Saturday, March 27, 2010

MB Presents: The Fred Phelps Award

The other day, about an hour or so before I got up onstage here in Carson City, I got on my computer to see what was new on my Facebook account. I was confronted by my good friend Jeremy Orris ranting and raving like a madman. Or to be more accurate, a mad man. Y'see, his band Idekay was among five bands set to open for 80's hair-metal masters WASP. There was a problem, however - his band, along with the other four, were forced to wait outside the New Oasis nightclub in Sparks for several hours as WASP soundchecked. For seven hours. The band's tour manager also wound up forcing three of the five bands off the bill for no reason whatsoever, prohibited them from selling their merchandise, forbade the remaining two bands from backlining their equipment (basically, setting up in advance in front of the headliners' gear), allowed the two bands twenty-minute sets, and most bizarrely, forbid any and all, including New Oasis staff and security, even the local promoter, from looking lead singer Steven "Blackie Lawless" Duren in the eye.

Normally, this would be an unfortunate but all too common occurence. It does happen a lot, bands on club tours being forced to dump local bands from opening slots due to various real or imagined circumstances. But what pissed everyone off what that the local bands had done a lot of the ticket-selling for this show. A lot of hard work was thrown away by a band with no respect for the people who actually got the butts in the seats for them. Jeremy's band chose to walk away with their dignity intact. My good friends Pain Clinic were tossed from the show quite literally as the result of a coin toss. Both of these bands had driven for more than an hour just to get to the show, arrived at the venue when they were told to be there for set-up, waited patiently for the headliners to soundcheck, then were treated with utter contempt. Jeremy had every reason in the world to be mad. He vented his anger on his Facebook account, and Pain Clinic did the same on their MySpace account. I checked in with Pain Clinic, and with their drummer James on his own MySpace account, and suggested to them that they should air their grievances with WASP on Blabbermouth, the hard-rock and heavy-metal news website owned by top independent metal label Roadrunner Records. And boy, did they.

Not only did Pain Clinic reveal their shoddy treatment at the hands of WASP, they posted eyewitness accounts of Duren (Lawless) lip-synching his vocals during the soundcheck and the show, as well as accounts of watching WASP's soundtech muting Duren's microphone during songs, and unmuting it between songs so Duren could talk to the audience. While pre-recorded background vocals are nothing new in popular music, going back as far as the Sixties, but this is pushing into Milli Vanilli territory. Professional musicians know when people fake it. I know when people fake it. Powerlight faked their vocals for years, with Jackie mumbling along to her own pre-recorded vocals. I watched the keyboard player for the Dutch symphonic-metal band Within Temptation fake his keyboard parts during a show in Reno two-and-a-half years ago. I have no doubt whatsoever that Pain Clinic, however young they are, they're professional enough to know when they see a man faking it. They've endured a few slings and arrows from the trolls that inhabit the message boards on Blabbermouth, but in my opinion are stronger and better people for it.

Now I'll bet you're wondering about the title of this post, and why I would have an award named for a vile and disgusting anti-gay preacher from Kansas. This is something I've decided to bring over from my blog on MySpace, an award given to exemplary displays of stupidity of mind-boggling proportions. So now I give you the latest winner of the Fred Phelps Award for being The Dumbest Humanoid On The Planet: Steven Edward Duren, a/k/a Blackie Lawless. In fact, let's take it further than that. This blog has the word 'boycott' in it, after all.

It's time to call a boycott against WASP, and against Duren personally, for their cruel mistreatment of hard-working local musicians, their idiocy and bizarre behavior, and the deception of their paying customers. While I cannot verify the accusations leveled against them by Pain Clinic because I wasn't there to see it for myself, I would be hard-pressed to doubt their claims. Here's a link to their posts on Blabbermouth:

It's our privilege to support local music, and it's our responsiblity to call out touring bands that disrespect local bands and musicians. Better yet, don't support bands that behave in such a foul way. Let them wither and die on the vine as punishment for their actions. It reminds me of an old saying that so many famous people seem to forget:

"Be nice to the people you meet on the way up, because you'll probably see them again on the way down."

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