Business as Usual: Stalling in Sudan - Al Uthman

Chris Hitchens Digs Deep - Matt Taibbi

Rods From Gods: Reagan's Legacy - Bob Fitrakis

Learning from the Help- Matt Taibbi

Interview w/ Perry Rogers, Video Captain- Ken Barnes

From the Desk of Vin Diesel

Ask a Chronic Pot-Smoker

I Hate You

Powell Goes Nuts- Josh Righter

BEAST Staff Forces Publisher to Run for Congress


Buffalo in Briefs


Sports Blotter - Matt Taibbi

Celebrity Math

[sic] - your letters

Pusher - Distro Watch - Seamus Gallivan


Unbalanced Load - Darren Longo


Kino Korner


AudioFiles: Uncle Sam's Jam, Retro Schlock


Archives--Old BEASTs

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© 2004 The Beast


The Sounds

The Darkness

Uncle Sam's Jam




"Retro Rock": Another Mass Market Fad?

By Brian Sek

The legendary Frank Zappa once prophesized that the world will come to an end not by nuclear war, crashing into the sun, or holy rapture, but by nostalgia. Every decade has its cycles of nostalgia – the hippie revival of the ‘80s, the punk revival of the ‘90s – but as one will notice, the nostalgia cycles are getting shorter and shorter.  Soon we will wind up being nostalgic for last week, yesterday, and eventually the previous minute.  The cycles will overlap and the cultural space-time continuum will collapse uponitself, leaving us soulless, still and dead.

Case in point: the god-awful travesty that I witnessed one sleepless night when “Last Call with Carson Daly” appeared on my TV screen, much to my horror. Carson introduced this act as “my favorite new band,” (a kiss of death to any music act that seeks to preserve a shred of integrity) and brought out any major label A&R rep’s wet dream – Sweden’s The Sounds.

Critics, in their stampede to reach the circle jerk over this band, have compared them to such sexy ‘80s icons such as Blondie and Missing Persons. They neglect, however, to mention that those two bands were actually good and had attractive lead singers to front them. The Sounds’ singer, Maja Ivarsson, in addition to being the ugliest Swede I’ve ever seen, wore the Gwen Stefani role all too well. She bleaches her hair blonde (and we assumed most Swedes were born blonde), jumps around like an epileptic Johnny Rotten, and tries way too hard to show “Girl Power” by leading an all male band.  What no one seemed to notice was the man standing behind the woman – the shrewd, calculating publicist/manager who got them this gig, and probably handpicked her and the backing musicians much like those creepy pedophiles who put together the Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, and the New Kids On The Old Man’s Jock. So much for female independence.  It’s difficult to describe her voice without less than favorable comparisons to 9/11 and the Holocaust, but picture Bonnie Tyler (the singer of “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”) after 25,000 cigarettes, a tracheotomy and a sex change.  It’s that bad!  The only twist this band has that separates them from the rest of the flaming shitheap of modern music is a hyperactive keyboardist playing an old Yamaha DX-7 to make them sound like your average crappy guitar band led by a female, but “’80s-sounding.”  This element makes them “retro,” which is to say “derivative and unoriginal.”  If you really would like to listen to music from the ‘80s, please don’t bother with this ball of fly ridden turds; pick up some actual albums from the ‘80s, or give a hard working ‘80s cover band your well-saved money.

Any look at derivative retrospective bands would not be complete without mentioning the U.K.’s The Darkness.  Their tireless publicist has landed them in MTV’s Buzz Bin and on the cover of Spin just by using the all-style-no-substance ploy.  The word on the street is that if you don’t “get” them, you’re not hip, cool, or intellectual.  Keep in mind that this is coming from the same pretentious, anglophiliac shitheads who spout the same garbage about Radiohead. The Darkness would like to return us to a time when music was dumb, while simultaneously executing a whale-sized piss-take on the media and the music industry. Their weapon? Irony. Yes, the same irony that causes rich kids to pretend they’re part of the working class by wearing Von Dutch trucker hats and tight, faded t-shirts emblazoned with bands that tour State Fairs.  Some may not “get” it, but I consider them the lucky ones. The rest of you who bought into the hype, well, to be honest, are suckers. Suckers of what, I’m not sure (that’s your business), but yeah, you suck.  In the meantime the rest of us keep donating money to cure the disease known as Anglophilia, America’s most common cause of mental retardation.  Remember folks – England gave us the Spice Girls and Mad Cow Disease.

This “looking back” bullshit needs to come to an end, or we’ll all die.  Sure, we all must get a warm and fuzzy feeling when we look back at that wonderful decade when we had a commie-bashing former actor’s finger on the trigger of our nuclear arsenal, the poor and middle class were getting boned harder than they’ve been since they had to sleep in their own shit in the 1600’s, and dollars and cents controlled what we listen to on the radio (OK, so maybe a few things haven’t changed), but do we really need to keep recycling music (a lot of which wasn’t even that good enough to begin with)?


By Seamus Gallivan

I had a strange feeling as I drove past Niagara Square last Friday night. As I peered in from Franklin St. to see a round of airborne spotlights and an amazingly lit City Hall, I screamed to myself, “The Goo Goo Dolls are the best band ever!”

But I’m no Goopie. Don’t get me wrong - they’re a good band who’s penned some great rock ’n’ roll tunes over the years. But with that first look at their vision come true, I was hit with the same notion that I had after interviewing Robby Takac about Music Is Art last month: much as with the young life of Good Charamel Records, their vision and ability to stamp this city onto the grand musical map is bigger and better than the music.

Uncle Sam’s Jam was a huge hit, and thanks to the visions of the Goos, Buffalo Place, and (gritting my teeth here) Clear Channel, the world will soon see a Goos live DVD that will showcase Buffalo’s greatest trait - we throw a mean party. Buffalo Place’s work with Thursday at the Square is proof of what we’re capable of - block off a couple streets, build a stage and put some decent names on it, and set up lots of beer tents, and we’re good to go. And don’t fret too much about those decent names - just make ’em big enough to generate a buzz, cuz we just wanna get drunk and people-watch anyway.

That idea was aided by what I found at my first stop upon entering the show late Saturday afternoon. Checking out the BEAST voter registration camp, I found two of J. Christopher’s fiendly lackeys at a table trying to encourage the masses. “Man, this place is packed,” I said. “How’s the registration going?” They showed me a “stack” of about ten completed forms, and shrugged their shoulders. They didn’t understand that this weekend was not about civic duty, it was about celebrating patriotism and civic pride! Wait a minute…

OK, I suppose the tables were in a rough spot. Maybe if they’d set up next to the beer line, people would’ve noticed. But I had no time for these notions, as I realized that Ben Folds was playing, despite the fact that the Buffalo Place schedule had him going on last. Great show guys, but you really jobbed on that one. I watched the last few remarkable tunes from one of today’s most exciting pop songwriters, not to mention a sick piano player, with a bitter scowl, none too comforted by my muse’s attempt at calming, saying that I hadn’t missed any of Rufus Wainright.

It was a nice try, cuz Wainright really is an act to see. He has a towering voice, clear as Crystal Gravy and more range than Nebraska. But I’ll tell you one thing I didn’t miss in Ben Folds’ set - there weren’t any songs called “Gay Messiah.” I’m an open-minded guy, so when Wainright kicked into that ditty, I took it for its melodies, but had to laugh when any given meathead raised his eyebrows, shook his head, and said, “I’m goin’ to get another beer, and I ain’t comin’ back ‘til this fruitcake’s gone.”

Guster put on a solid, tightly arranged set, showing how far they’ve come since I first saw them six years ago and declared them entirely overrated. But like most in the square, by then I just wanted to party, and retired to the makeshift BEAST headquarters overlooking the crowd. Looking out on the sprawling masses around a huge stage and sound system, I felt pretty damn good about this town, and we were only halfway home.

I’d been pretty pumped to check out that gritty little sparkplug Ani DiFranco for the first time on Sunday, but I got swept away to Lily Dale for a psychic reading. My medium said I’d made a great choice, and that it was going to rain on Ani’s set anyway.

I made it back in time for the start of the Goo Goo Dolls set, which was marred with the major threat of continued rain and perhaps the worst sound I’ve ever heard at a large show. No offense to the auxiliary guitarist, but I don’t think anyone came down to hear him blasting louder than every other instrument combined. Hopefully they’ll be able to fix that for the DVD, cuz everything else was brilliant. The band was playin’ their tails off, the light show made City Hall look like Magic Kingdom, and there’ll be enough footage of drunken stumblin’ for a dozen blooper reels.

But after about five tunes, Mother Nature’s wrath felt inevitable, so I moved on to my nearby home front, where I could actually hear Johnny Goo’s vocals better, and could still catch some fireworks. And man, were they some serious fireworks. From the start, it was an intense, multi-climactic display, with a breathtaking finale that put a thundering cap on an unforgettable weekend.

Sure, it had its hitches, but here’s to this being the first annual Uncle Sam’s Jam. We have the clout to bring the names in, we obviously have folks with their act together to put it on, and we sure as hell have enough people to fill Niagara Square for a free two-day bash. My only advice for next year - get the local politicians involved - maybe Tony Masiello and Joel Giambra can lead a public servant supergroup. Call ‘em the Mothers of Stagnation.

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