Friday, August 21, 2009

Monsters of Drawing Lines

There was a time when Conor Oberst, although thankful to the people that helped with the performance, condemned the show he was playing, because it was put on by a "horribly greedy and oppressive organization" called Clear Channel. A time when Oberst was embarassed about even selling music: "buy my records down at the corporate chain. I tell myself I shouldn't be ashsamed, but I am" (from "Hole in One" by desaparecidos). A time when Bright Eyes made sure if they played a Clear Channel venue that the media giant didn't see a penny. A time when Bright Eyes refused to play a show in 2005 at The Pagent in St. Louis, because of the venue's ties with Clear Channel.

Which was puzzing, when I saw that Oberst's latest project Monsters of Folk is selling tickets for their upcoming tour through Live Nation, a sister company of Clear Channel. On top of the reasonable expensive tickets you get charged several fees. You have your standard venue fee (which I'd question if the venue is really getting anything out of it), you get charged charity (which eradicates the definition of it as 'charity') and a 'ticket fee'($12.95, a whopping %28 of the ticket price, which is Live Nation's 'we've got a monopoly and you guys are all suckers' tax). I remember buying Bright Eyes tickets from ticketmaster, which is one thing. Crossing a line you drew yourself in the sand is another.

Maybe a band with three members that will draw a huge crowd has no other choice but to nationally distribute tickets through Live Nation. Maybe they're under contract. Maybe Oberst is just giving in and going along with the way things are. Maybe worse. But hey, even Faulkner wrote screenplays in Hollywood for a while to be able to eat.

As Oberst said: "If anyone wants to see music continue as an artform and not a commercial good, then nows the time to make a change, because that's the way it's going. And there will no longer be real music if we keep letting them shove it down our fucking throats."

The rant video's here. Conor Oberst's speech before performing "Let's Not Shit Ourselves" live on MTV at the Shortlist awards on October 5th of 2003. The band was riding the release of Lifted. Needless to say, MTV cut the speech out of the broadcast.

As penance for this heinous crime, I offer you a crooning M. Ward on "The Sandman, The Brakeman and Me." I think the song is a representation of the trio's alter egos. On Bright Eyes' Cassadaga there was a song called "If the Brakeman Turns My Way," making him the 'brakeman.' Seeing as M. Ward's singing, that probably makes him the 'me,' which leaves Jim James as 'the sandman.'

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