Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 12, 2008; 2:00 PM

Washington Post music critic J. Freedom du Lac is online every Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET to talk about the latest on the music scene: alternative, country, alt-country, pop, hyphy, harp-rock, reggae, reggaeton, R and B and whatever it is that Clay Aiken does.

The transcript follows.

____________________ ONE, TWO, THREEEEEE!; The Jonas Brothers Are Taking the Kiddie-Pop Market by Wailstorm

_______________________ Pimlico Special; At Virgin Fest, a Crowded Field Competes for Fans' Divided Attention

_______________________ Perfect 10: Best Of the Virgin Performers

_______________________ Blog: Post Rock


J. Freedom du Lac: Hello, chatpeople.

Came up with a brilliant idea this morning: Book the Jonas Brothers for next year's Virgin Mobile Festival! Just think of the marketing possibilities if you had a celibate band of brothers headlining Virgin Fest. Purity rings to the first 12,000 fans 12 and under!

So ... did you go to the festival this year? Highlights? Lowlights? Crabs? Apercus?

Let's shall.


RE: Virgin Festival: You commented on the Silver Beats but how was Chuck Berry?

J. Freedom du Lac: Blog post on Chuck here.


Silver Spring, Md.: Do you think Underworld has one last U.S. tour in them? Or are they getting a bit too old for that sort of thing?

I regret not going to the Festival, now, but all things being equal... I'd rather see/hear one of my favorite acts do a full set than a partial.

J. Freedom du Lac: They performed for two hours. And it. Was. In. Cre. Di. Ble.

Friend of Freedom/Post Rock Leafblower called it one of the greatest performances he'd ever attended, in any genre.

Apparently they had a tough day, too - some technical/production glitches, an AC failure in their trailer, etc. But they really brought the heat in the dance tent.


gimme a bre, AK: Lil JF: were you ever an accomplished break dancer???

J. Freedom du Lac: Accomplished? No.

I was better at strutting, though I was no Boogaloo Shrimp.


Nikelbak: Somewhere in the Hampton Roads area is a black Ford Focus with the vanity plates "Nikelbak".

If you see them, feel free to hit them with your car-, which I was unable to do while sitting in traffic on Saturday. Trust me, they deserve it.

(- Action not sanctioned by The Washington Post Company)

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh?

(Don't try this at home, kids - or even in the heavy metal parking lot.)


Radford, Va.: Are you aware of the order Counting Crows and Maroon 5 will go on stage this weekend at Nissan Pavilion? The times they go on stage as well?

J. Freedom du Lac: I am not.



Silver Spring, Md.: J. Free: Thanks for the depressing Jonas Brothers article. No, I'm not a hater, I don't really care one way or the other. I'm depressed because my first thought upon seeing their picture was "those boys need a hair cut". Yes...I'm becoming my father. Sucks, man. I hate you for making me feel old.

J. Freedom du Lac: You win today's "Hey, Kids, Get Off My Lawn!" award.


Who loves the sun?: Yo J. So while you were watching the Foo Fighters perform for the umpteenth time in the area on Saturday I was watching Radiohead give a brilliant performance at the All Points West festival in New Jersey. The best part? No torrential downpours. Jealous?

J. Freedom du Lac: No, not really. Because during most of the 8-to-10pm slot that night, I was listening to Underworld absolutely destroy the dance tent. One of the highlights of the weekend, for sure. (On the other hand, I did have to venture out to see Jack Johnson. Zzzzzzzzzz.) Malitz was on Foo duty, though I did see him in the dance tent a couple of times - mostly while Grohl was doing his frontdude-as-stand-up-comic thing.

Also, I got to catch the brilliant acoustic-metal instrumentalists Rodrigo y Gabriela, one great song out of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (their set-ending cover of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World"), a great three-song sequence by Soulwax and a hugely enjoyable set by the Silver Beats, who really did provide the first great galvanizing moment of the festival.

Oh, and if I cared about these things ... my beer lines would have been shorter than yours. And I could have consumed more than 5 during the 10-hour period. (Did they really do that at APW, or was somebody just making that up?)


Rockville, Md.: J. Free: so how dreary was it to go directly from covering the Virgin Fest to reporting on the Jonas Brothers?

J. Freedom du Lac: Not dreary at all.

Writing about the Jonas Brothers was pretty fun, actually. And you know what? I kind of like their music.

There, I said it.

Seriously, though: If they weren't wholesome-image-having teen idols in the Disney stable, I suspect more people outside of that 6-to-18-yr-old female demo would like their music, too. Not sure I'd go so far as to call them the power-pop messiahs, as Jody Rosen did in Rolling Stone. But he wasn't all THAT far off.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to all the angry emails from Kevin Jonas fans.


Silver Spring, Md.: It's not too soon to start listing 2009's likely headliners, is it?

How about Beck, Death Cab, A Tribe Called Quest, Jane's Addiction and Neil Young?

J. Freedom du Lac: Some good ideas here.

I'd love to see Seth and Co. bring Green Day in for a headlining slot. New album will be out between now and then - could happen.


Post Jonas: J. Free, are your ears still ringing? And does it last longer than say 2 days of a Virgin fest?

J. Freedom du Lac: I stupidly forgot to bring earplugs. Thankfully, though, the press rep found a pair for me to wear during the show.

Didn't help me before the show, though. Lots of squealing outside the arena and, of course, at the meet and greet.


Louisville, Ky.: Music is my life.

I also like submitting comments to interweb forums.

J. Freedom du Lac: You've come to the right place.


Re: Underworld: Didn't go. Listened to "Everything, Everything" instead.

Might not have been the same thing... but if you blink really fast, it makes for a neat-o strobe light effect. And if you concentrate, you can taste colors!

J. Freedom du Lac: As Soulwax says: "That's the E talking."


McLean, Va.: Hi J. - Can you tell us a bit more about Chuck Berry's "streamlined" performance? Thanks.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'll refer you to that same blog post.


L' Enfant Plaza, D.C.: From the epitome of commercialized muzak, the Jonas Brothers, to the heights of what commercial music can reach, V Fest, in one week. Quite a swing. What a treat on Sunday, going from NIN's incredible stage show and aggression to Kanye being, well, Kanye. Well worth the bucks. I hope they can bring an even more eclectic lineup next year, and no Lil Wayne keeping us trapped in the so for 30 minutes.

J. Freedom du Lac: Commercialized muzak? You mean like the Offspring? At least the adults who like that band are old enough to know better.

Kanye (or, as his name was spelled in the program, "Kayne") flat-out killed it. What a rock star. I really liked what I heard from NIN, though as I left that stage, they were starting to do some instrumentals that pulled the energy level way, way down. Sounded great, though (what a mix!).

Lil Wayne, I want those 38 minutes back! He was lousy at the start of the set, but I thought things really picked up near the end. Sent a serious charge through the crowd when Kanye came out for "Lollipop."


C. Finn (Minneapolis): Malitz hasn't written anything about me in minutes... what gives!?!

J. Freedom du Lac: It's only Tuesday.


Washington, D.C.: How does the Post decide which new albums to review? So far as I can tell, it is the only major daily newspaper not to weigh in on Randy Newman's first studio album in 9 years, Harps and Angels. The fact that I sent this question to you (but who else is there?) may be part of the problem. After all, Randy Newman is not exactly a rock star; he's simply iconic. And so (in this reviewer's opinion) is Harps and Angels.

J. Freedom du Lac: We use science, polling data, coin flips, tea leaves and darts.

We'll write about him and the album before year's end. He's coming to Strathmore on Sept. 24, ya know. I believe it's just him and his piano - and he's apparently front-loading the set with material from the new album, which one of the Associated Press writers, Steven Wine, says "may be the best album of 2008." (He must not've heard that James McMurtry CD.)


L' Enfant Plaza, D.C.: Green Day at VM-fest? Hmm, I like your thinking. Given that they've done a couple of IMP shows around here in the past including that insane show at Merriweather back in 2005 it seems likely. Then again, they might burn the plastic backed stage down.

J. Freedom du Lac: It could happen, right?

Metallica, too.


20009: Is there going to be a review of the sold-out Rancid show last night at 930? It was off the wall, their stuff still sounds fresh. Too bad there's not more bands as good and fun as Rancid out there . . .

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, should be in tomorrow's dead tree edition - and online sometime around midnight tonight.


Rockville, Md.: Yuck. I think the Jonas brothers are terrible. And this is coming from someone who has bought a Hanson album in the past (not MMMBop), can mindlessly sing along to a Backstreet Boys song and thinks its a toss up who was 'better' on "So You Think You Can Dance" Lady GaGa (TERRIBLE) or the Jonas Brothers (Blech). I get why a lot of boy bands are popular during their reigns, but the Jonas bros, barely pass the test--their talent is highly questionable, their stage presence shallow and their attempt at googly-eyed camera seduction is gross. Guess you can't make them go away huh?

J. Freedom du Lac: One vote against the JoBros...


J. Freedom du Lac: This just in:

devon sent the following message:

omg. i cant freaking belive the WASHINGTON POST! would write something like that about the amazing, gorgeous,and talented kevin jonas.

i thought you guys would be way higher than all of that crap.

if it werent for kevin, there would be NO JONAS BROTHERS.

they are an amazing band and all three are just as talented and gorgeous as the next.

i hope you enjoy all of the hatemail.


Jonas Brothers?: So they're the ones who do that awful cover of the Beatles song in the Target commercial. How is that people feel compelled to say that they are good?

J. Freedom du Lac: They also cover Shania Twain in concert.

But yeah, they're actually a pretty good little guitar-pop band. Just don't make the Target commercial and the treacly piano ballad about Nick's diabetes the only things you hear of theirs. Otherwise, you will almost definitely be dismissive.


Washington, D.C.: Enough about V-Fest. Are you going to see Thao Nguyen at the Black Cat on Thursday?

J. Freedom du Lac: Probably not. Love that album a whole lot, and enjoyed seeing her at the Black Cat Backstage earlier this year. But THS are at the 9:30 that night.


Bethesda, Md.: Aw, Free, I know you enjoy the hate mail. See? It's not just us Claymates.

So could we pretty-please go back to talking about whatever it is Constatine Maroulis does? I kinda miss that. -sniff-

J. Freedom du Lac: No. But I have Bo Bice on deck tomorrow. I'm going to ask him some obscure Sgt. Pepper's questions, since he's doing that Beatles tribute show at Wolf Trap.


B. Dylan (I've Been Everywhere, Man): Malitz hasnlwk dskjklajk qlwkejqejkl, jkasdh?!?

J. Freedom du Lac: I think you misspelled the third word.


Silver Spring, Md.: Halfway through the chat, and no mention of BRUUUUUUCE doing the Super Bowl halftime show?

No mention of Rolling Stone reconfiguring itself this Fall to a more "standard" magazine size???

What's going on, here? Enough with the Jonas Brothers. More rock, less talk!

Or more talk!

Wait, where was I, again?

J. Freedom du Lac: Is that confirmed, or is it still just that New York Post item that's based on a reservation Little Steven made at a Tampa restaurant during Super Bowl weekend?

If it's true, I think it's fantastic. Love the idea of Bruce and the ESB doing the show. He and Prince are really 1 and 1a (or 1a and 1). Creates a partial vacuum with the mouth to be the band that's booked the year after the Bruce-Petty-Prince, though.


A Jonas Kind of Chat: "Just don't make the Target commercial and the treacly piano ballad about Nick's diabetes the only things you hear of theirs"

Also, don't be overly bothered by Joe's trying to channel Axl Rose's spoiled me-first rock-star schtick in the first 30 minutes of his otherwise splendid star turn in "Camp Rock".

Not that I've given this much thought or anything...

J. Freedom du Lac: As actors, they're no Demi Lovato.

One thing that did crack me up about the Jonases: The boys cite Johnny Cash, Prince and Elvis Costello as three of their biggest influences. I don't hear it. Sounds more like they listened to the Knack, the Romantics and Badfinger.


re: JoBros: Not only do they need a haircut, but they need to take a tweezer to those eyebrows.

Just sayin'.

J. Freedom du Lac: Styling by Dukakis?


St. Mary's City, Md.: Although I'm only 40, I must be ancient in pop music terms, since I had never heard of the Jonas Brothers until last week. I bear the group itself no malice, but I'm troubled by how much Disney has perfected the assembly-line concept of music.

I suppose I could be accused of hypocrisy since I love Motown, which was a factory just like Disney, down to the charm-school grooming of the performers. But I also point out that Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder achieved their greatest artistic heights when they established their independence from the factory. Similarly, the Beatles truly blossomed artistically when Brian Epstein was no longer controlling their careers.

Obviously I'm not comparing the Disney performers to those greats. My question is, how would we know if any of those teens have the potential for artistic growth if their careers are controlled so thoroughly by the Disney suits? And how would the teens realize this themselves? How would they learn that what's best for Disney's bottom line may not be what's best for them personally and artistically?

J. Freedom du Lac: Very good point and question.

Honestly, I've no idea what happens to these kids if/when they're ready to do something that the Disney overlords don't want them to do. Should make for an interesting test case, though the JoBros aren't like most of the rest of Disney tween and teen idols (Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff, the "High School Musical" crew) because they were a band before Disney got ahold of them. Less manufactured (and theoretically more self-reliant, if need be) than the rest.

You know what I could see happening? A move into country-rock - something along the lines of the music made by those twangy power balladeers, Rascal Flatts, who record for Disney's Lyric Street label. Always thought those dudes were just a grown-up boy band in country-music clothing.


Severna Park, Md.: I haven't liked a Bob Dylan song since "Brown Eyed Girl."

J. Freedom du Lac: Funny.


Re: Sgt Pepper: An obscure question to Bo Bice re: Sgt Pepper... might I suggest "who are the two lead vocalists on 'A Day in the Life'?"

"Which Beatle, if you were to interpret the album's cover art, was widely rumored to have died?"

"Complete this lyric: 'Lovely Rita, meter (blank)."

J. Freedom du Lac: Outstanding! Stump the "Idol." Should be fun....

I'll publish the results on the blog next week.


Beverly Hills Hotel: No, we're waiting for corroboration from someone other than the National Enquirer staked out at Little Steven's Tampa hotel room that Springsteen is playing the Super Bowl.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm waiting for Obama to text confirmation to me.

Kanye on Sunday: "My mama died/I been through so much drama/I'm voting for Obama.."


Underworld: To crib from Kyle, whom you should link to...

Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy. Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy.Crazy...

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, indeed.

The key post is the one headlined: "Concert Nirvana, Thy Name is Underworld."


Bo Bice : Ask him how it feels to be the backup Idol (Taylor Hicks was booked for the show first). I am curious to know which songs Todd Rundgren and Denny Laine are doing, though.

J. Freedom du Lac: Denny Laine!

Best part of Producer David's interview with the Silver Beats:

He asks "John" if he's ever gotten any feedback from the real Paul or Ringo or Yoko.

"John" says: "Never, never. The Paul guy we have in the band, he met the real Paul. But none of the other three, we've never heard anything from the real ones. We did meet Denny Laine who was the guitarist of Wings. We played with him."

And then Malitz says: "Cool?"



Re: interview with "John": I love that in all the column inches I've seen dedicated to the Silver Beats (here and elsewhere) no one has bothered to list their real names.

J. Freedom du Lac: Why would we do that when we can't even get the names of American artists correct?

Actually, Malitz and I discussed this during the great Silver Beats set on Saturday. We had their real names, but thought it made more sense to call them John, Paul, Ringo and George.

If we say Eric Mabuchi - how does that help? You have no idea who or what we're talking about.


Macon, Ga.: Will the Redeem Team get it done?

J. Freedom du Lac: By get it done do you mean swatting an Angolan dude all the way to Singapore, like LeBron did today (tomorrow?)?



B'more, Md.: Any chance you will take in the Boston concert at Pier 6 tomorrow night?

J. Freedom du Lac: Not even the slightest chance.


RE: The Disney Machine: All good points, but one difference between Disney and Motown is that once the youngest Jonas hits 19 Disney is gonna be done with them, and they will be free to take their pile of dough and try to make their own way. At Motown, Barry Gordy would have probably liked to have kept Marvin Gaye doing the same stuff forever (to his credit, he relented to Marvin's wishes to move in a different direction, but you get my point)...

J. Freedom du Lac: I don't think that's necessarily true. The Disney Channel and Disney Radio might be done with them by that point - but if they still have sales potential, why wouldn't Disney want to keep them on Hollywood or Lyric Street?

Course, I'm not even sure how long their contract with Disney is. They might be free agents by that point, anyway. If they continue to be a touring force (their dad said that the Live Nation deal, which was supposed to take 2.5 years to complete, is actually going to be done after less than a year because they've grown at such an accelerated pace), maybe they'll wind up doing a full-on 360 deal with Live Nation.


No Boston at Pier 6?: But, dude, Styx is opening!

J. Freedom du Lac: Boy, that's really enticing.


8th and I: Thanks for the suggestion, J-Free!

You said that the opener for Gnarls Barkley (Hercules and Love Affair) was worth watching. Boy were they dreadful! From the bizarre dancers to the weird music/performance, I just did not get into them AT ALL. They seem like a real niche band, and man, not my niche at all.

J. Freedom du Lac: Good album, not so good live? Wouldn't be the first time.

How about Gnarls using the album cover as a backdrop? Huh.


RE: a move into country-rock: Like Ricky Nelson!

J. Freedom du Lac: And late-model Bon Jovi. (Jon Bub Jovi?)


Silver Spring, Md.: I like Kanye, but...

Do you think his ego and his persona are constructed for the direct reason of compensating for his weaknesses on the mic?

In other words, do you think he realizes that he's good, and sometimes very good, but never really Rakim-level great? Does he play up the celebrity end intentionally to distract, in your opinion?

J. Freedom du Lac: Not even close to Rakim's level. But I love his outsize ambition and swagger - he's really rap's biggest rock star.


Upcoming Concerts: The concert I'm most looking forward to is actually Paul F. Tompkins in November.

You? Can you even answer, or are you wasted following the weekend?

J. Freedom du Lac: November? I haven't even figured out September yet.

You people and your planning ahead...


Silver Spring, Md.: Was thinking about Sergio Garcia this weekend, being one of the best golfers out there (maybe) never to have won a major, and it got me thinking...

Who is the next band to go stratospheric? To start headlining shows? Especially if said band has been around awhile and simply hasn't reached that height just yet?

J. Freedom du Lac: I can tell you who it won't be: Hollywood Undead.


Bon Geoffi: If they played 2 hours of Queensryche covers.

J. Freedom du Lac: Just when I thought all the good ones had already been thrown out there...

Very nice.

Bon Jonas: Frankie "Bonus" Jonas doing kiddie-rock covers of JBJ songs.


D. Berman (TN): Is it time for Malitz, yet? Where IS that guy?

J. Freedom du Lac: Resting up in anticipation of that Silver Jews show next month at Black Cat.


Bethesda, Md.: Do the Jonas brothers write their owns songs? That is my biggest pet peeve, bands that don't write their own songs.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes.


Springsteen at the Super Bowl: As long as he covers Pearl Jam or something else and doesn't do his own material. Cuz, you know, that's why we waited for Prince.

J. Freedom du Lac: Gotta love Prince's attitude. Dude knows he's so good that it doesn't matter whose songs he performs.


San Diego, Calif.: Hollywood Undead have mothers, too.

J. Freedom du Lac: And really bad Bob Saget rhymes.


My Pet Peeve Too: What about the Silver Beats? Do they write their own songs?

J. Freedom du Lac: Actually, yes - in their spare time. But nobody wants to hear them!


Bethesda, Md.: They don't get co-writing credit for adding one verse after some 40 year old guy writes the song?

J. Freedom du Lac: There are some co-writes, but I believe they're mostly with people from their backing band. It's not like Kara DioGuardi or Sean Garrett or Linda Perry or their ilk are brought in to make hits with them.


Gnarls Barkley Set: I did think that the album backdrop for Gnarls Barkley's show was cheap and unnecessary...but I thought they tore the house down. Sure, "Crazy" was pretty normal, but anybody that has heard their cover of "Reckoner" live is a changed man (or woman). What a song. Thom Yorke would be proud.

J. Freedom du Lac: The "Reckoner" cover was a high point. Didn't think they tore the house down, but it was a fine show. About the perfect set length, too.


Bethesda, Md.: Hold Steady ... opening up for Counting Crows? Wasn't April Fools, like, a few months ago?

J. Freedom du Lac: Not a horrible idea. They might actually pick up some new fans on that tour. Though they're best consumed in smaller settings. Bars, for instance.


Looking at My Watch: This is entering Bill Simmons territory... you realize that, right?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, good point. Time to go to the mail room and attack those bins I've been ignoring.

Thanks for stopping by today, folks.


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