• Gary Suarez

SUMMER OF LOVELike the dark clouds that anticipate derechos, an ominous tenebrous atmosphere has loomed over this scene. Metalheads awaken red-eyed nearly every day to more miserable news seemingly personalized just for them, from the arrests of Randy Blythe and Jef “Wrest” Whitehead to the hospitalizations of Children Of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho and Royal Thunder’s Josh Coleman, not to mention just about everyone in Baroness. Theft has been a common occurrence, from Animals As Leaders’ gear to God Forbid guitarist Doc Coyle’s stuff. Even metal’s aging patriarchs can’t seem to catch a break, what with Ministry’s Al Jourgensen collapsing in Paris and Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman vanishing into thin air (temporarily). And let’s not forget Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante’s domestic disputes taking an ugly public turn.

Violence has crept its way into summer’s concert events too, at Summer Slaughter, the CBGBs Fest, and even a Tenacious D show. Less grave though certainly disappointing, a number of anticipated metal package tours have completely fallen apart, not the least of which being the Dethklok / Lamb Of God / Gojira jaunt. Matt Pike needing to enter rehab almost seems like a blessing in light of all this.

As August creeps its unbearably humid way out, our Summer Of Love draws nearer to its close with one of the most odious of events: the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

Though I could seethe and spit venom about practically everything related to what’s going down in Tampa this week, I’ll channel my disdain for one of the lesser villains of this: the musicians. That’s right, you probably think these nominating conventions are all about bloviating orators, quaintly self-serious delegates, and red-white-n-blue confetti, but sure enough the wretched attendees demand to be entertained on top of it all. Some journalists have given in to their inner perverts to draw connecting lines between Tampa’s seedy strip clubs and the arriving scores of star-spangled Family Values proponents, many of whom will conceivably seek to have their Pro-Life priapisms grinded upon by the town’s liberated strippers. But never mind that lascivious side story, folks, because Kid Rock is playing a fucking gig for these Medicaid-loathing gasbags.

In addition to the “Bawitdaba” songsmith, the scheduled RNC cash-in conspirators include such rockers as Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Blues Traveler, Dave Navarro, Matt Sorum, and 3 Doors Down. (Southern rock die-hards Lynyrd Skynyrd were bumped after fears of Hurricane Issac prompted a move to a truncated convention schedule.) Oh and cash in they most certainly will! Journey were apparently paid half a million dollars — yes, mathematicians, that’s $500,000 — to play a 90-minute set at a fundraiser this Thursday. Ted Nugent must be pretty miffed having to miss out on the big conservative bucks due to scheduling conflicts or busted knees or whatever.

Some of the performers are ideologically aligned with the GOP, while others seem like freaky ass strange bedfellows. Libertine Dave Navarro sticks out like a sore thumb, and even though Kid Rock has publicly endorsed Mitt Romney, it strikes me as unusual that the party and the campaign would return the favor given his very family-unfriendly lyrics, arrest record, and sex tape. Given the foam-mouthed conservative uproars over having comedian Louis C.K. perform at the White House Radio & TV Correspondents Dinner (he pulled out) and Obama merely letting rapper Common into the White House at all, you’d think Romney or his aides would have the good sense to politely distance themselves from the guy who stole Pam Anderson away from Tommy Lee. But shit, we’ve seen the levels of sexual depravity and hypocrisy today’s Republican party is capable of, so there you go.

There’s nothing wrong with a band playing a private event — until there is. In recent years, pop stars like Beyonce and Mariah Carey were castigated by conservatives for performing at such events in front of America’s enemies. In their minds, no exception was made for these artists to cash a lucrative check — the Republican free market dream — if it meant providing comfort to our global political and ideological rivals. To these folks, simply singing that goddamned “Single Ladies” song to Muammar Gaddafi’s son was an endorsement of terrorism and Libyan human rights abuses. Surely by that logic, the rockers playing the biggest quadrennial Republican event around are at least tacitly endorsing the regressive anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-poor platform of the 2012 Republican Party. If that comparison makes you shift uncomfortably in your seat, that’s the point, buddy.

Summer’s almost over. Go get a tan or something.


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