Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hang on, which one is the headliner?

So, as I was trawling the web this morning, trying to figure out if I could pre-order Rose Hill Drive's forthcoming third album Americana, I noticed that they had announced some dates supporting Stone Temple Pilots.

Don't get me wrong, I like Stone Temple Pilots.  I saw them earlier this year, and they were surprisingly good, better than I expected.  And of course they'll be headlining - they're the successful, big-name band.  But if I was to actually choose which of the two I would personally RATHER have as headliner, it would be Rose Hill Drive.  To me, their music - hard rock, occasionally bluesy, nods to the 70's greats whilst still maintaining their own unique sound - has a lot more to offer.  They can do incredibly tight, catchy singalong rockers, like Sneak Out or rambling, 7-minute jams like Reptilian Blues that showcase their considerable musical ability.  As much as I enjoy STP, they never really progressed beyond the verse-chorus-verse 4 minute grunge track.

This got me thinking about other shows I've gone to - or contemplated going to - where the acts were in the wrong order, at least in my opinion.

Slayer and Megadeth did a double-headline tour in 2009.  Of the headliners, Megadeth played first, then Slayer.  I've always thought Slayer are a little over-rated.  They have their moments, but for the most part it seems to me that their popularity is due at least in part to them being a bit controversial - a la Marilyn Manson, if I'm going to pick an extreme example.  If I had to rank the Big 4, they sure wouldn't be in the top two.  In contrast, Megadeth have consistently produced great material across their career (yes, I'm overlooking Risk) and haven't relied on controversy to sell records.  They probably got a bit of a kick-start from Dave Mustaine's background with Metallica, sure, but this is a band that gave us Rust in Peace, that gave us Peace Sells... But Who's Buying... and now 20 years on are producing some of the best material of their career - 2009's Endgame was a stunner.

Again, a lot of it is personal preference, but I'd rather Megadeth had top billing.  The Big 4 shows (oh please, come down under) have had their line up in this order: Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica.  It's hard to suggest that Anthrax shouldn't start and Metallica shouldn't finish, but I still rate Megadeth as superior to Slayer.

Heaven and Hell toured New Zealand back in 2007 - this is the Sabbath line-up that featured Ronnie James Dio on vocals.  I didn't go, although I wish I had now.  Not being a huge Sabbath fan, my thinking at the time was that I would much rather have had the support band, Down, play their own show (I wasn't arguing with H&H's right to headline!).  In hindsight this turned out to be a poor, poor decision - I missed the opportunity to see one of metal's great vocalists before his passing last year.  My logic was that seeing Down play only a short supporting set would be frustrating as hell - they're still on my bucket list.  Even that turned out to be dumb too - Sevendust were (and kinda still are) on my bucketlist, but I was happy seeing them put on an utterly dominating six-song set at Soundwave earlier this year.

And there are other examples too - not from New Zealand but from around the world.  Pearl Jam supported U2, I think.  Muse also supported U2.  Both of those bands are considerably better than U2.

I should also give an honourable mention to the Heavy Metal Ninjas who supported Shihad last year.  No way should they have been headliners, but it was one of the rare instances where, whilst listening to a support band, I've actually thought 'these guys are pretty fucking cool', and not 'for fuck's sake when are they going to finish'.

This is probably where this list ends for me, though.  The reality is that 95% of support bands I've seen sucked.  I'm not gonna lie about that.  The list of local bands that are actually decent enough to support a big international act is pretty short: Shihad, Supergroove, Head Like A Hole, Beastwars.  I'd actually love for more bands to do what the Foo Fighters are doing and bring a decent supporting band with them - in this case Tenacious D.


Dave said...

I went to the Disturbed gig earlier this year, thanks to some tickets won from Frontier Touring. Trivium totally blew them off the stage.

I'd never been a big Disturbed fan. Their music is too samey for my tastes, and I'm not overly fond of David Draiman's vocal style. But I went to the gig half expecting to walk out a converted fan. That didn't happen.

I did, however, walk out a converted These Four Walls fan (the first support band on the slot). Those fellas were excellent.

m0rph3us said...

Ah yeah, sounds like a classic case in point! Disturbed are fairly samey so I can see the opportunity for them to be upstaged.