Yellowcard: At least they have better hair than Sanjaya, if nothing else.
Yellowcard: At least they have better hair than Sanjaya, if nothing else.

American Idols Live

It's a brilliant system, really: Take a group of malleable, optimistic kids dreaming of a music career and cynically turn them into soulless hit-paraders. Then take basically the same kids and run over their puppies, or something, to make them all sulky so they'll record equally soulless and calculated music to sell to the kids rebelling against the chart-toppers.

My guess is Houston will go about Sunday all wrong. Predictably, all the lame preppy kids will be at Toyota Center for American Idols Live, while all the mascara-caked nonconformists mope it up at Reliant Center for the Warped Tour. Sorry, the "Vans Warped Tour '07." Makes perfect sense at first, but look closer.

Sure, lamer kids love the Idols because they're so popular, but Warped's pseudo-punk/emo shit like Yellowcard and the Starting Line has pretty much eradicated most decent rock music from the mainstream. Or maybe people love Idol-type music because it's so pathetic it makes them feel better about themselves.


American Idols Live

But if it's sad you want, what's more pitiable than dudes in "classic" bands like Bad Religion, dudes nearing Wal-Mart greeter age, performing teen-angsty anthems about how the girl in homeroom's acting all bitchy? And their parents are being total dicks. These days the guys in Pennywise should be happy if their parents can still go to the bathroom by themselves.

Speaking of parents, Scary Kids Scaring Kids fans, the Warped Tour is no real rebellion. Your parents aren't going to be upset you're listening to New Found Glory. Shocking the folks is a lot harder for the MySpace generation, I'm sure, but American Idol's the better route. My parents listen to Bread and Neil Diamond; yours probably listen to Black Flag and the Circle Jerks. What better way, then, to horrify mom and dad than by rocking out to people named Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks?

Yep, Idol's the new punk rock. How better to capture rock and roll's death throes than rocking a Clay Aiken album? What better way to flip off the atrophying societal standards of good taste and talent-based achievement than feigning earnest appreciation for that William Hung or, soon enough, Sanjaya CD? Somebody buys those things, by the millions no less. You might even already have a copy in your house, in the closet next to the ironic trucker hats and the Big Mouth Billy Bass.

Throw all these things in a box with your ticket stub from either concert and label it "Purchases I'll Be Embarrassed About in College." You might notice I'm only addressing the kids going to these shows, ignoring the countless adults who will pay good money to see both. That's because if you're older than 15 and contemplating going to either concert, I'm assuming you're also illiterate. American Idols Live perform Sunday, July 15, at Toyota Center, 1510 Polk, 713-627-9622. The Vans Warped Tour '07 appears Sunday, July 15, at Reliant Center, 1 Reliant Park, 832-667-1400.


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