15 July, 2008

Live music delivered by AT&T

That's what I saw advertised underneath iTunes' Lollapalooza playlist this morning. It's kind of a morbid thought really, and it starts me wondering if every setlist at the festival has some unique tie-in with cell phone service.

It starts out small: free pictures of you and your friends (in front of a giant cell phone) provided by AT&T; free drinks if you stop by the kiosk and hear about the new phone service; and then before you know it, Jack White is dressed up as a cell phone and forced to play his guitar while advertising. It's a form of slavery really. Small enough even that the little acts don't realize what's happening, until crouching around Thom Yorke back at the van park they start to hear the horror stories. There was that one time when every appearing band was paid only in rollover minutes (small print in the contract), and then in order to salvage their careers after such an unprofitable tour, they were forced to sell their songs for television ads. It happens all too often, but the companies are always trying to hush it up.

On that note, maybe you feel like purchasing some new music? I know I enjoy being a consumer whore after hearing about how other people are being screwed over (even if the story is completely fabricated). I wouldn't put it past AT&T, but at this point I have no story except that they seem to now be in the business of "delivering" live music to the masses. Something about this situation does not bode well for the future, at least in my mind. Even the wording, "delivery" is icky. Why would you need such a huge company to just deliver something? Still, the Lollapalooza lineup isn't completely trashed. There's a nice mix of big and small names performing at the three day festival.

The Postelles, for instance, are one of a couple of bands who have only released extended plays. Their music sounds very 1950s early rock 'n' roll, then you start listening to their lyrics and you notice that they have more in common with the tongue in cheek of the Ramones (who were also big fans of 1950s rock 'n' roll) than with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. "Boy's Best Friend" is about a case of mistaken sexual orientation, and it makes it clear that you can no longer assume that guys like girls and girls like guys, and that if you do...well...it can lead to emotional complications. "Mr. Used to Be" is about a boy who "used to be" on top, but now is basically being ignored. "Blue Room" is a song of reassurance, unfortunately lacking in much weight. "Stella", on the other hand, is a perfectly romantic and understated song. It's an upbeat lullaby of love, outfitted with a little guitar break to banish monotony. Not that this song could be considered monotonous for a minute. It's a completely accessible and fitting song for Summer escapades and adventures. "Hey Little Sister" is a little whiny, and I find my mind drifting away from the music and thinking about other things. "White Night" moves in the opposite direction. It's captivating, and sounds like surf rock. Yet again there's a guitar solo, and the vocals stay away from whining and are closer to pleading pitch (a subtle difference that saves the ears). The eponymous extended play has high and low points. About half of the album really rocks, and the other half falls short of even really rolling, but there's definitely hope for the Postelles. Maybe Lollapalooza will be their place to shine. Who knows, maybe AT&T will offer them a commercial deal and they won't have to barter for food with rollover minutes. It could happen.

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