I think the corporate side of Rockfest was beginning to get under our skin when we took the stage at 11:30 this morning. This is the event with Metallica, Kid Rock, Stone Temple Pilots, and Barenaked Ladies — “this summer’s Woodstock” — that took place today at the Chicago Motor Speedway.
The corporate presence was particularly egregious at the event. Between bands there was a giant screen on stage showing Oldsmobile and PlayStation commercials and people dressed as gorillas pumped Oldsmobile t-shirts into the crowd between sets, sending kids into a frenzy clamoring for the free projectile, even though it was just an Oldsmobile t-shirt. When did rock concerts start showing tv commercials? While we play sponsored events sometimes, it seemed exceptional that you had to pay $65 to be treated as a consumer moron and so Ryan got on stage and spoke his mind a bit. He made some sarcastic comments about Oldsmobile and let the crowd know that the concert existed so that sponsors could access their demographic… even the promoters of the event were quoted in the Chicago Tribune as seeing Rockfest as an arena for corporations to advertise first, and a music festival second. Ryan closed the set by screaming “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile!” over and over into the microphone. Metallica’s fans may not have liked our delicate harmonies and wimpy guitars but a lot of people appreciated our message.
And if we were jaded when we took the stage, it’s just plain upsetting now to learn that they refused to pay us today because of what we said up there.
We can live without the five grand. What sucks is feeling that you have to kiss corporate ass to expose your music to people. We could have gone up there and sung a bunch of lyrics about gay-bashing and that would have been fine. That we made fun of Oldsmobile earns us a penalty? Something’s wrong with that. Fortunately incidents like this won’t muzzle us, they only motivate us to stick to our beliefs and to make people aware of what goes on. If you’d like to know just how influential corporations are in this country, you can learn about it at http://www.greenparty.org/ — or for information about the sporty new Oldsmobile Allegra, visit http://www.oldsmobile.com/.
Rockfest. God bless Oldsmobile.
The following was printed in the Chicago Tribune the day before the festival …. “Give them this: the festival organizers are blunt in their aspirations. Rockfest is designed to be ‘a national platform for corporate sponsors to market their products,’ says Brian Murphy, executive producer for New York-based TBA Entertainment Corp., which is promoting the concert with Jam Productions of Chicago.”