Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 19, 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.


J. Freedom du Lac: Dog days of summer. So, what's up?


I went to Camden!: to see Radiohead, for my replacement show.

Great show, well worth the wait.

For anyone complaining about getting to Nissan: Not only do you have to drive by abject poverty and abandoned warehouses to get to the Susquehanna Bank Center, the venue is literally next to a dump.

And now the Radiohead/Nissan debacle is closed.

J. Freedom du Lac: Can you actually close a debacle?

Certainly, this isn't the end of the debate. Radiohead fans love to argue. Exhibit A: The Hold Steady v Radiohead.


Washington, D.C.: Best three albums of 2008 are....

J. Freedom du Lac: James McMurtry's "Just Us Kids," Erykah Badu's "New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)" and either "Fleet Foxes" or Bon Iver's "For Emma, Forever Ago." Though I really, really like the new Ra Riot album. And Ashton Shepherd. And James Hunter's "The Hard Way." Among others.


San Jose, Calif.: I heard that Fishbone was going to be on CSI. How does that work?

J. Freedom du Lac: New CSI theme: "U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi."



oh, wait, that's just producer david.

J. Freedom du Lac: Just wait until we post that picture of him being mistaken for Joe Jonas. The expression on that little girl's face is priceless.


Anonymous: Help me out. Is it "The Jonas Brothers" like "The Everly Brothers" or is it just "Jonas Brothers" like "Eagles"?

J. Freedom du Lac: Technically, just "Jonas Brothers." But that looks/sounds strange (see the cut-and-paste from their Web site, below). So I gave them a "the." They'll thank me later, when they've grown up.

For Jonas Brothers, the last year has been all whirlwind, all the time. ... If anything, Jonas Brothers have embodied the calm within the storm. ... As they prove on their new Hollywood Records CD, "A Little Bit Longer," Jonas Brothers have grown exponentially as songwriters, musicians and recording artists. ... Considering the impact Jonas Brothers have had on music and culture recently, maybe it's not so amazing. In the past 12 months, Jonas Brothers made headlines and created hysteria with sold out concerts from coast to coast; the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles was the fastest sold out show in the venue's history. Jonas Brothers also sold out 3 shows at New York's Madison Square Garden.



Obligatory Drive-By Truckers plug, with Hold Steady content: Just wanted to mention that the Hold Steady will be touring with the DBTs.

You're welcome.

J. Freedom du Lac: And they're not coming to DC, are they?

Based on the number of backwards baseball caps at the latest Hold Steady show here, plus the demographic of the DBT fan base, Producer Jonas has declared these dates The Shows Where You Are Least To Find A New Girlfriend.


Rockville, Md.: Is STP gonna do anything soon? I heard of them getting together again.

J. Freedom du Lac: You're late, dude.


Washington, D.C.: J Free, Were you at Springsteen last night in Richmond? Amazing three hour performance. Broke out 'Crush on You' for the first time since 1980. Nice small-sized arena, but with bad acoustics.

J. Freedom du Lac: I was not, no.

Klimek reports that Bruce and the boys also took some requests, via signs with song titles on them. Sounds like a fun show.


Anonymous: Will the Post be sending anyone to the Dave Stewart concert this September? (That's Dave Stewart, the other half of Eurythmics.)

J. Freedom du Lac: Whew - for a second there, I thought you were trying to tell me that the dominant A's pitcher from the late 80s was performing here. I was at the Oakland Coliseum when Stew drop-kicked Pat Corrales, the then-Indians manager who was charging the mound for some reason.

Dave Stewart, the musician, canceled his tour, didn't he? Yesterday's post from his MySpace:

"Unfortunately, I have cancelled my tour dates due to unforeseen circumstances. In lieu of the larger tour, my band and I will be performing at venues in select cities. The new dates and venues will be announced at a later date. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused anyone."

Is Washington one of those "select cities"?


Brooklyn, N.Y.: What's the worst band name you've ever come across? Several years ago I once saw a listing in Time Out for a band called The Diarrhea of Anne Frank. Can you top that?

J. Freedom du Lac: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

The Fat Chick From Wilson Philips?


Jonas Brothers v. NKOTB: I'm really confused. How do Jonas Brothers differ from The New Kids on the Block? Or Menudo? Or the Village People?

J. Freedom du Lac: They co-write their own songs (some of which are pretty good by the way). They can play instruments. They weren't brought together by some Svengali down in Florida. They don't dress up as the cop, the construction worker, etc. They don't turn over their membership every few years.


What happened to rock gods? : J. Free, whatever happened to rock stars who looked like, you know, ROCK STARS? Hair, looks, clothes, the package. Now, every guy in every British band looks exactly alike, to the point that I don't know how they remember what band they're in. And it used to be said that sloppy, geeky guys in bands looked like rock critics (you know it's true). The guys in bands like The Hold Steady, Drive-By Truckers and the rest look like rock critic's older, fatter brothers. Where are the young rock gods?

J. Freedom du Lac: Get yourself to a Hinder show. They definitely dress - and act - the part, if you're into that sort of thing.


Jonas Brothers: As an old fogy, I first heard about the Jonas Brothers from your hilarious column about the flaming you received from emotionally injured pre-teen girls. The next day I was in New York, walking past the Trump Hotel on Columbus Circle. There were swarms of pre-teen girls holding signs, some of which were excoriating Joe Jonas. Do you have any idea why this might be? Now that I have them on my radar, I need to know the whole scoop!

J. Freedom du Lac: Tough puppy love? Maybe they were Taylor Swift fans who were ... well, I don't know why they'd be mad. But maybe it had something to do with this?
That would be quite the teen summit, wouldn't it? (As you probably know, I like what Taylor's doing - and would probably be a big, big fan if I happened to be a 16-year-old girl.)


Baltimore, Md.: Doesn't Radiohead win by default because Craig Finn's voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard?

J. Freedom du Lac: Different strokes...


Fairfax, Va.: Dave Stewart deserved to win a Cy Young one of those years he pitched in Oakland, J Free. Clemens and freakin' Bob Welch robbed him!

J. Freedom du Lac: Welch won 27 games. Cy Young voters like wins. That's why Lincecum won't get it this year, even though he's making a pretty strong case for himself.


From J. Freedom's older, fatter brother: Hey!

J. Freedom du Lac: Older? Check.

Fatter? Only if you count his 'fro.


Reston, Va.: Bad Band names - John Cougar Concentration Camp

J. Freedom du Lac: Yep.


Finn v. Yorke: Hold Steady v. Radiohead? Apples and oranges. Chill out, everyone (including Tad Kubler), and enjoy both bands for what they're worth. No reason to choose sides. If Springsteen and Pink Floyd could coexist in the '70s and '80s, then so can these bands.

J. Freedom du Lac: What fun would it be if we couldn't argue about these things? We'd have nothing to talk about at the bar. Besides fantasy baseball and politics, anyway.


Arlington, Va.: Maybe the recognizable rock star thing is cyclical. I'm old (46) and remember the great Rolling Stone cover when I was just starting college of the "Faceless Bands." They had head shots of all the members of the crap bands that were dominating radio then, the horrible Arena Rock era. I think it was Foreigner, Journey, Styx, and I can't remember the rest. They had no names with the photos. Almost everyone was totally anonymous. Gee, and you wonder why college radio exploded then and started the whole "Modern Rock" era.

Please let it happen again!

J. Freedom du Lac: But a lot of the alt-rock stars were even more faceless than the poof-metal "dudes" they were replacing. I think Gene Simmons is still complaining about guys on stage who look like they just got off the swing shift at the gas station.


Hinder: I recall a review I read of the last Hinder album saying something to the effect of: "This is not music for those who enjoy music, this is music for those who enjoy high-fiving one another." It's not clever-to-the-point-of-being-incomprehensible for Pitchfork, maybe it was the Onion AV Club.

J. Freedom du Lac: Great observations - both theirs, and yours.

I'm guessing the writer of that review wasn't behind this.


Arlington, Va.: So the Bromance tour (THS/DBT) isn't coming to DC? Who will the backward cap wearing kids turn to as they shout/sing along to their favorite songs?

Can we get a ruling from Producer David, or is he too busy running away from all the teenage girls? Good job managing to get "teenage girls" into a question about THS/DBT. Those two usually don't compute. It's going to be a sad fall for the backward cap wearers. Hopefully they got their fill at Eddie Vedder this weekend. Man, there were some real bozos at that show on Saturday night.


Roanoke, Va.: I think it is EXTREMELY shallow of you to criticise and trashmouth Kevin Jonas like you did. Just because you may not be a fan of the Jonas Brothers or Kevin Jonas in general, gives you NO RIGHT WHAT-SO-EVER to say negative things about Kevin. That is your opinion and your job is not to voice your opinion, your job is to report stories. This article was biased and extremely rude. I suggest that in the future, you do not say ANYTHING bad in any way about ANY of the Jonas Brothers, or you will feel the wrath of some of the most dedicated fans on the planet. I hope that you have learned a lesson from this that you just DONT MESS WITH THE JONAS BROTHERS OR THEIR FANS!!!!!! I THINK A PUBLIC APOLOGY IS IN ORDER!!!! Imagine how you made people feel by writing this article....I REALLY think that a published and written apology is required here and it should be a sincere apology too.... DONT MESS WITH THE JONAS BROTHERS!!!!!!!!!

Okay, okay. I'm sorry ... that I didn't think of it sooner.
Really, I was just doing some observational reportage, trying to capture the prevailing sentiments among the JoBro fans. I stand by my observations.
Joe = hot one.

Nick = cute one.
Kevin = the other one, the afterthought, the third wheel.
Not the worst place in the world to be, though. It worked for Ringo!


WestBerkeleyFlats, Calif.: Remember how Dave Stewart used to absolutely own Clemens in the post-season? He should get in the Hall of Fame before roid-rage-Roger.

J. Freedom du Lac: Stew was absolutely dominant. If only he'd been able to pitch at that level for several more years...


Arlington, Va.: When an artist cancels a tour because of "unforeseen circumstances," does that mean he didn't foresee weak ticket sales?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, quite often it does. I think they sometimes blame production or visa delays, too - though that wouldn't work for Stewart, since I believe he's based in California now.


Richmond, Va.: Two thoughts: James McMurtry (is he this year's Josh Ritter?). Better album lyrically is Childish Things-- if you like Just Our Kids, you'll love Childish Things---Was at the Springsteen Show last night--- no Patti -- therefore no bathroom break like in D.C.--- Three tour premieres including the aforementioned Crush on You (according to Bruce last night, the worst song they ever recorded) it was kinda fun watching the band talk to each other about how to play the song --- BUT--- on to my point--- more annoying than talking concert goer behind me--- is amateur photog in front with the cell phone constantly taking bad photos of Bruce from 120 feet away and then looking at each one. If this practice continues, I see dead people.

J. Freedom du Lac: "Childish Things" is, indeed, great. I like McMurtry's "singing" on this album a little bit better, though.
More annoying than an amateur photog with a cellphone camera: Security guards shining flashlights in people's faces at the Eddie Vedder show whenever they attempt to take a picture. The flashlights kept finding the faces of innocent bystanders. Boy, that was annoying. Seriously, what's somebody going to do with a crappy phone photo of Eddie Vedder on stage? Sell it?


Richmond Springsteen concert: I was in the pit, close to the stage. Horrible acoustics, but it sure was fun to be at! I can't wait to hear what it actually sounded like when the bootleg comes out.

J. Freedom du Lac: Do a venue's acoustics play into the board mix at all? They don't, right? So bootlegs off the boards could be anywhere?


Atlanta, Ga.: I went to see the Silver Beats last week, and from the stage Fake John related about how they were expecting to play with Chuck Berry, but 2 hours before the show Chuck Berry dismissed them with words to the effect of, "I ain't gonna play with no Japanese band."

But Fake John was really really excited about having met Dave Grohl.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, Chuck derailed it. A shame, really. I was looking forward to the pairing so much that I made Chuck with the Silver Beats the #1 overall pick in our pre-festival assignment draft. (I didn't draft particularly well, as I made a trade to pick up Malitz's #1 pick, Lil Wayne - who came on stage 40 minutes late, and then wasn't very good for the first 30 or so minutes of his set.)


Definition and Job Title: Uh, not to interrupt the quite impressive rant by "Roanoke, VA" including very restrained use of ALL CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!, but aren't you a "Music Critic" who, by definition, is supposed to give your "opinion?"

Man, what a hoot it is to provoke the Tween market and the even worse parents of the Tween market. Get your pre-packaged cute crap out of the "music" world. I saw music last night at the Springsteen show. They actually played and sung. What an idea. And the taking of requests was amazing, I think he truly was trying to stump his own band, but it could not be done.

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, referring to the Jonases as hot one/cute one/other one probably isn't really in the dictionary definition of "music critic." (Plus, the story was a feature, and it's always difficult/awkward to figure out how exactly to wear the feature-writing hat over the critic's hat.) But I see where you're coming from.


Baltimore, Md.: Oakland As/Eddie Vedder crossover: Read your review of the Vedder concert and the folks who kept yelling things. So I thought you should know that, in the mid 70s, I used to go up to Memorial Stadium with a friend of mine whenever the As were in town. Of course, the Os and As were two of the great teams of the 70s. But my friend had gone to high school in San Diego with As catcher Dave Duncan, so he enjoyed pounding down a number of beers and screaming, "Dave, Dave, it's me, John, from (Can't remember name of high school)." As we always sat in lower box seats on the third base side, I am sure Duncan heard every one of those ridiculous screams as he worked the plate.

J. Freedom du Lac: And to tie this post to this Post? One of my dear friends who now writes for The Washington Post Magazine grew up in the same hood as Duncan's family and knew the kids, Shelley and Chris, long before they reached the majors.


Brian Setzer: I was in Costa Mesa, CA a few weeks ago and stayed at the same hotel as Brian Setzer. He was in town with the Stray Cats for a show. Apparently they are pretty crazy for them over in Europe. Two observations while I drank with him at the bar:

1. He had a beer, a wine, and whiskey at the same time in front of him. How rock n roll.

2. He had a bodyguard. Who knew?

J. Freedom du Lac: The proper lineup would have been one bourbon, one scotch, one beer. But still, that's pretty good.
Seriously, though - a bodyguard?


Seattle, Wash.: "That is your opinion and your job is not to voice your opinion, your job is to report stories." Actually, as a rock critic, isn't a good chunk of your job actually based on you expressing your opinion? I would assume that is where the "critic" part comes from.

J. Freedom du Lac: See above.

But yeah. My favorite emails are always from people who take issue with an album or concert review and tell me that I really need to be more objective.



Vienna, Va.: Can you explain to me why Kid Rock is considered a "star"? What exactly justifies his continued music career? He's a second-rate hack, putting out a bunch of junk that's more often than not a blatant ripoff of far superior musicians. The surviving members of Skynyrd should sue his a-- off for his latest abomination, "All Summer Long" (or something). I don't get it.

J. Freedom du Lac: Because lots of people keep buying what he's selling.

I lost interest when he gave up his rapping career to become a rockerdude, which apparently happened after he put out his first album - the one with "Yo-Da-Lin In The Valley" on it.


Worst Band Names: Adolf Hitler and the Final Solution. Blechh.

J. Freedom du Lac: Huh.


Bethesda, Md.: Saw Los Lobos at Wolf Trap last week, and they were fantastic. Just wanted to give some dap to an underappreciated band that's been rocking for 35 years.

J. Freedom du Lac: One of America's finest, actually. Much love for Los Lobos on this chat.


Speaking of Bruce and bootlegs: J. Free, why doesn't the Boss take advantage of this Internets thing and finally break down and release a bunch of bootleg tracks, especially cover songs? That's one of the best things about going to see him live and if you go to YouTube you can find dozens of great ones. C'mon, clean 'em up a little, dump 'em on iTunes and donate the money to charity somehow. I'm ready.

J. Freedom du Lac: It's a Jon Landau thing. You wouldn't understand.
Actually, I'm not sure what the answer is. I'm just guessing that Landau is somehow standing in the way.


Undisclosed Locati ON: In highschool I was in a band called spontaneous abortion. We were not hired to play at the prom.

J. Freedom du Lac: Go figure.


Critics as Objective: No, you don't need to be objective, you need to be consistent and predictable. That way, people can more easily figure out whether to buy something or to avoid it.

J. Freedom du Lac: Predictability is overrated. I'd much rather hear Malitz say that he loves a particular Jonas Brothers song ("BB Good," for instance) than hear him say that he likes Double Dagger, a band he's probably seen 56 times this year.


Washington, D.C.: Chuck Berry blew it: I am sure Berry had his usual ragtag pickup band at VFest. The Silver Beats undoubtedly knew his whole song catalog cold and could have given him the support he needed.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, he sure did. The performance was fine, but it wasn't special.


Herndon, Va.: It's a sad good-bye to Isaac Hayes, who was still making great music, and Jerry Wexler, working at 91 - trying to get out the film of Aretha's "Amazing Grace" session from the 70s. Each was a master in his own way.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, indeed. Wexler was a cool dude with a great feel for music. It's just too bad some of those Atlantic-affiliated artists got seriously jobbed during his reign with Ahmet.
Issac Hayes was truly unique. Terrific musician - and the only person who has ever started snoring in the middle of an interview with me. Seriously. He fell asleep on the phone. Insisted it wasn't anything I'd said or done - he was just tired from doing a morning-drive radio show.


930 club: Are you seriously letting some 11 year old from East Jesus dictate that you can't criticize some utterly crap band?

Preteens don't know jack about music.

J. Freedom du Lac: To the first: Nope.
To the second: I'd rather they listen to the Jonas Brothers than some of the other stuff that's being marketed to that demo.


Nashville, Tenn.: Chuck Berry is one angry, angry dude. For a guy who wrote such funny songs, he doesn't seem to have much of a sense of humor.

J. Freedom du Lac: He has his moments. But I think more than anything now, he wants his money. If you were in his shoes, you probably would, too.


Vox Populi: "...hear Malitz say that he loves a particular Jonas Brothers song ("BB Good," for instance) than hear him say that he likes Double Dagger, a band he's probably seen 56 times this year."

I think it is EXTREMELY shallow of you to trashmouth Producer Dave like you did. You are SO RUDE to be mean to Dave, just because he likes COOL stuff unlike you, you don't even have a REAL NAME!! I think you should say you are SORRY RIGHT NOW

J. Freedom du Lac: Very funny.
(For the record, I only apologize to Malitz when, like, he loses Ian Kinsler for the season in his AL league.)


San Francisco, Calif.: According to Pollstar, Kenny Rogers at the Warfield in April! Yay or nay?

J. Freedom du Lac: Given the theme today, do you mean the country singer or the crotchety old Detroit Tigers pitcher?


Bowie, Md.: The ladies of the Reliable Source column began an item last week about the unauthorized use of a song with the phrase "Rocker Jackson Browne". Are they going to issue a retraction?

J. Freedom du Lac: They should! That's almost like calling Jack Johnson a hard-rocker.


Faceless Again: I found a copy of the article on some Styx fan's website (who knew Styx fans could work the Interwebs?). The bands were REO, Journey, Foreigner, Styx, and Rush. Here is the opening: ------------ By Steve Pond


Okay, so this is all hypothetical. Foreigner and REO didn't swap bass players, and Styx is not about to deal its drummer to Journey. But assume, for a minute, that such a scenario was possible. What effect would such a wholesale reorganization have on the fans who've made these four bands so popular?

None. None at all.

Those bands-along with their platinum colleague Rush and dozens of contenders such as Loverboy, Triumph and Red Rider - would be singularly unaffected by baseball-style trades, simply because they're part of a movement that sells more records than any of the newer waves: faceless bands.

Between them, the five top groups in this category - REO, Journey, Foreigner, Styx and Rush - captured three of the four top slots in ROLLING STONE's year-end album charts. Foreigner and Journey, the two bands that didn't place as high in the twelve-month roundup, both recently spent some time at Number One. But while their fans undoubtedly know the names and faces of front men like REO's Kevin Cronin, Rush's Geddy Lee and Journey's Steve Perry, there's not a true rock super star in the bunch. --------------

J. Freedom du Lac: Excellent. (And sorry if we just violated some sort of copyright law. Won't do it again. Really.)


The Shows Where You Are Least To Find A New Girlfriend : I thought that was Wilco.

J. Freedom du Lac: Hey, Amy Argetsinger digs Wilco.


Objective: I don't even know what that means in this context. It all seems so existential.

J. Freedom du Lac: It does. I think I need to sign off now so I can scratch my chin while pondering the very meaning of the word. (Well, that and listening to Jessica Simpson's country album.)

Thanks for stopping by, as always.


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