

But Can The Same Be True For Live Performance?

Can lack of sleep and physical and mental fatigue be an asset to an artist who struggles with stage anxiety? Possibly.

What I do know is that London’s expressed fatigue didn’t take away from this show at all. And when he mentioned it I felt more emotionally connected to his performance and actually empathized with him.

And judging by the reaction to the fans in the front row, I imagine they would say the same too.

Of course, London isn’t the only, or the first artist, to struggle with tour fatigue, or express it on stage during the show.

There Are Others Too

Lady Gaga, Adele, Kings of Leon, and many other artists have cancelled shows and entire tours because of the exhaustig demands of being on the road.

So does constant touring have a negative impact on an artists creativity? And does that physical and mental fallout pave the path for a lackluster show and creative burnout?

According to this excellent article from the 99 Percent, there is a direct connection between rest, creativity and drug use:

For example science journalist Jonah Lehrer, says

“The relaxation phase is crucial. That’s why so many insights happen during warm showers. … One of the surprising lessons of this research is that trying to force an insight can actually prevent the insight.”

and Brian Eno says:

There’s no point in saying, ‘I don’t have an idea today, so I’ll just smoke some drugs.’ You should stay alert for the moment when a number of things are just ready to collide with one another… The reason to keep working is almost to build a certain mental tone, like people talk about body tone. You have to move quickly when the time comes, and the time might come very infrequently – once or twice a year, or even less.

 

Clearly both of these thoughts and many other great insights in the article are completely at odds with the grinding schedule of touring and the rock star lifestyle.

What’s An Artist Like London to Do?

In order to spread his music staying on the road is a must.  But I wonder…

Are young artists like him who are building up their touring muscles more likely to be victims of touring fatigue than older artists?

Does the extreme emotional outpouring and demands from fans at shows somehow contribute to artist fatigue?

Chime In and Explore With Us

We’re going to continue this exploration on a future episode of Live Fix Radio and in the meantime here’s a video from the London show and a bunch of links I found that can help educate us on things like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), sleep and creativity and other artist who’ve struggled with or overcome touring fatigue. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Check out more of Colleen’s photos here.
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Fucked Up’s Abraham Talks Touring Doubts, Family Struggles, Quitting Band

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We recently explored the new album and live show of Toronto-based punk band Fucked Up and over at Spinner frontman David Abraham share his thoughts about his struggling to balance touring with family.

“I don’t want to say I’ve been teasing it, in a way,” Abraham tells Spinner. “But I’ve been talking about it a lot because I don’t want to take away these five other people’s livelihoods.”

F—ed Up, like most bands, make their money touring, and Abraham, who has a wife and young son at home, doesn’t know how much longer he can carry on with life on the road.

“I can’t tour anymore,” Abraham says. “I don’t want to take that away from them, so I would love to find a way to basically make it into a constantly evolving thing where sometimes F—ed Up can go on tour and other times, it’s another band involved with us.”

Abraham certainly isn’t the first or the last artist to struggle with this issue. And I have to say I respect Abraham’s honesty about his struggle and the way that he explains it certainly shines a new light on the topic, especially since the band is in the midst of touring in the wake of one of the best albums of the year.

That said, check out the video above and let us know what you think about the idea of balancing family with touring in the comments below and we’ll explore it more on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

Thanks to loopyvids for the video of Fucked Up’s concert-in-the-round gig in New York.

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What Did Climbing 80 Floors Teach Me About Touring Endurance?

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Kohls step up Chicago

Here’s another hybrid live music and running exploration for ya.

This past Sunday I participated in Kohl’s “Step Up for the Kids,” which involved me and five other family members trekking up 80 floors (1643 steps) at the Aon Center building in Chicago.  (photo above: they gave us cute Dr. Seuss dolls after finishing.)

So here’s what the race taught me about the necessity of developing touring endurance, and how our live concert experiences can impact us physically and psychologically.
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4 Ways The Pixies Are Rockin’ Their Reunion

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I’ve been following the adventures of the Pixies these last few weeks and I have to say they have thoroughly impressed me in many ways. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t in to them during their “heyday” in the early nineties. But that hasn’t stopped me from having mad respect for how they deliver the goods for their fans via the live music experience over the last few years. Read on to see what I mean.
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The Rhythm Of Playing Live At SXSW Music Festival 2010

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Ask anyone who’s been there before and they’ll tell you that playing and going to SXSW Music Festival is lots of fun. But there’s a little more to it than that. So let’s see how things are going so far at this year’s festival, and see what bands and fans can do to prep for next year.
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Are You In Tune With The Touring Mind of Solo Artists?

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What goes on inside the mind of a solo artist when they’re on stage? Do they struggle to connect with the crowd? Or is their show more personal and palpable? Is there something about the live music experience that convinces solo artists to tour when their heart and mind are divided? 

 

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Stew Art Series (S2): Fans Conduct Umphrey's McGee

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What would you do if you could control a band’s live show?

Would you tell them to play your favorite songs note for note, or would you request a fresh improvisation on the spot?

Well, if you’re an Umphrey’s McGee fan, you’ll have the chance to be a part of a very interesting concert experience that gives you “control” over a show.

During Umphrey’s McGree current tour on select dates they’ll be inviting fans to participate in an all-new Stew Art Series (aka, “S2“) – “an interactive fan experience where audience members “conduct” the band’s live improvisations.”

When I saw Umphrey’s McGee at Summer Camp last year I was impressed at their fusion of rock, jazz, soul, and especially their improvisation style that apparent involves the band members sending signals to each other as cues for the next improvisational move.

So it makes perfect sense that they would embark on such “a crowd-sourced improvisation experiment,” in which all the music performed by the group on stage will be entirely directed by S2 audience members. 

Since I have yet to experience an S2 event, I’ll share with you what has been explained to me via the initial press release thus far:

…The inaugural S2 at Milwaukee’s Eagles Ballroom was received with overwhelming enthusiasm and to rave reviews. The sold-out crowd of 50 fans submitted their ideas by texting descriptive words, phrases, and pop culture references (pretty much whatever came to mind), to the Umphrey’s Mozes mobile interface. 

The suggestions were then filtered by the band’s long time Sound Caresser Kevin Browning and projected on a screen for the band to digest and turn into the next phase of the jam.  The band’s music varied stylistically with suggestions ranging from “an afternoon bus ride in Jamaica” to “drinking pina coladas…in a hurricane”. 

Here’s one fan’s reaction so far after the Milwaukee show. “S2 was the coolest thing I have ever been a part of. It’s always been a dream of mine to meet the band, and the opportunity to participate in leading the Jam for the band was a dream come true as well.”

It’s important to note that the band wants to make one thing very clear. “S2 shows are TOTALLY separate events than each concert date and will be sold as a separate ticket.” 

They also explain that “if you get a ticket to S2 that does not get you into the show later that night (and vice versa).”

“The S2 experiment is just that, an experiment,” says Keyboardist Joel Cummins. “The improvisational elements of our show have always been one of our favorite parts about playing together – and we think the audience feels that way, too. That’s our inspiration for the S2 series. It’s also a great way to stay on top of our chops.”

Some other key points to note:

  •  S2 events take place in the early evening before the respective show start times.
  •  S2 events also include a Q&A session for fans to ask about what they’re witnessing.
  •  The ticket will also include a custom laminate that will be different for each S2 event.
  •  Every attendee will receive an autographed CD of the Stew Art Series they attend – minutes after the event   has concluded.
  • Prices and ages vary from show to show – which should last one hour (with Q&A).

But I wonder…?

Why the separation between the concert and the S2 event?  

Is the separation a creative way to make each pre-concert unique and maximize monetarily on the standard concert ticket price?

If I was going to these S2 events, I would be a bit disappointed when it’s over because if I didn’t have tickets and thus couldn’t go to the show afterwards.

Even though, it looks like an innovative experiment that’s breaking new ground in the concert experience, I wonder why they aren’t doing it during the actual concert?

Why would you waste such a great opportunity for fan interaction before the actual concert? 

Is this just a test-run to see how they can incorporate it into the live show?

If it is a test, why not just let it rip and give S2 a full fan test during the show?

Here’s  list of shows for the fall tour so far.

UPDATE:

Umphrey’s offers their next S2 event in D.C. – during a two night run at the 9:30 Club.  Details are as follows:

Umphrey’s McGee S2
Saturday, November 21
@ 4:00 PM (doors at 3:30 PM)
9:30 Club

815 V Street, Washington D.C.
Tickets:  $99.00
ON SALE WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4 AT 12 NOON EASTERN TIME AT WWW.UMPHREYS.COM

If you’re planning to go to any of these shows, let us know how the S event and the regular concert goes for you.  

October 21 Knitting Factory Spokane WA
October 22 Showbox Seattle WA
October 23 McDonald Theatre Eugene OR
October 24 Crystal Ballroom Portland OR*** [S2 show that day]
October 25 Eureka Theatre Eureka CA
October 27 Crystal Bay Club Crystal Bay NV
October 28 McNears Mystic Theatre Petaluma CA
October 29 House of Blues West Hollywood CA
October 30-31 Las Tortugas – Dance of the Dead IV Groveland (Yosemite) CA
November 11 The Opera House Toronto, Canada
November 12-14 Higher Ground Ballroom South Burlington VT
November 15 Port City Music Hall Portland ME
November 17 Northern Lights Clifton Park NY
November 18 Water Street Music Hall Rochester NY
November 19 Mr. Small’s Theatre Millvale PA
November 20-21 9:30 Club Washington D.C.
December 10-14 Caribbean Holidaze Runaway Bay
December 29 Vic Theatre Chicago IL
December 30-31 Aragon Ballroom Chicago IL
March 21-23 Jam in the ‘Dam, The Melkweg Amsterdam

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Is Michael Jackson Confused About His London Shows?

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The music of Michael Jackson has always held a special spot in my heart, especially after Thriller became one of my favorite albums as a kid growing up in the eighties.  (Update: This post was written two days before Michael Jackson’s death. Please read my response to this unexpectedly timely post here.) 

But I have to admit I’ve had my doubts about Michael Jackson returning to the stage to perform 50 shows  in London, a run that’s scheduled to begin the first week of July. And even though I once had a t-shirt with an velvety iron-on picture of Thriller’s cover on it,  Jackson’s attempt to perform again seemed way too strange a story for me to take him seriously.

And now, it seems, that the King of Pop is facing his own doubts and more legal complications as he gets ready for his upcoming London shows Billboard reports

AEG Live president and CEO Randy Phillips has rejected U.K. tabloid reports that Michael Jackson told fans that he only wanted to play 10 London O2 Arena shows rather than the 50 that have been scheduled.

And them came the legal issues saying Jackson was over committed in his attempt to do 50 London shows. But those same “over booked” shows would also allow Jackson  to pay some of his alleged large  amount of looming legal bills and achieve concert history:

Billboard reports  “Jackson’s series of London shows have been touted as unprecedented. AEG Live says that, all together, the shows will gather the biggest audience ever to see an artist in one city.

But AEG says Jackson will be there ready for the hungry London crowds:

The shows begin July 8, Jackson’s first in 12 years. Producer/promoter AEG Live has footed the bill for a $20 million production, and the show layout is coming together. “Originally we tried to keep the show down to 90 minutes, but Michael has so many must-do songs in his repertoire that the shows now will be two-plus hours,” AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips tells Billboard.

Well, we’ll see how this turns out…

What are your expectations for Jackson’s London shows?

And would you drink lots of Pepsi, grab your crotch and do the moonwalk at the show if he did a This is It! world tour?

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How Twitter Can Build Tour Buzz, Fans

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I came across this cool list of 10 tips from Sound Citizen that explains how musicians and bands can use Twitter to connect with fans.

Here’s 5-7, since they specifically call out the live concert experience.

Update About Recent Performances. Your fans want to know about a show you just did. It’s not only a great way to stay in touch, but also to let followers know how much you enjoyed the crowd and their city. You know how when you mention a city’s name during a performance and everyone goes nuts? Same thing applies with Twitter.

Announce Upcoming Tour Dates and Appearances. Recently announced tour dates have a way of spreading through Twitter (and consequently all over the Web) and give followers and fans a sense of urgency. Will you be featured on TV or radio soon? Tell ‘em.

Give Away Some Tickets. Want to make friends fast? Consider giving away a pair of tickets to your followers. Start by announcing that you plan on giving away tickets soon. You’ll see a deluge of new followers. Then follow through by selecting a random follower(s) to receive free tickets to an upcoming show. Make sure to make a post after the fact, telling the rest of your followers that a winner was chosen and call out the winner with an “@” link, like this: Thanks everyone for the great response to our ticket giveaway! @TheMikePhillips is the winner!

After my experience of connecting with other live music fans and other Tweeters during the Grammys, these tips are right on. Using Twitter as a way to instantly connect with fans after a show and to keep the live buzz connection going is something bands can’t pass up.

Twitter is also about soaking up the moment as news, a thought or an event unfolds in front of you or in your mind. Then you take that emotional fodder and connect it with those who are like minded or sharing the same experience.

Live concerts work in the same way. And this type of emotional connection is something only the live concert experience can provide for fans.

If bands capitalize on the live experience via Twitter, fans are sure to respond in ways that might make the tour better as it rolls along.

If you’re a band and using Twitter, let me know how it’s going. If you’re new to Twitter but plan on experimenting, let me know, too.

What do you think?

Drop a comment or tweet me @chriscatania

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How India Licked the Black Lips

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Though their not the first American rock band to cause a raucous in foreign countries, this January story about Atlanta garage-rockers Black Lips cancelled tour got me thinking about how foreign countries respond to and govern the live music experience.

I first got to know the Black Lips when I reviewed their 2007 live album from Tijuana Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo. The energy from that recording made me wonder what their show might be like.

Listening to the album also got me wondering if what type of impact a band like the Black Lips would have on in a foreign country that might not embrace their crazy free-for-all live show.

So when this story about their Indian tour disaster broke in late January I took a closer look at how live music is governed in strict foreign countries like India and how local authorities, and fans under their rules, respond to a live show by the Black Lips. I wanted to see if there were other reasons that caused the disaster.

This SPIN interview gives a first-hand perspective of what happened and how the band had to high-tail it out of the country in order to avoid arrest for “exposing themselves” and “promoting homosexuality;” Outrageous antics that have gotten them in trouble before in other countries.

And had the band done a bit of cultural research on several of their India tour spots before the tour, might they have learned that several cities in India have been faced with a recentclamp downs” on live music?

But was it all the fault of the Black Lips?

With the live music experience being oppressed in these Indian cities, maybe it was a case of fans in certain cities releasing and rebelling against the forced live music oppression.

At a few points, the SPIN interview mentions that it wasn’t until the band was “a little better received” in Chennai, where they played the Campus Rock Idol showcase at Sir Mutha Venkata Subbarao Concert Hall,” that they began to get themselves in trouble with the Indian law.

I’ve seen bands do some pretty asinine things on stage just because they don’t know what to do with their emotional anxieties or they’re afraid that the crowd wasn’t digging their music.

So maybe it was a combination of India’s oppressive “clamp down” on live music actually and the Black Lips lack of foreign audience awareness that contributed to the Black Lips display of “illegal behavior”?

Since I still haven’t had the chance to see them live, I won’t officially say that’s the case with the Black Lips. But according to the videos and new reports, there seems to be a correlation between the crowd response and the Black Lips needing the fan response. Together the two might have been the spark that lit the fuse.

Figuring out what made the Black Lips do what they did will take some time to figure out as the their U.S. tour roles on and the India Tour documentary gets released. And whatever those reasons might be, this story by itself brings up some very interesting cultural, psychological and sociological questions for us to consider.

Cultural Guides for Bands?

Do bands and tour managers—who don’t want to lose money if a tour is cancelled–invest in cultural guides to brief them on the moral and cultural climate?

Foreign Fan Mind Control?

Do foreign audiences have more control over the emotional response of bands like the Black Lips who might not understand the differences between the response of a U.S. audience and a foreign audience? And when a band is not getting the response they expected, do fans realize how much power they have on a performance?

This story received a fair amount of press. And when I watched watching the Vice records YouTube videos, I started to wonder if this whole thing was a crafty publicity stunt or just a case of an organic and intriguing live music cultural case study.

Keeping an eye on other live music culture clashes, in future posts I’ll take a look at the 2008 documentary film Heavy Metal in Baghad to see how Iraqi metal band Accrassicuda dealt with their own cultural oppression.

But for now let’s talk:

Hey fans:
Tell me if you’ve see the Black Lips live and what your experience was like.

Do you live in a culture where your live music experience is or was oppressed?

Hey artists:

Have you toured a foreign country and learned about the cultural differences the hard way? Or did you take time to educate yourself?

Warning: Viewer discretion is advised for Black Lips in India YouTube video.

Black Lips in India

Black Lips reflect post-India Tour:

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