City Desk

Yesterday’s Concert: Pfft.

I was appalled by the concert yesterday, which I was fortunate enough not to experience in person–my boss called me back inside to type up posts from Jule Banville, who was in the thick of things by one of the Jumbotrons. So I listened on NPR. The lineup was so boomer-oriented! It was creepy, like your parents offering to try pot with you your first time, because they'd been through the Summer of Love and could be good spirit guides. Gens X and Y may have been the engine of the Obama campaign, but it didn't take long for the People Who Remember Vietnam to remind us this was their dream first, even to the point of hauling out poor old Pete Seeger for one more round of "This Land Is Your Land."

I don't mind hearing about art from Ashley Judd or sacrifice from Jack Black or citizenship from Marisa Tomei. You take Hollywood money, that's the price I guess, and it's relatively innocuous. But when Bono gave a shoutout Joe Biden it was almost too perfect–a boomer rock star calling out an archetypical boomer politician. This dream, Bono announced, was the American dream. But it was also the Irish dream. And the Israeli dream. And the Palestinian dream. And so on, till the dream's significance had become so diffuse it was really more a notion, a goal, or a New Year's resolution.

After the third or fourth old white rich singer performed with gospel singers–a slam-dunk signifier of soul to boomers, who gave us gospel brunches in addition to herpes, Billy Joel, and all-star jams at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame–I just had to wonder how the music would have been different had Hillary Clinton been elected instead. Maybe Fleetwood Mac, I guess. But really the only thing missing was Sting and his fucking lute.

Photo by David Katz/Presidential Inaugural Committee

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  • Gina V

    But Country Joe was awesome!

  • Gen Y

    Because, you know, heaven forbid City Paper would ever like anything ever.

  • MS

    Nicely put. The Boomers are still trying to suck up the last of everything.
    The mass marketing of Obama is just as tiring. A sad commentary that Americans can only elect intelligence when it is packaged like an American Idol show or Star Search.

    I guess we should "let the good times roll" if indeed there are any to be had.

  • Nancy H

    The program was middle of the road and designed to appeal to a mass audience. As a result, all kinds of people are cranky today over the lack of hip hop, go-go, etc. Get over it. I was down at the Memorial and the mood was upbeat and fun.

  • just sayin

    So I'm not the only one who felt that way...It seemed too much like another over-produced awards show, totally canned and sterile.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    I don't speak for City Paper, Gen Y, just my own damn self. I am sure there are folks here who enjoyed the show.

  • MS

    Totally canned because that is what Obama is. Being a Clintonian appears "revolutionary" only because Bush was such an asshole. Obama may do great things, but until he does, he I simply an advertisement, polished and sold to those hungry for "change" and "hope".

  • Dave

    Bono is a boomer? That's news to me. What is the cut-off for boomerhood? It used to be anyone born after Hiroshima and before (or at) Woodstock. Now it's anyone born after Pearl Harbor and before Jimmy Carter. The whole concept of boomerdom is bankrupt, imho.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Not sure about Bono. But James Taylor, Bruce, Garth, etc. are. I was wondering: the Eagles must be so pissed they didn't get asked to perform!

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Cutoff is 1964; Bono was born in 1960. I should mention that U2 is my favorite band of all time. Ask Cherkis--he'll vouch for how appalling my taste in music is. I like Garth and James Taylor, too. Doesn't mean the concert wasn't an icky boomer power play.

  • curm

    I think the "boomer" cutoff is earlier. Plenty of folks born in 1960 were in punk or new wave bands, and that is not considered boomer music. Performers Beyonce and Shakira and Usher are younger (but somehow you didn't notice that) but none of the rock performers were under 40. Bettye Lavette is no youngster but she sounded great in her duet with uh, Jon Bon Jovi, on "A Change is Gonna Come."

    My big problem with the show was the stage layout. Either to make HBO happy or to make the Secret Service happy, the performers were hidden behind an on-stage jumbotron so even if you were a crazy person who got there at 8:30 a.m. you still had to rely on the jumbotrons. Plus, despite realizing that people would be there early and waiting, all they had for pre-show entertainment was a few sporadic videos. While Jason Cherkis should be happy to hear they showed a Wilco "What Light" one, that was unfortunately counterbalanced by Lenny Kravitz and Josh Groban ones.

  • Gen Y

    Well, um, *Obama* is a boomer. (Born in 1961.)

  • curm

    I was born in 1961 and according to google some historians say the 'boomer' birth era ends at 1960 (while others say 1964). I don't consider myself a boomer and I bet Obama does not either.

  • http://notionscapital.com Mike Licht

    Garth Brooks does Sam Cooke; Renée Fleming trills Rodgers & Hammerstein.

    Too bad they cut Peter Seeger's Guns n' Roses tribute.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Well if you Googled it, that's it settled, then. As to other points your reply, curm, I don't think it's a question of taste--as I noted, I like many of the artists who played. But I think the lineup, plus Obama's Clinton-heavy cabinet, sends a message that's surprisingly off-key for an organization that rarely hit a clanger during the general campaign. And as to your comment that "somehow [I] didn't notice" the younger acts--hey dude, read my twitter feed!--they did not interfere with the overall tone of the show in my opinion.

  • Dave

    If we're going by the most literal definition of baby boomer, then a boomer is someone who was born during the spike in the birth rate after WWII. That would be in the late 40s/early 50s. If you're born in the late 50s/early 60s or afterwards, a boomer you are not.
    But as for Andrew's main point, yes the concert was lame. What do you expect from a Presidentially-approved show at the base of the Lincoln Mem'l? I don't think an uber-subversive act like Negativland, Billy Bragg, RATM, et. al. would go over too well in that setting in front of that crowd.

  • Jim Slattery

    It was an awesome concert. Mary J. Blige was great. Garth Brooks a baby boomer? Come on. His "Shout" was a lot of fun. And Pete Seeger was great! You should spend less time trying to be so freakin' clever and more time sitting back and enjoying something.

  • Adams Morgan

    Oh give me a break. The City Paper gets more irrelevant with each passing week.

  • Jim Slattery

    oh and before everyone chimes in to say it wasn't HIS "Shout," I know that, perhaps I should have said, his COVEE of "Shout."

  • Jana

    Andrew,
    Don't forget that the "boomer" generation covers over a 15 year period. Not all "boomers" were born early enough to enjoy the "richness" you are accusing us of. Some of us still work to even pay the utility bill. But most of us still have hope that democracy of the people, for the people and by the people will work. I think we have a better chance now than if we had another republican in office. Not only that, a pep rally is always a good way to raise hopes and bring the team to a unified front. The future is going to be difficult. There will be hard times ahead and a good cheerleader is necessary to make the sacrifices easier to swallow. Let's hope you wake up and smell the shit you are throwing soon.

  • Dawn

    I couldn't help but wonder if this concert could have been put together 10 years ago. John Mellancamp? It didn't strike me as very forward thinking. Or much of a change for that matter.

  • Terry Moran

    1.Herpes had been around a long time before the Boomers finally talked about it and tried to do something about it. 2. Billy Joel can still write and play the pants off anyone from Generation X and after. 3. Your cynical condescension is symptomatic of an entire generation of wretched, pseudo-journalists. You assume that you're entitled to have an educated insight about an event other people actually attended because you "listened (to it) on NPR". Thankfully, you also have the unwitting arrogance to reveal that you were "fortunate enough not to experience (it) in person". How pathetic.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com/citydesk Mike Riggs

    @22: Are you the Terry Moran? Because that would be awesome if the Terry Moran--the one and only Terry "Fish-face" Moran--was so offended by a little ole City Desk post that he stomped all the way down to our comment board and let Andrew have what for!

    Also, who knew that Terry Moran was such a huge dick? Not me!

  • Dave

    I guess there's just no accounting for taste.

  • curm

    I saw Aretha Franklin with a 120 person gospel choir at the Kennedy Center tonight in the special annual Martin Luther King show. Now that's a boomer who when she wants to, can still turn it on. A very touching, moving show.

    I will take her over Garth and James Taylor. Wasn't the lack of under 40 rock acts on the Lincoln Memorial bill in part due to the producers of the program (George Stevens, Jr. (The Kennedy Center Honors), and Don Mischer (Olympic Ceremonies), and partly due to narrow commercial rock radio and video programming if popularity still had to be accounted for. I think Daughtry would have been just as dull.

  • Terry Moran

    Mike - No, I'm not THAT Terry Moran. But your choice of metaphor betrays your penis-envy.

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