Under The Skin: Springsteen, Jonas and the click-bait culture

Springsteen 2014

I must have been feeling grumpy over the weekend, because it seemed that every music-related web-link that I clicked on managed to boil my piss. Everything from mistake-laden copy to cynical click-bait bullshit had my pulse racing and my hands reaching for a computer like a professional keyboard warrior.

After counting to 10 I usually stepped away from what I perceived to be crass, flimsy and pointlessly spiteful content, but the fact that I’m still thinking about it and writing it all down here proves that it has stuck in my craw.

What was the target of my ire? The full list would be long and tedious, but it ranged from articles full of simple spelling and grammatical errors, through to opinion pieces that seemed to exist for no other reason than to cynically drive traffic to a website without actually adding anything to any given debate, or that sought to spitefully take the piss out of unfortunate individuals who really had no place in the publication in the first place.

There were many examples that I stumbled upon over the weekend, but two from Team Rock illustrate my point.

The first was BP Perry’s piece headlined “Why is Bruce Springsteen punishing his fans for something their politicians did?”, shared across Team Rock’s social media pages with the line “Why Bruce Springsteen cancelling his gig in protest over an anti-LGBT law is not right-on, it’s ridiculous.”

The article stems from Springsteen and his band cancelling a North Carolina show in protest over the US state passing the “HB2” law. As The Boss himself explains on his own website: “HB2 — known officially as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden. To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.”

You could argue – as some people did when I mentioned this to them – that it is legitimate to ask why Springsteen cancelled the show altogether, potentially putting numerous fans out of pocket, rather than going ahead with the gig and speaking out on stage. And you know what? I wouldn’t have felt angry about the article if it had sought to have that dialogue in a constructive manner. As it is, I got no sense that it set out to do that at all.

Quite apart from the fact that all Springteen’s fans who bought tickets to the cancelled gig are getting a refund, just look at the tone and language of the piece: “This knee-jerk reaction to something he doesn’t like makes absolutely no sense. Had Springsteen rocked up to his concert, made a little speech about his opposition to the new law and invited those who didn’t agree with him to leave with a full refund, then fair enough. But no. Bruce decided that the best way to show his displeasure was to say to hell with the whole damn lot of them.”

“That’s to hell with his own audience. His fans. The people who like him so much, they’re willing to pay him quite a substantial amount of money to see the Boss and his band play live. And he’s just given them all the finger because of something their state government has done. He’s pretty much saying his own fans have colluded with their legislators to come up with a law he doesn’t like, and now they must be punished for it.”

What an ill thought through, selfish and cynical crock.

As Springsteen made clear in his statement about the cancellation, “No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden.” Quite.

“…made a little speech about his opposition to the new law…” How patronising.

“Knee-jerk reaction”? Not bloomin’ likely.

Those who pay any proper attention to Springsteen and his work know that he has always been politically engaged. They know that he dresses his politics to the left, and they know that he seeks to support the people of the world who are most in need.

Saying that his fans have colluded with their legislators? Saying to hell with his audience and giving them the finger? Absolute rubbish. This isn’t Springsteen abandoning his audience, this is Springsteen supporting people who are misunderstood, stigmatised and oppressed in ways that other people aren’t. This is Springsteen helping people to have their voice heard, using his celebrity in the way he knows how. This is Springsteen doing what he can to make a difference.

The suggestion that this is anything else comes from a hardened, cynical place; a place that has no awareness of Springsteen and what he stands for; a place that has little care or consideration for minority communities. It’s made that much worse because – let’s not forget – this piece has been published by Team Rock, the outlet which took such a strong stand against Phil Anselmo’s racist behaviour earlier this year, accusing other publications of “editorial weakness” in the process.

I’m calling BS on this article and all pieces like it. I don’t want to read such articles from any publication, Team Rock or otherwise.

The second piece, again published via Team Rock, was an article that sought to ridicule pop star Nick Jonas for playing a poor guitar solo at the Country Music Awards.

My thoughts here are essentially “Who cares?!” Nick Jonas and his music are irrelevant to the world of rock and metal. He is not trying to be part of the rock and metal community. He didn’t get up on stage and tell everyone that he was the best guitar player since Randy Rhoads. He played the solo at THE COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS for goodness sake.

But even if Jonas had been trying to make an impact on the heavy metal scene, why bother writing this waste of everyone’s time? It is essentially nothing more than flimsy piece of spiteful trolling; the worst kind of internet click-bait. All it exists to do is make someone feel bad and others feel better by laughing at them.

No thanks, Team Rock, or any other music publication for that matter. I know you’re better than this. Start showing it.

So, over to you. I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts on this kind of journalism, on the Team Rock pieces specifically and any other such articles that you have comes across whilst browsing. Do you like the kind of articles referenced here? Or would you prefer that music outlets didn’t publish such pieces? Do articles such as these exist because the public genuinely want to read them, or are they published to draw an unsuspecting public in? Get in touch and let me know.

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Sonisphere 2015 shock as event is cancelled


Sonisphere festival organisers have announced that this year’s event has been cancelled.

In a statement revealing the news festival bosses said that they had been unable to sign up a bill that they believed was “good enough.”

The announcement came just before the weekend via the Sonisphere website, with the full statement reading:

“Team Sonisphere reluctantly confirm that Sonisphere will not take place in the UK in 2015. We’ve been working hard to get a lineup that we felt was good enough, but also on a weekend which would avoid other events that we know rock fans would want to support.

“Unfortunately our last irons in the fire have just been extinguished and it’s clear that we won’t be in a position to run the event this year. We’ve said in the past that Sonisphere will only go ahead if we feel it is going to be good enough and that hasn’t changed.

“We hope all rock fans have a great summer with all the festivals and concerts already in the calendar and we plan to see you all in 2016.”

Last year’s event saw headline sets from The Prodigy, Iron Maiden and Metallica.

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Machine Head cancel US tour dates

Machine Head Band Shot

Machine Head have cancelled their imminent US tour in the face of “challenges” associated with their new album, Bloodstone & Diamonds.

The band have said in a statement that the choice was between feeling like they had lowered their standards in the studio, or calling off the shows.

As a result, the group are urging US fans to seek refunds from their ticket retailers, whilst saying that they will re-schedule the dates as soon as they possibly can. They have also confirmed that their European tour dates will go ahead as planned.

Bloodstone & Diamonds has taken longer to complete than expected. We had to make the difficult choice to delay the album, let it go out as incomplete, or cancel the tour. We decided postponing the tour was the best decision,” the statement read.

“We feel this record is a milestone – we have something truly special here. But getting there has been a challenge.”

Bloodstone & Diamonds is set for release on the 10th of November via Nuclear Blast. Machine Head tour the UK with Devil You Know and Darkest Hour in December:

Dec 06th: London Roundhouse
Dec 07th: London Roundhouse
Dec 09th: Portsmouth Guildhall
Dec 10th: Bristol O2 Academy
Dec 11th: Plymouth Pavilions
Dec 13th: Glasgow O2 Academy 2
Dec 14th: Leeds O2 Academy
Dec 16th: Manchester Apollo
Dec 17th: Nottingham Rock City
Dec 18th: Birmingham O2 Academy
Dec 19th: Dublin Academy

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AltFest: bands and fans in disarray as cancellation rumours persist

AltFest 640x360

All the indications are that this year’s inaugural AltFest, the crowdfunded festival promoting alternative culture, has been cancelled.

Rumours went viral when Simon Hall of UK metal band Beholder spoke of the alleged cancellation: “I got confirmation via text message but also spoke with some of the main stage acts and they’ve also been told.”

“We were open to this whole thing and extremely excited about headlining – but it leaves me hollow to think so many fans, traders and support staff will end up losing out.” Beholder were due to headline the Sophie Lancaster Stage.

Marilyn Manson has changed the status of his Facebook gig listings to show his AltFest appearance as “cancelled”, and members of a number of other bands who were scheduled to play say that they have also been told that the event is off.

Tairrie B Murphy of LA metal band My Ruin took to the band’s Facebook page yesterday saying: “Our agent has been trying to get a confirmation on whether these rumors are true or not from the festival organizers but has had no response.”

“Trust us, we hope this is NOT true because we know so many of you have plans to see My Ruin at this event and we do not want to disappoint our friends and fans… Please rest assured that we will NOT be cancelling the rest of our tour. We are still planning to rock the rest of the dates and OUR SHOWS WILL GO ON AS PLANNED come hell or high water!”

Rob Ferguson, a promoter at Transcend Music who had several of his artists due to play at the festival, tweeted yesterday: “Well, what a surprise. Alt-Fest is no more. I feel extremely sorry for all those who will undoubtedly lose money. Bad times.”

AltFest was due to take place in just over two weeks time between August the 15th – 17th in Kettering, UK, billing itself as “the international celebration of alternative music, art and culture.” The event raised £61,762 via a KickStarter campaign last year, but it is now believed that organisers failed to raise the rest of the funds needed to cover costs.

A number of band reps have been reporting that their expected advances have still not been paid, but so far there has been no official word from the festival team. As late as yesterday, when rumours about the festival’s collapse were in overdrive, AltFest’s Facebook page was still being updated with news about coach travel packages for fans from Wales.

Over 170 artists and traders had been booked for the event. It is not currently known what will happen regarding refunds for fans who have already paid for tickets.

Watch this space.

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Rob Zombie expresses sorrow over shortened show

Rob Zombie 640x360

Rob Zombie has released a statement apologising for his shortened set at Wisconsin’s Rock Fest last weekend.

Fans reacted angrily across the web after Zombie stopped his show and walked off after just two songs saying: “There’s no way I can do this. I’m sorry. It’s fucking bullshit, I know, but that’s what happens. What can we do? It’s my fault.”

In a more complete explanation, Zombie said via his new statement: “I’m very sorry to everyone who was at Rock Fest. Believe it or not, this is the first time in 29 years I have not been able to finish a show.”

“I understand people are pissed – but what can you do? It’s easy to say, ‘Man up and just do it,’ but when no sound is coming out there’s nothing you can do. If you’ve ever lost your voice you know it doesn’t magically return just because you want it to.”

“If there was a way to do the show I’d have done it, as I have many times before. I’ve done shows where I walked to the side of the stage between songs to vomit, I was so sick.”

The musician is adamant that he’s not looking for sympathy, but rather: “”As far as everyone yelling, ‘I’ve been a fan for 20 years and now I fucking hate you, you pussy rock star!’ What can I say? Shitty stuff happens sometimes. I tried explaining before I left the stage, but I could barely croak out a word.”

“We’re trying to figure out a time and place to make it up to everybody,” he continued. “I don’t take the fans for granted and I don’t take this situation lightly. My goal is to never let the fans down – but on that night I did. Unfortunately, I had no choice.”

Watch this space for future updates.

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