Friday, February 17, 2012
BDS Update: Another Reason Cat Power Is Better Than GN'R
Seems an obvious statement. The former has a genuine hold on how to write an honest and intricate song without reaching for the bells and whistles or thoughts toward how marketable her sound is. The latter can't even be truthfully called Guns N' Roses anymore. A more accurate moniker might be "the Axl Rose show." But good old Axl refuses to release his delusions of grandeur (they're arguably the only thing keeping him alive at this point), and he knows that the only way for him to maintain a modicum of relevance to to cling to the same GN'R brand. "Sell-out" doesn't begin to describe what he has become.
It can't be so surprising then that they also differ on playing in Israel. Cat, in the weeks leading up to her scheduled gig in Tel Aviv on February 13th, received countless letters and messages urging her to observe the 2005 call for academic and cultural boycott. She listened.
It's not clear if Rose even knows about the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). If he does, he surely doesn't care. It's likely that those in the Israeli concert industry who booked GN'R are quite smug in their accomplishment. As I've argued prior in relation to Madonna's recently announced show in Israel, the push to confirm big-name acts has been redoubled over the past couple concert seasons. Losing big names like Roger Waters, Elvis Costello and Carlos Santana has obviously created something of a potential publicity crisis. Shuki Weiss and other concert moguls like him have been very conscious to make up for it.
According to Haaretz, the newspaper that broke the story, this is Guns N' Roses' first show in Israel since 1993. The paper also called that show "legendary," though it doesn't say why. It also points out that a lot has changed in the near 20 years since then--namely the whittling of original members down to Rose and keyboardist Dizzy Reed.
Which confirms much of the original point. It can't be denied that booking huge acts on the level of GN'R, Madonna, Bieber and such is an obvious propaganda victory for the Israeli concert industry and those bent on maintaining a veneer of cultural normalcy for an apartheid state. That victory needs to be kept in a broader context, though--which is the continual leaking of substance from the mainstream music industry at large. It speaks volumes that Weiss and company can score artists who have willingly joined swallowed the logic of "if it sells, it's good," while the thriving independent music scene increasingly turns its back on them.
Just a reminder to those in the Chicago area: please don't forget to stop by the teach-in I'm conducting on music and politics at Occupy Chicago's HQ tomorrow!