Headlines, Music

Why does Jack Johnson suck so much?

Andrew’s Hamburgers in Albert Park is a culinary institution in this part of town. Its family feel aesthetic is lined with the numerous awards and plaudits the small joint has received in all its years in business. True to form, Andrews is always filled come lunch time, and with its busy staff, the small kitchen area is teaming with workers, including principal owner Greg Pappas. With its cosy locale, there isn’t much room outside of your own head to contemplate anything but diving your teeth into the succulent patty, waiting for the juicy extras the joint is known for to satiate your taste buds.

There are very few things that can ruin this experience, or so I thought.

Recently, during a lunch time sojourn, my ears were met with the untimely and horrific sounds of the in-store radio playing Jack Johnson’s “Taylor”. The station in question was the local classic rock station and one of the reasons why they’re playing a song more than a decade old (other than the obvious) is most likely because Johnson is slated to appear at next year’s Byron Bay Blues Festival, a gargantuan collection of performances that next year will include Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Iron & Wine and about a hundred other artists from all walks of life and backgrounds.

Yet as I tried to dig into my burger, my ears shrivelled to the size of raisins and my chest grew tight. My stomach churned and my head became weary. I knew it wasn’t the uneaten Andrews burger in my hand because that is scientifically impossible, so I knew it was the awful, awful sounds of Jack Johnson and that insipid song. But why? It’s hard to pinpoint the numbers and logic behind it, but as I packed up and walked out to finish my burger elsewhere, I was taken back to the song’s much played music video and deduced that my severe dislike for Johnson and his music stems from this 5+ minutes of film.

If you haven’t seen it (maybe it should stay that way), here it is:

It’s got all the hallmarks of a Jack Johnson video- the serene settings all tuned in to the plinky plonky music. It’s got the beach and surf and people dressed like they spend all day there. And then there’s Ben Stiller. Ben fucking Stiller. I don’t hate the guy but God damn it if his stupid facial expressions and his stupid acting in this stupid video makes me angry every time I see, or think about it. I hadn’t in a while too, which was great.

Back in 2002 when I was still living in Indonesia, MTV and Channel [V] still mostly played music videos and hashed through this piece of garbage relentlessly. I suspect this is the cause of my irrational reaction to it today.

Strangely, I don’t mind the Dave Matthews Band and I don’t think John Mayer is anywhere near as bad as a lot of people seem to think he is. Both are to some degree, musically similar, but I cannot stand Jack Johnson. Is it his surfer boy vibes or overtly hippy surfer commune-like aura? I don’t know. Through his six full length albums (all with ridiculously easy going, beach-as names like To The Sea, In Between Dreams and From Here To Now To You… and really, what the fuck is that?), I honestly cannot name a single song or have heard any music that happens to be Jack Johnson and thought, “oh yeah, this is pretty good”.

Maybe its because he’s always got a shit-eating grin on his face.

For some reason, his music has connected with a great deal of people other than myself and while that’s not a problem by any means, it ruined my Andrews Hamburger and that’s just not kosher.

Can one awful song be enough to dislike an artist for life? Apparently so.

Then again, maybe it’s Ben Stiller.

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Music

Still Lame: Vans Warped Tour Australia 2013

Back in a 1998 issue of Flipside Magazine (the punk one), the Warped Tour got a righteous lambasting in a column detailing the tour’s mall punk lineup, excessive prices of bottled water and the general lameness of the music festival routine. It was a terrific piece detailing a punk rocker’s bewildering and angry journey into a then bubbling underground; a soon to be mass produced factory-line punk rock show. At the time, the Warped Tour was in just its third year, and already its predictable transformation was seen as inevitable.

News has come to light that the Warped Tour will return to Australia for the first time since 2002 and people seem to be excited about it. But in what capacity does Australia need the Warped Tour? It doesn’t of course, but for co-organizers Kevin Lyman and Soundwave honcho AJ Maddah, this is just another clever, money printing venture meant to tap in to the already saturated, exhausted alternative music touring scene.

But you see, Lyman and Maddah are brilliant entrepreneurs. They saw a gaping hole in a scene bursting into the mainstream and filled it with their money-hungry, intelligently forward-thinking dongs. When Warped Tour pulled the plug on their Australian adventure in 2002, Maddah saw a perfect opening in the genre and grew what eventually became Soundwave in Perth from some extreme sports/music festival called Gravity Games. True to form, the first Soundwave in 2007 featured many of the same Warped bands- Thrice, MxPx, Unwritten Law etc- that became the staple of Lyman’s annual touring circus. And as the year went on and the festival grew, it very much became the Southern hemisphere’s alternative music festival.

You can say they’re “different” AJ, but they’re not.

So here we are, drenched in music festivals and broke because of $10 bottles of water and $100+ tickets, and we’re getting the Warped Tour in December, just 3 months before the annual Soundwave Festival. It is another preposterous money grab at the poor kids who love alternative music and can only seek refuge in the giant arms of Maddah and Lyman. And save your time from announcing the bands, I’m sure half of them will have been here on Soundwave. Same festival, same bands, paying for it all twice.

I am unsure who is the bigger villain here; Lyman and Maddah or all the people who bought in to all of this bullshit. Growth and success come with choice. With success comes the idea that you can still be at the top of your mountain while giving back to those who put you there. Perhaps alternating the years in which Warped and Soundwave tour? Maybe kids are just stupid enough to buy a ticket to the same festival twice.

There are pages and pages worth of bile reserved for all the music festivals currently on the Australian market. We are slowly seeing the market implode as the garbage festivals are weeded out of the pile. Imbecile promoters interested in the bottom line more than an artist is interested in the biggest paycheck out of a 30 minute performance. As festivals fall, we will find a balance in what music, and in certain cases punk rock specifically, is all about.

Queers frontman Joe Queer said it best;

You play music because there’s something inside of you that says you have to play music … The Warped Tour changed it. Fuck it. To me a punk gig is a small sweaty club with the audience right in your face knocking over the mic stand and boogying off the energy. 

Too bad there are not enough Joe Queers left in the world. And too bad not enough listeners of whatever the hell consists of punk music today know who Joe Queer is.

Both festivals and their promoters are no stranger to endless amounts of criticism and drama. Maddah being the most notorious with his trigger happy twitter account and his incessant need to pick fights with the likes of that Good Charlotte guy, Travis Barker and anyone who generally rubs him the wrong way. If only someone could add an extra “think before you hit send” button just for him. Just as if we could add a “think before you buy” one to everyone thinking about buying a ticket to Warped Tour Australia 2013. But if you are too stupid to do so, well, there’s nothing I can do about it except to tell you, like those in 1998, you are fucking lame.

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