I wanted to do a quick weigh-in on my favorite Super Bowl ad. Without a doubt, it was Bruce Springsteen's advertisement for America that aired during halftime. By the end of his four-song medley, he had encapsulated all that is good about America: guacamole binges, flagrant rock maneuvers that end with a crotch crashing into a camera lens, ejaculatory fireworks, and even — this was the best part, for sure — a shout out to Disneyland! By the time the commercial wrapped up, I was off to buy an American flag, a bigger TV (recession be damned!) and Bruce Springsteen's new album. Now that is effective advertising!
A musical pet peeve of mine was illustrated the other night at the local haunt Valentine's, where a free show took place. The second band embodied what I'll call the "bassist wanted" phenomenon, which consists of a band made up of disparately styled members whose only commonality is that they all answered the same ad on Craigslist. The singer was fresh off a hitchhike from Vermont. Imagine Ben and Jerry plus that other Jerry (of the Garcia variety) all rolled into one. He was wearing pants that may or may not be called "Jams," which are made of the same fabric as your mom's kitchen towels. Roll those pants up to air out the calves, add a pair of sports socks, a T-shirt with the neck cut out, and a white knit hat that he'd borrowed from an ex-girlfriend and you get the idea. The drummer, on the other hand, was longhaired, wiry and in an Iron Maiden T-shirt. Despite the fact that the venue is the size of my living room, he beat the s—- out of his drums during the line check, an act that wasn't about illustrating his technical prowess so much as proving that he was capable of so much more than the Hootie-esque songs we were about to hear. That's right; he was auditioning. The two women in the band were right out of a musical program at a liberal arts college: a cellist who had only recently weaned herself off of Amy Grant and a keyboard player so spacey that sometimes I wasn't sure she knew the songs had even started. Then there was the electric-guitar player. Jeans around his thighs to show off his boxers, forearms ripped from years of gaming, and a look in his eyes that let me know he owns every Yes record ever made.
So, really, there were four bands on stage that night. Unfortunately, they had squeezed themselves into one. Look, I don't need every group to look like they belong together — like The Beatles, The White Stripes or The Strokes — but stew and slush are two very different things.