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Thread: What do you expect in a headliner?

  1. #1
    Member TomServo's Avatar
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    Default What do you expect in a headliner?

    I've been thinking a lot about headline acts, and what they bring to a festival. Recently read an old interview with Jim Morrison, who believed that histrionics were necessary to reach a giant crowd and "grotesque" in smaller venues. (They discussed him lying on the stage while singing, for instance)

    This year, most folks felt as though Jay-Z brought enough as a headliner to justify his spot, and a lot of board members were disappointed in Gorillaz (this doesn't seem to be the majority of festivalgoers, though).

    I think a best-case scenario is a band with a diverse and well-known set list, who puts on a unique performance for a long period of time. Others might argue that Uniqueness is overrated, still others would say that's the whole point of the festival. Radiohead and NIN headlined Lollapalooza a couple years ago and put on essentially the same show they do every night on tour - Jay-Z did the same at Coachella this year. Meanwhile, Gorillaz did something new and presumably interesting, but maybe not interesting enough.

    So what's your opinion? Lifting Lollapalooza's headliners, would you rather have an act with a ridiculous stage show and limited set list (Lady Gaga), an engaging band with a lot of hits who seem to genuinely enjoy playing (Green Day), or a reunion act playing their first major show with a deep set list that's not hit-driven (Soundgarden)? Who would leave you most satisfied at dropping a grand on tickets and incidentals?

    Other thoughts... does it matter if the frontman barely engages the audience, or if he banters throughout? Thom Yorke and Trent Reznor probably had a combined two sentences of dialogue at the 2008 Lollapalooza show, while Eddie Vedder could've published a novella of his discourse with the crowd a year earlier.

    Just curious what folks' opinions are...

  2. #2
    Judgy McMarco TeamCoachellaHellYeah's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you expect in a headliner?

    This is what I expect in a headliner:

    http://pitchfork.com/features/articl...oachella-2008/
    "Coachella! I'm gonna start things off here with something from the third disc of Crystal Ball !" "Who wants to hear The Rainbow Children in its entirety?" "Ladies and gentlemen, Appolonia!"

    Prince said a whole bunch of shit during his headlining set on Saturday night, but fortunately none of the above was included. Granted, that's what one should expect when the guy on stage is getting forked over a rumored $4.8 million. But compared to artists like, say, Death Cab and Jack Johnson, this is an upgrade from David Eckstein to Alex Rodriguez; your headliners can't fall back on shit like grittiness or hustle-- they should be able to knock it out of the park.

    To call this a concert would be selling it short. Cavalcade? Extravaganza? Well, that's more like it, and from the jump, it was evident that we weren't just going to hear The Hits, Vol. 1 on shuffle. As a matter of fact, it took nearly a half hour just to hear some original Prince material. Not that anyone was complaining when Morris Day kicked off the set off with two Time numbers before Sheila E. gave us "The Glamorous Life".

    Between the stratospheric expectations and the obvious financial obligation, Prince was sparing no tricks, even if he was up against an obvious problem: We'd been our feet for the past 12 hours in 100-degree weather listening to live music. God bless him for keeping shit interesting even as fatigued concertgoers were begrudgingly making their way out. Prince raps have always been dicey going, but he had no trouble spicing up "Musicology" with timely music-biz crit and you have to love the decision to pull out early-90s chestnuts like "7" and "Cream", while dedicating the latter to himself (sadly, he did not do "My Name Is Prince" nor have Kirstie Alley narrate the thing).

    But through no fault of his own, it might have been too overwhelming. After understandably taking the stage about a half hour later than expected, and running through 15 of the weekend's most impressive guitar solos, 12:30 in the morning may not have been the opportune time to have a backup singer cover Sarah McLachlan's "Angel", before turning an extended version of "Come Together" into an anti-war screed. Mind you, this was before he did "Purple Rain", which might still be going on to this moment. But all of that is merely bitchery when you consider that we'll likely never see his likes again; the only thing keeping my aching feet off my mind was the comfort in knowing that I was among the ten of thousands of luckiest music fans in America.

    And, oh, you may have heard, but he played "Creep". During one of the many interludes Prince took between particularly lengthy workouts, there was an arpeggiated chord progression that sounded familiar, but just a bit…off. But all of a sudden, "When you were here before…" You looked at the person to your right in confusion. "Couldn't look you in the eye." And then to the left as you were starting to realize what the fuck was happening. --Ian Cohen
    I just want someone to bring it and maybe in the end do something a little different for their set. That is all.
    Quote Originally Posted by TomAz View Post
    Reviewers who note the size of the crowd are dumb fucks.
    COACHELLA's: 2001. 2002. 2003. 2004. 2005. 2006. 2007. 2008. 2009. 2010. 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014. 2015.

  3. #3
    Member tigermilkboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you expect in a headliner?

    My expectations of an headliner are that they should be relevant, original and able.
    I have seen bands pull off headline slots with only two albums behind them, and equally seen bands with more than half-a-dozen albums fail (RHCP and blur spring to mind). The biggest pitfall for any seasoned headliner is to play too much new album and ignore their extensive back catalog.
    Ideally I like to see an headliner capable of playing a set of at least one hour and forty five minutes to two hours in length. Even better, if they make the appearance memorable.

  4. #4
    man-homie obzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you expect in a headliner?

    We'll never see anything like the show Prince brought (or the 1-2-3 punch that was Kraftwerk/Portishead/Prince for that matter) again on the polo fields, that night was pure insanity.

    And by that, I mean Crushing Deathblows™.

  5. #5
    Judgy McMarco TeamCoachellaHellYeah's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you expect in a headliner?

    I pulled the article for the saying of "Headliners should be able to knock it out of the park".
    Not for Prince himself. But yeah Crushing Deathblows™
    Quote Originally Posted by TomAz View Post
    Reviewers who note the size of the crowd are dumb fucks.
    COACHELLA's: 2001. 2002. 2003. 2004. 2005. 2006. 2007. 2008. 2009. 2010. 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014. 2015.

  6. #6
    Member sleepybrew's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you expect in a headliner?

    i really like the thoughts brought up by the op. i would say headliners at coachella that i've seen that met my expectations were ratm and muse. the ones that blew expectations away were Prince and Waters.

    and yeah, obzen, that 1-2-3 in '08 i don't think will ever be matched. just........just too much for words
    Iron Maiden, Boards of Canada and Underworld for 2013

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