DARK NIGHT, WARM HEARTS
The members of Cincinnati-bred/Brooklyn-based Indie rockers The National (pictured) did their part to help Obama become president last year with a big concert on Fountain Square, and the band’s Bryce Dessner organizes the popular annual Indie/ Chamber music MusicNow festival in his hometown each year (it returns to Memorial Hall March 11-12 with headliners Kronos Quartet). The local boys done good have done good again, this time by putting together a major CD compilation featuring some of the biggest names in the Indie world. Dark Was the Night is the latest CD in the “Red Hot” series, which has been raising money for AIDS research and awareness for 20 years now with a variety of high-profile “various artist” collections. Curated by Bryce and his twin brother Aaron, the two-disc/three-vinyl set — due in stores this Tuesday — includes tracks from a lineup of artists that would make the best Pitchfork music festival ever, including Arcade Fire, Beirut, Bon Iver, David Byrne, Cat Power, The Decemberists, Feist, Iron & Wine, Jose Gonzalez, Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch, My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst, Spoon, Sufjan Stevens, Gillian Welch and Yo La Tengo.
LIPS LOCKED OUT OF INDIA
When visiting other cultures around the world, it’s probably best to do a little research on what is considered taboo. In some cases, cultural insensitivity could get you killed — if you are a woman, you probably shouldn’t sport a micro-mini and high heels and roam the streets of Baghdad, for example. In India a couple of years ago, Richard Gere jokingly kissed (on the cheek) Indian actress Shilpa Shetty at a press conference. The incident was considered incredibly offensive; mobs burned effigies of Gere and one city’s courts even issued warrants for both actors’ arrest. So one has to wonder what Punk band The Black Lips were thinking when they recently toured India. During a show that was presented by the Indian equivalent of American Idol, the Lips’ members made out on stage, mooned the crowd and played their instruments with their cocks (show offs!). The band not only got kicked out of the country but also got the entire TV series’ season cancelled. The band’s press agents seem giddy about the mass of press the band has received around the world, but in post-Bush America, maybe it’s best for our artists to slowly work their way up to full-frontal. Like homosexual air-kisses and that crudest of hand gestures — the right index finger through the left-handed “a-OK” sign.
TICKET MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE
Ticket companies aren’t the most popular businesses in the music world right now. The latest outrage is the alleged practice of bignamed ticketers holding tickets back from day-of sales, only to turn around and sell them at marked-up prices once the concert has sold out. When tickets for Bruce Spingsteen’s tour recently went on sale, fans waiting for tickets on Ticketmaster’s Web site who couldn’t get them were directed to the company’s own “resale” site and told they could still buy tickets, but for at least $100 more than face value. Public officials have called for an investigation, while Ticketmaster’s CEO apologized and said the re-direct wouldn’t happen again. The alleged bait-and-switch scheme has also shined a light on a potential merger between Ticketmaster and promoters Live Nation (which owns tons of concert venues and represents many major artists), which many say would give one company an unfair lock on the concert industry. If they keep going like this, they’ll be a lock for some of that sweet bailout money Congress has been doling out.