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“You bought what?!” – Weird Band Merchandise for Sale

By on Friday, 20th April 2012 at 11:00 am

Last week the titans of thrash, Slayer, announced they are going to release a deathly delight for their legions of fans – wine. Dubbed ‘Reign in Blood’ after their brutalising 1986 album, the Cabernet Sauvignon is the ideal accompaniment for any true metaller’s raw steak with extra blood. And what is more metal than blood-coloured alcohol? Maybe Lemmy‘s whiskey collection, but that’s about it.

Some bands, though, appear to just love putting their name to anything. Instead of forcing fans to take out a mortgage for the chance to see their favourite band at a soulless enormodome, there’s a wealth of branded toys, trinkets and treats for fans everywhere with too much money.

To tie-in with their ‘build a rocket boys!’ album, Elbow teamed up with local Stockport Robinsons Brewery to create their very own beer. Described as a “golden ale with a rich balanced body, smooth bitterness, subtle tang of malt and fruity aroma”, this premium nectar sounds like a delicious addition to any beer aficionado’s collection but don’t listen to Elbow whilst drinking or you might never stop. They’re that bland.

Speaking of bland, one of the most shameful pieces of merch comes from one of the worst bands of all time (personal opinion). Not only do the Killers contribute nothing to modern music at all – other than a rotating festival headliner – they cash in on the gullibility of idiots by selling ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ toothbrushes. Yes, you read that correctly. You can now be reminded of that god-awful song whilst you partake in oral hygiene. Rock on, guys.

But what about when you can’t rock any more? Don’t worry there’s something for you too, it’s a coffin! Actually named the Kiss Kasket, Gene Simmons and co. licensed the sale of a final resting place covered in Kiss logos and pictures of the face-painted funsters. Pantera‘s Dimebag Darrell was actually buried in a Kiss Kasket at his own request. It’s also said to double up as a giant beer cooler for parties: just make sure you know which event you’re attending.

Before death, though, comes life! And we all know how we get life, right kids? But if you plan to practice making babies first, don’t forget to rubber up with your favourite band’s own brand of condom. What could make that moment between you and a loved one more special than by donning Manowar‘s Warrior’s Shield sheath to your, ahem, warrior. [Thanks to Graham Norton, my eyes have been offended by the JLS line of condoms as well. Norton confirms the Aston Merrygold line sells best. – Ed.] But if you’re not into the fantasy power metallers in the bedroom, how about Enter Shikari‘s No Sleep Tonight member jackets? Named after a song that also features the lyric “we can’t quite stomach this”, make of that what you will.

No-one does dirty sexy like the Germans, though. So leave it to industrial enthusiasts Rammstein to create their very own sex toy set. To celebrate the release of their 2009 album ‘Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da’, the Berlin bruisers released a special edition box set that included six dildos, a pair of handcuffs and some lube. Not amusing little dildos you can use as a key ring, we’re talking the real deal. If one of your family members is a Rammstein fan and you think you’ve found the perfect gift for them on eBay, give the description a thorough read before bidding.


The Issue with Reissues

By on Thursday, 8th March 2012 at 11:00 am

Reissue! Repackage! Repackage!
Re-evaluate the songs
Double-pack with a photograph
Extra track, and a tacky badge

“Best of!” “Most of!”
Satiate the need
Slip them into different sleeves!
Buy both, and feel deceived…

(excerpts from the Smiths – ‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’, 1987)

Rather conveniently, the day after Blur performed on the 2012 BRIT Awards last week, we heard the news from the Guardian that producer Stephen Street is in the midst of remastering the Britpop giants’ entire back catalogue for the band’s intention to reissue all of the albums sometime in the future. Of course, reissuing and remastering is not a new idea at all in rock. Let’s take for example two of the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll of all time. Jimmy Page famously went to task on overseeing the remastering Led Zeppelin’s master tapes in order to provide higher fidelity sound quality in the early years of the CD for the ‘Remasters’ release in 1990. The Beatles Anthology released in 1995-1996 were three CD sets that culled supposedly rare early recordings, outtakes and live versions of songs from the Fabs’ musical history. So what’s the issue with reissues?

As you’ve read in perfect clarity at the very top of this article two excerpts from Morrissey’s lyrics in the Smiths’ ‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’, most times the purpose of reissues is crass commercialism. For myself, I know I’ve bought doubles of and/or different versions of albums or unusual and rare singles simply because being a fan, I wanted to have them in my collection. (This explains how I have UK, Australian, Japanese, and Taiwanese versions of albums I already own in US formats and why I am rapidly running out of storage space. Yeah…)

Surely, the only limit to your music shopping habits is your own wallet. I’ve drooled in private at Talking Heads’ ‘Brick’, all eight of the band’s studio albums remastered in Dual-Disc format and available at a price out of my budget, just like I’ve balked at the price for a leather bound, signed copy of George Harrison’s I Me Mine. Luckily, I have some willpower…and definitely some prudence.

But I’m not a completist by any means. So when reissues or remasters are announced, I rarely jump out of my seat, unless there’s something new and really great on the new versions. Do record companies really expect long-time fans of a band to fork over change on an album that already own and know by heart? And they think old skool types who still favours physical releases will buy these in droves? Are they anticipating young people to suddenly think to themselves, “ah yes. Blur. That band in the ‘90s that the bloke who fronts Gorillaz used to be in. I should buy these!”

While I concede that record companies are trying every way possible to combat illegal file-sharing by trying to put out releases like reissues that they think are going to move by the thousands, they appear to be barking up the wrong tree in most of these cases. There is no easy solution to this problem; illegal file-sharing will continue as long as there’s an Internet. But surely there has got to be other creative ways to promote an artist’s work than simply rereleasing something that’s already been out before.

Interestingly enough, Stephen Street also has a hand in the reissue of Morrissey’s first solo album, ‘Viva Hate’, which will be reissued on the 26 of March. Moz has chosen to delete ‘The Ordinary Boys’ and replace it with an outtake from that era, ‘Treat Me Like a Human Being’. Which has already been released as a B-side to ‘Glamorous Glue’ when that single was reissued by EMI last year. Follow all that? Street is not happy about the tracklisting change, but I’m not paying attention to that. I‘m a Morrissey fan and I own ‘Viva Hate’ on CD and vinyl. Will I be buying the reissued version of ‘Viva Hate’? Not likely.


Header photo of Blur’s performance at the 2012 BRITs from Who’s Jack


Madonna and the Pandora’s Box of Age

By on Thursday, 9th February 2012 at 11:00 am

So. What about Madonna? It seems like everyone is talking about her right now. The new video, ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’’ was released last Friday (video below); her Super Bowl performance was on Sunday. Isn’t this the point, to be talked about? While I have a tendency to agree that all press is good press, I am a little disturbed by some of what I am hearing. Maybe it’s just me, but I think Madonna is being held to a different standard based on her age. Despite her electrifying performance at the Super Bowl on Sunday, she was criticised as being no longer relevant and referred to as “Gramadonna”. C’mon now.

“She’s so old” is a common comment. Or “she’s trying too hard.” Even “she should dress/act her age.” Rubbish, I say. Does no-one remember who this is? This is the original Material Girl. Lest we forget, the woman was simulating intercourse on stage before Lady Gaga was even in kindergarten. From her original hit ‘Holiday’ in 1983 to today, she has molded and transformed herself over and over, testing limits for both herself and the public. She’s always looked good doing it: sexy and over the top. Why is it okay for Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., her companions in the ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’’ video, and not okay for her? Even more importantly, why am I hearing these complaints from other women?


Let’s face it, despite the fact that Madonna is 53, she doesn’t look it (and I don’t care if she’s “had help”.) I doubt that she would be getting half the blowback if she had suddenly appeared on the scene looking and behaving as she does, if she were in her twenties. But it’s her age here that is the sticking point. I personally don’t like the oversexualisation of women in the music industry, but hey, I am only a consumer of music, not a tastemaker. I can avoid what I don’t like. Yes, Adele did a stellar job of selling well without a thong in sight. But few do. And frankly, that’s always been Madonna’s M.O. anyway. Why would she change?

So what I want to know is, why are people having such a problem with Madonna being the same outrageous performer she has always been? Her face is still beautiful, her body is still hot and her voice is still holding its own. Why shouldn’t she ply her trade as she always has? In fact, my respect and admiration for Madonna is the only reason I am no longer disgusted with Lady Gaga. I finally realised that she is doing the same thing. Madonna blazed the trail for all the no-holds-barred women we see performing today.


I may not always like the music of Madonna or the women who’ve followed in her footsteps, but I am proud of how Madonna called her own shots, made her own music and created an image that she wanted all throughout her career.

So yes, she is still sexy. Yes, she is still over the top. And yes, she is over 50. Get over it!


The State of Our Music Festivals

By on Wednesday, 17th August 2011 at 11:00 am

Photo by Tom Curtis, of the Victoria Park crowd at Field Day 2011 (a festival that I have been advised by Coco sold out at the very last minute. Maybe its future is rosier because it’s only a 1-day festival? – Ed.)

Given the wall-to-wall BBC coverage of Glastonbury this year, plus Steve Lamacq’s roving festival reporters checking in every Monday from all corners of the UK, you would be forgiven for thinking that all is milk and honey in festival land. But dig a little deeper, and a less rosy picture emerges. Reportedly 31 festivals have been either cancelled or postponed in the UK this year, in sharp contrast to 2010, which was a record year for festival revenue. To hear that tiny beacons of light such as Festinho and Out to Graze dropped off the calendar this year, and to think of the fun simply not being had is sad indeed. The north of England was hit with a particularly disappointing double-whammy when Newcastle’s first ever camping festival, Ignition, was ignominiously cancelled at the last minute over a dispute with the venue, then just a couple of weeks later Beacons festival, due to be held in North Yorkshire with a perfectly-judged lineup including Mercury nominee Ghostpoet, was cancelled on the opening day due to flooding after torrential rain.

Of course the dreadful British summer weather is simply out of the control of man (although Beacons are looking for a new site for 2012: a tacit admission that this year’s venue was a poor choice). But all too often there’s an element of avoidable incompetence somewhere, whether it’s a last-minute dispute with the licencing authorities, over-optimistic estimates of ticket sales, or simply spending too much on the festival itself. Understandably, discretionary purchases like festival tickets are under pressure as confidence in the economy remains flat, but this is hardly news. The danger is that acts will become warier of agreeing to play smaller or younger festivals as they see so many cancelling at the last minute, which can only make it harder and more expensive for the genuinely well-run festivals to book a strong bill, damaging the sector as a whole.

A case in point is Truck Festival, held in South Oxfordshire. Despite being 14 years old, this year there is a sizeable hole in the finances, exacerbated by an unfortunate habit of selling heavily discounted tickets at the last minute – no surprise the punters don’t buy at full price anymore. There are rumours of bands not being paid for their performances – surely the death knell for a once-successful festival. The UK festival curse has now crossed the pond: Truck America was cancelled a month before it was due to be held – maybe the acts didn’t fancy giving their time for free. Previously big players Rothbury (who hosted Bob Dylan in 2009), Monolith and All Points West have been “postponed” since 2009, and show no signs of being resurrected.

The oddly-named Music to Know festival, to be held in the millionaires’ paradise of the Hamptons, New York, was cancelled the week before. In an astonishingly self-regarding press release, the organisers claimed that despite their “unique vision” and “world-class line-up” (note: bands starting before midday and headliners on at 8.30pm is not world-class, it’s junior-class), the event had to be cancelled because of a lack of interest. So despite achieving nothing other than wasting a lot of people’s time and grossly misjudging the size of their market (and this quote is so mind-boggling it deserves to be quoted in full), “We pledge to endure during this difficult time with the same integrity and professionalism displayed throughout the creation of this event [sic].” (Read more on Brooklyn Vegan here.)

Such vanity is undoubtedly commonplace in the fashion-conscious music world, but thankfully some promoters are more pragmatic. When the superb, independent Big Chill festival ran into financial difficulties a couple of years ago, mega-promoters Festival Republic were brought in to stabilise things. Despite a backlash from hardcore fans, and an undeniable lurch towards the mainstream, the underlying ethos of the festival remains, along with its superb location. The pattern of consolidation is a familiar one – in times of economic turbulence, smaller enterprises need to find support, either by huddling together or joining a larger player. This inevitably means some of their original character and independence is lost, but the event lives to fight another year. Fans have to ask themselves, would they rather their favourite mini-fest disappeared completely, or survived at the price of a few more mainstream fizzy lager stalls? All is not lost of course, and there are still plenty of events to choose from; the market was probably near saturation-point this year. However, after a long and exciting upward trend, 2011 may prove to be a turning-point for the festival industry: even with a decent lineup, success isn’t guaranteed. Neither is the weather.


Going Abroad for Music Festivals? A Student’s Perspective

By on Thursday, 21st April 2011 at 11:00 am

(Editor’s note: the graphic above is my attempt to approximate the routes taken by Brits going abroad for music festivals [or conversely, non-Brits coming into Britain for UK festivals]. Obviously it does not include every single music festival across Europe. So apologies if your favourite one is left out!)

Bored of riots at Reading and Leeds every year? Bored of the same bands every year at Sonisphere? Bored of the same complaints about Glasto? So are a lot of people. What are they doing about this, stopping going to festivals all together? Well, let’s not get too drastic. Many people have decided to go abroad for festivals to events like Benicassim (Spain) and Lollapalooza (America).

So what is the appeal of foreign festivals? Well, for starters, British weather is notoriously difficult to predict, and rain often is a blight of British festival-goers. Glastonbury has had 2 rain-free years, something which has been relatively unheard of in Glastonbury’s history, meaning that if Glasto 2011 is rainless, it will be a record since the festival’s inception in 41 years ago. Benicassim organisers have been quick to highlight “the weather in Spain is typically much warmer and more humid than the UK, and it gives makes for an awesome festival with the sun beating down on you.” Hmm.

When you say festivals away from the UK, though, you automatically think Spain, France or the USA. However, I’m here to tell you that you need not go so far for your foreign festival fix. Two festivals which are close to the UK but do require you to cross a stretch of ocean to get too are Jersey Live and The Guernsey Festival of Performing Arts in the Channel Islands. The former is in its fifth year and the latter is in its first. Now, you may be thinking that with the festivals being so young, surely the acts they attract can’t compare to domestic ones?

Well again, you would be wrong. Jersey Live has welcomed Kasabian and the Prodigy in the past and this year is host to Madness and Plan B, while the Guernsey Festival has so far booked Ocean Colour Scene, the Gaslight Anthem and Frank Turner and is still yet to announce its biggest act.

Guernsey Festival of Performing Arts organiser Jon Stephen said, “One of the most unique selling points beside the line-up is that it is in Guernsey. I mean, which festival can you go to where you are literally 5 minutes from a beach? The site is 30 acres of beautiful countryside, it really is a fantastic site for a festival and we even have camping on site for visitors from Jersey and the UK.”

What are the drawbacks though? Well while with most UK festivals, they are only a simple car journey away, whereas if you are travelling to say Benicassim you have to add an expensive plane journey, long train or mind-numbing road trip. For Lollapalooza it’s a trans-Atlantic flight and then even more travelling (if you can’t get a direct flight to Chicago, that is).

“The transport links to the festival from airports and by train though are extremely well provided and allow cheap and easy access to the festival,” a Benicassim organiser commented. Benjamin Saul, a student at the University of Portsmouth who is travelling to Benicassim this year, said, “even though it is a hassle to travel there, I have just become so disinterested in the same T in the Park and Reading and Leeds festival line-ups. The line-up for Benicassim this year is fantastic, and I am guaranteed to see lots of sun while I am there and for me, that’s important.”

For most of us the decision whether to branch out abroad comes down to one factor, money. If you’re a student like I am, you understand that being a student first and foremost, cost will be a big decider, so you have to look at the costs of these festivals abroad in comparison to the UK ones. A weekend ticket to Reading and Leeds is £192 compared to a weekend ticket for Guernsey being £80 and Benicassim at £165.

It may be more effort than nipping up the motorway to T in the Park, but when it comes down to overall experience, nothing can beat the feeling of going overseas for some sun, sea and cider and some festivalling abroad.


About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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