Everyone wants to be a success, of course, and rock musicians are no exception. For some, success is an extra dividend that springs from the love of music, while for others it is the goal in itself -- the music is merely a means to an end.
On the basis of their show last night at the Cellar Door (where they will also appear tonight), a new Washington group, Bear, seems to be in the later category. Their performance was a squeaky clean, carefully coordinated catchall of Money Rock cliches. From their casual-hip attire, to their snappy patter, to their brisk, tightly paced sets, they were a manager's delight -- no quirks, or offbeat mannerisms, or any distinguishing characteristics that might spoil their image.
The music was the perfect complement to their presence. Their original songs were all short (just right for single releases) and each was an unobtrusive, airbrushed facsimile of the compositions of other, already "successful," groups. The musicians were not merely derivative, they were more like a band of second-story men.
Bear might actually become successful one day -- originality and taste are not always in demand in the rock industry. But the nagging question must be -- is it worth it?