Friday, February 25, 2011

The Black Keys with Florence and The Machine at Summerfest 2011



The Black Keys will headline an evening of alternative music on July 6, during the Summerfest 2011 season. Three bands make up this night of music that caters to non-country music fans. Okay, I'm sure that there are a few people that like both styles. Opening for The Black Keys will be Florence + The Machine and Cage the Elephant. Am I the only one who noticed that all three bands have three words in their name? Is that part of what makes a great alternative band name?

The Black Keys crushed it on SNL a while back. I'm a fan of drummers who use the floor toms in place of a high hat. Yes, their drummer plays a high hat, but in their more popular song Howlin' For You, he hits those toms with power.

Florence and the Machine is really all about "Florence." She's a voice, and the band is secondary. The UK likes her, and she's trying her best to make a splash here in the US. Let's put aside the fact that SPIN thinks she should be Artist of The Year, after she hit one million album sales. Her following here is growing, but I must admit that she sounds a lot like so many others. At times she's a carbon copy of Melody Gardot. Still, she's only begun to tour in the past few years, so I don't want to write her off completely.

As I visualize her performance on the massive Marcus Amphitheater stage, before the sun goes down, with people coming and going, I don't really think it's going to work. Put her voice on a movie soundtrack and it fits. Put her in front of 30,000 seats (half of them empty,) and it may be a long night. The Summerfest openers don't get the same respect as the headline acts, and her voice may not have the power to suck in the fans that are waiting for the Black Keys to hit the stage.

6 comments:

Angelene said...

Excuse me, but that remark about Florence + The Machine is riduculous. Obviously you've never seen her perform live. She will knock everyone's socks off!

Ms. Pacman said...

Angelene you are right. I have never seen her play live, but I did run through a number of Youtube videos, and I have been to the Marcus Amp. about 30 times in the past 10 years. What I fear is that the audience will be milling about while she plays. That, coupled with the fact that most opening bands don't get the same level of volume, and it's still being light out, can make it tough on an opening act. Not to compare, but when Bauhaus opened for Trent Reznor they were victims of what I just mentioned. Thanks for your comment!

wiscobee said...

As a small market, Milwaukee needs to get better at staying in touch with the pulse of indie music that the larger cities are embracing. How often does summerfest pull in music acts that are grammy nominated with performances at the grammy's and oscar's? Other larger musicians such as Jayz, Elton John, and Kanye are some of Florence's biggest supporters. The Milwaukee music scene had better learn to embrace new singers rather than the same old pop artists.

Ms. Pacman said...

We are independent of Summerfest Inc., so I can say this without worry. Summerfest could certainly try their hand at booking more indie bands, but I'm afraid that the festival is not about emerging artists, once we get past 6pm. What do I mean by that? If you look at the bands that are booked for the headline spots, they are usually bands on a major label, or bands that have been around for decades. These bands are solid revenue generators. Indie bands bring young, open minded people to the fest, but they may not buy as much beer. This post about Flo has generated a few comments, and that's great, but to be clear, I was writing about a personal observation on both Flo as an artist, and the demographic makeup of the people who attend Summerfest. The Black Keys as a headline act is as about as "indie" as Summerfest is willing to get. I applaud that booking. As for Flo, I just wrote what I felt. Thanks for the comments! P.S. The Black Keys and Flo are not on an indie label. They are signed to one of the biggest in the business, UMG.

TiffSter said...

excuse me, but, i was there & you are completely wrong. yes, the seats were COMPLETLY EMPTY because EVERYONE was out of their seats, STANDING, SINGING, & giving Florence & the Machine their FULL & UNDIVIDED ATTENTION!!!! they were given more attention than the headlining band the Black Keys.

Ms. Pacman said...

Hey TiffSter, my post was all about what I thought was going to happen. If that did not happen, then I'm happy for everyone that went to the show. If you truly read my original post, I worried that her show wouldn't work with the venue, and I applied the basic "opening band at the Marcus" theory that has proven to be true so many other times. The opening act does not get the props. People mill about; the sound isn't dialed in so well, etc. From the AVclub review, it seems that the place was at its fullest during the Black Keys, but that review does also mention that Florence had a great crowd too. In fact, if you read that same AV club review, you will find that Cage the Elephant played in front of a half full venue, and their sound was horrible. That's what happens to opening most acts. Flo got a break, and I'm happy for you and her other fans!