Vol. 3, Issue #19 Oct. 10th - Oct. 23rd, 2008

Tiger Bear From Hell at NONzine.com

By: Wilhelm Murg

What Defines a Rock Dinosaur?

We all know the old definition of a rock’n’roll dinosaur; it was the one hit, hairy metal band playing at the car show or the fallen legends appearing at the state fair. I remember Roy Orbison playing a club in Tulsa right before his resurgence with the film “Blue Velvet,” where tickets where an unheard of $35 (this is early 1980s money!) The joke was that Orbison wanted to see what it was like to play in front of a bunch of rich oil men.

Now ticket prices are soaring so high that even rich oil men are having to pick and choose where they go for a nights’ entertainment and the venues are harder and harder to pinpoint as dinosaur graveyards. A couple of the last few concerts I went to are prime examples; Ted Nugent for $40 at The Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino and Lindsey Buckingham, for a whopping $65, at The Brady Theatre. I passed up Tom Waits at Cain’s Ballroom for $75. Arguably, all three are past their primes, but this is some serious money flying around, never mind tickets for the Eagles at the new Bank of Oklahoma Center going for hundreds on eBay.

Traditionally. dinosaurs were bands that, even if they had a loyal following, everyone pretty much assumed they would never put out anything to compare with their early classics. Often these bands were disabled by their personnel jumping ship, such as Kansas when Kerry Livgren left the band. Others, like Flock of Seagulls, simply shot their wad (and played to less than ten people when they performed in Tulsa earlier this century).

Let’s start with Uncle Ted. Ted is a great example of someone I disagree with on almost everything politically, but his music is embedded in my psyche. In the 1970s it seemed like every concert commercial on KMOD ended with the line “and special guest…(dramatically lower the voice)…Ted Nugent.” If you didn’t see Ted Nugent perform in Tulsa in the 1970s obviously weren’t going to concerts in Tulsa in the 1970s. So my lawyer wanted me to go with him for the concert. Sure, why not? When we got to the casino we soon discovered tickets were $40, not the $30 we thought they were. Okay, we were there already, so we went in. The place was packed and the area was bigger than The Cain’s. This is washed up? Ted didn’t bother to do anything new, and no Damn Yankees, it was just his old classics from the late 1970s and early 1980s. He ended the show by putting on some bogus headdress and shooting an arrow into his guitar, which exploded into fire. I know the Osage Chief, Jim Gray, has been very big on slamming Native American stereotypes, but I guess if such a situation can bring a couple of thousand people to his casino he can live with it.

As a musical entity, Ted is an oldies act for all intent and purpose. The one point where he lost half the audience was with a new song about hunting while running video of himself killing innocent animals on the big screens, but other than that one song he was in compete command of his audience. He’s really become a cult figure, like the Grateful Dead in their last years.

Lindsey Buckingham, of Fleetwood Mac, was a little more problematic. While Buckingham is not an oldies act, his audience treats him like one. I became intrigued earlier this year when I saw him perform a whole show on DirecTV. His 2006 album “Under The Skin,” is not only an amazing document by one of the most talented guitarists of his generation, it is also on Reprise records, the same label that released the last masterpieces of Fleetwood Mac, “Fleetwood Mac,” “Rumors,” and “Tusk,” not some godforsaken little label trying to market dinosaur rock.

With his brand new album, “Gift of Screws,” it is obvious that Buckingham is still making valid and interesting music, but at the concert the audience seemed to only pay attention to his renditions of Fleetwood Mac covers and his early solo hits. He had them eating out of his hands with “Go Your Own Way” and “Tusk,” but as soon as he announce that the next song was from his new album, the whole auditorium would empty as people went out to get another drink or have a cigarette. His second finale was a new song, and one of his most interesting guitar virtuoso pieces, “Time Precious Time.” People were being trampled as the audience ran for their cars.

I guess the best way to put this is perspective is that Kenny Loggins played The Osage Casino for $30, and I have no idea of how much it cost to see Morris Day and The Time. With Metallica, AC/DC, and Nine Inch Nails all coming to the BOK Center, with stout ticket prices, maybe the concept of the rock dinosaur groups are over. If you can survive long enough you become “classic.”

Unfortunately, with the world economy going into the gutter, I would be surprised if ticket prices don’t top off soon. Kansas at the State fair in great, but I’m not sure I would pay $60 to see them live, and they’re one of the dinosaur groups that I still defend.

Once these bands die off will there be something to replace them? Will the MySpace and YouTube generation have world tours someday? Or is Dane Cook just fluke? And is anyone going to see Cheech & Chong on their current tour? I could sure use ride! Some things just get better with age.

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