Tours de Farce: Living In The Past
And that surprised us. If only because we had assumed that technology had made tour dates better, and that any date by any artist or band on today’s road, say 30 Seconds To Mars or Gus Gus, is eons ahead in design and usability than anything an old concert itinerary might have to offer.
But there he sat, a typical Pollstar.com user offering an insight never before encountered. Are today’s tour dates somewhat inferior to the dates of the past? Is a Led Zeppelin date from 1971 somehow better than a current Alter Bridge date? Or is this just another facet of Baby Boomer conceit? Like saying that Adam West is a better actor than Aston Kutcher?
Of course, tour dates were made differently back then. Back in the 60s, after a booking agent and promoter shook hands on a deal, the hard data that made up the date-city-venue event nucleus would then be taken to a skilled craftsman, who, in turn, would pound out the typeface by hand and then print the finished product onto real paper for distribution in that era’s music magazines like Creem and Rolling Stone.
But times have changed. Creem is no longer with us, and Rolling Stone is like that much-beloved, eccentric uncle who comes for Thanksgiving dinner and insists upon eating at the kid’s table, if only because he loves the food fights. And tour dates? Sure, dates for The Fixx and Foo Fighters are made differently then similar dates were constructed back in the 60s. Microchips and polymers have taken the place of metal and stone, and illegal Canadian laborers from Vancouver have replaced the artistic craftsmen of yore, but the basics are still there. You still get a date, plus a city, and a venue. Just like your father’s tour data.
Chalk it up to perception. An ingrained belief that times really were better when you were a kid. Better clothes, better music, and better TV actors. And tour dates? Try as we have, with education, persuasion, altercation and castration, we just can’t convince the generation of love beads, lava lamps and funny looking objects made out of glass tubing, that a concert date, like Gwen Stefani playing Phoenix on October 16, is as good as a 1968 date at The Fillmore for Janis Joplin. Chalk it up to perception. Chalk it up to selective retention. Chalk it up to old age crying out for one last grasp at youth. No matter the reason, deep down inside, when all is said and done, we know that today’s tour dates, including the calendars for Lifehouse, Michael Bolton and Tori Amos, are just as good as the tour dates of legend. Just like we know that Adam West really isn’t a better actor than Aston Kutcher.
Burt Ward, on the other hand…