I wanna first off go on the record and state that I'm not especially gagging for the return of rawk. I love a lot of the more polite, intelligent records dropping all around, the ones that reward repeat listens. I'm not railing against that necessarily but following on from the other, more politicised thread, and what sean wrote for The Times, I believe that the net may well have neutered modern rock acts. And I'm just going to fire off a stream of rambling nonsense to back that. Sorry in advance.
There was a telling story a few months back when Alice Cooper complained that Vampire Weekend, who he saw live on a whim and had assumed to be badass (lol), turned out to be pussies. Fair enough. I like Vampire Weekend, they seem like nice kids. But it got me thinking that, in the current age, are people so quick to snort derisively at the purported 'badasses' that acts are afraid of lashing out because of a greatly magnified backlash?
Look at the (fairly) tame Black Lips vs Wavves beef. Was it Jared? Anyway Jared (I think) referred to Nathan as a faggot a couple of times and threatened to kick his ass next time he caught him round. Everyone reacted by mocking Jared for his language and his behaviour. For one of the most credible modern bands with an unpredictable/'punk' front, that seemed silly.
Towers of London were pretty shit but the faux-punk antics and schtick got them laughed out the building in double-time. Arcade Fire tried to make Neon Bible more political and grandiose and were called out as trying to ape Springsteen; a sentiment which seems to have slowly swelled and now Neon Bible is seen as a bit of a misfire. Kanye was a dick to Swift - funny as fuck in a way because Kanye's batshit crazy - but my good God did he get a bollocking from that. Even the President got caught on tape calling him a dick! Did Clinton ever pass comment on the geez from Rage disrupting, and subsequently getting arrested, the MTV awards when Limp Bizkit won over them (or something, I was like 8)?
I might be wrong, but if Guns 'N Roses emerged today, they wouldn't get nearly as far. A whole host of smug blog writers would be gunning them down as trying too hard or lame or flash-in-the-pan pretenders and they wouldn't have got nearly as far.
Maybe now we know a lot more of what goes on (Twitter, blog commentary, 24/7 rolling media) than before and so artists who promote an edgy or uncouth front get a much harsher backlash much sooner, but it does feel like the edge has been rounded off for some reason. That's not especially a bad thing, of course - 19 year olds swaggering around drinking JD and presenting a rough attitude will more often than not be shit (o hai The View). But it's always nice to have a balance, a choice. And right now I'm seeing a heavily stylised middle-of-the-road Kings of Leon headlining Reading with a ton of shit lights and screens behind them, TV coverage showing teenage girls in the crowd singing along; what I'm craving is a white sheet with some lights spinning on it, one sick drummer, one sweet bassist, one geez dancing around for no reason and a frazzled heroin addict from Seattle ripping killer riffs out of his left-handed Jag. The return of raw, but credible.