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State of the Airwaves

Social Club, Sellouts, and Someday

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

Question: what’s more depressing than a winter week with only a couple of decent concerts? (See previous installments of my column from, well, any week during IAP.) Answer: A winter week with only a couple of decent concerts, none of which you can go to. The Airwaves Show of the Week is a double bill of Guster on Friday in Worcester and Saturday in Boston; unfortunately both shows are sold out. Also highly recommended are two evenings with the Buena Vista Social Club at the Orpheum Theater on Monday and Tuesday; once again, both shows are sold out. Want to avoid such a fate in the future? The Boston Phoenix runs a weekly “Hot Tickets” column that reviews the more mainstream tickets currently on sale. You’re not going to find listings of all the best concerts in town (hey, that’s what I’m for), but you’ll hear about most of the shows that are big enough to sell out before they do.

Speaking of selling out, I got an e-mail last week in reference to my diatribe about punk bands being labelled sellouts by their fans. (All hail Dan, the god of segues.) Essentially the counterargument was that success is not equivalent to getting a video on MTV and that when a band radically changes their style of music to become more accessible, they’re deserting their long-time fans. I agree with the latter notion, but I feel my point was totally misinterpreted. My attack was mainly based on people who desert their favorite bands just because suddenly everybody else likes them. Look at Reel Big Fish: “Sellout” and “She Has A Girlfriend Now” were relatively similar to the band’s other songs, but fans started to get sick of them just because the rest of the world had suddenly discovered them. In terms of success, I’m not saying that you have to be overplayed to be a good band. (In fact, for the most part, my column vehemently denies this.) But as a musician, I know that the ultimate goal is for people to hear and enjoy your music, but to do it without compromising your integrity. You shouldn’t change your sound to pop for the masses, but if your fan base consists of twenty people, then you want to find some way to reach out to more. When those twenty people start whining, they’re just being selfish.

Well, I’m excited and disappointed at the same time about this next issue: the new Cure single, “Maybe Someday,” has hit radio. First let’s look at the bright side -- it’s always awesome to hear new material from The Cure, and “Maybe Someday” is a very good song, but to me it’s a bit underwhelming. Since their last album, the band has appeared in various settings; they did an amazingly trippy cover of “World In My Eyes” on the Depeche Mode tribute album, they created fabulous electronica-based songs called “Wrong Number” and “More Than This,” and half the band made a killer rock song called “A Sign From God” under the name COGASM with Reeves Gabrels. I like the old Cure sound, but I adore the new spacier Cure sound, and was looking forward to an album full of songs in that vein. “Maybe Someday” embraces the band’s older more guitar-based sound, which is not entirely a bad thing, but it’s not a good sign for those of us who were looking for more edgy material from the band.

But now I must move on to a grave and important matter. Those of you following the gripping grey box war between my column and The Essential Vegetarian may have noticed a recent lack of offense on the part of my archnemesis Katie Jeffreys. For several weeks, she stopped mentioning my crusade against her herbivorous ways, and then last week she shocked the world by saying something (gasp) nice about me. Taking into consideration these points as well as observations of her behavior toward me here at the office, I am forced to reach a horrifying conclusion: The Essential Vegetarian has taken leave of her senses and fallen in love with me. I am touched and flattered, Katie ... but alas, I long for a girl who appreciates the texture and taste of filet mignon between her teeth. Eat a pork chop and call me, and perhaps I may answer your desperate ring.

IAP’s got me sleep-deprived and nocturnal and eager to answer your e-mail. Get your last minute votes in for the Airwaves Reader Awards (the best of the year in albums, singles, live acts, local acts, and music videos), tell me why my appraisal of the punk rock fan base is totally wrong (which I know at least one person will), try to convince me tofu is the central purpose for all existence, or throw out anything else that’s on your mind. We’ll chit-chat, we’ll network, and maybe you’ll get a mention in the column. Until next week, as spring term begins and my life becomes even more hellish, keep expanding your horizons.