The Lawn at White Oak Music Hall is pretty much the hottest music venue in town right now — and not just because oh dear God, it’s summer again. Temporary stage or not, it’s the only place around to catch the Lumineers on Saturday, and even if you don’t have tickets for that sold-out attraction, you’ve probably been eyeing those Explosions in the Sky and Flaming Lips concerts following right behind it. Remember to wear sunblock.
Not everybody loves the place, of course. The residents of the Near Northside neighborhood surrounding White Oak Music Hall have been pretty cool about a major new music venue moving in, on the whole. But they can’t be thrilled about their streets becoming a scene out of Heavy Metal Parking Lot every other weekend as thousands of fans stream in. Some have already spoken out loudly about parking, traffic and sound in the area, and they probably aren’t giving up anytime soon. The folks at White Oak have been pretty cool on the whole, too, managing satellite parking lots and hiring HPD to keep traffic moving. Let’s be real: They’ve got the hottest spot in town right now. They could get away with much worse. Like booking bands that were born to drive down property values.
We’ve got some ideas on what that might look like. If you ever see any of these ten bands booked on the Lawn, you'll know the venue's battle with its neighbors has gotten really ugly.
10. DEATH GRIPS
It’s not always easy to identify what you’re seeing and hearing at a Death Grips concert, but it’s typically pretty hard to forget it. The group already left a small-but-permanent psychic scar on the city late last year at Day for Night, inspiring both awe and revulsion in large doses with its retina-straining lighting effects and cochlea-crushing drums. Death Grips’ music has been called all sorts of things, from violent and throbbing to dumb and derivative. Most people either love it or hate it. But nearly every mention of their music indicates that it is noisy, because believe me, that’s the first and lasting impression you’ll experience at a Death Grips gig. The Near Northside probably isn’t totally unaccustomed to wild-eyed, shirtless men screaming outside in the neighborhood, but until recently, they haven’t been handed microphones. Book Death Grips and watch the “For Sale” signs start popping up.
How Al Jourgensen can hear anything at all anymore is one of rock and roll’s most closely guarded secrets. For more than 30 years now, the drug-enhanced savant has dutifully produced the harshest, most aggressive electronic rock he can think up, and his band’s live sound is simply deafening. Ministry’s long sets can wear out even hardened fans with their clicking pummel — part-timers barely stand a chance. After again swearing to lay the project to rest in recent years, Jourgensen has once again resurrected a new version of his most famous band, ready to torture P.A. systems across North America and Europe this summer. If they’re ever booked at the Lawn at White Oak, neighbors would do well to start nailing up plywood before the band touches down.
8. MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE
Before you ask: Yes, Mindless Self Indulgence is still around. It’s been almost 20 years now since Jimmy Urine and the gang got together and decided to smash together the most insipid elements of punk, metal, rap and techno like so many Tonka trucks until all the wheels fell off. Somehow, they’re still truckin,’ in defiance of all sanity and decency in rock and roll. Even their fans would probably have to describe them as willfully annoying, and they’re highly apt to piss off your friends, let alone the neighbors. If the MSI music wafting through the streets managed to convert any Near Northside children into fans, it’d be a matter of hours before their parents broke the torches out.
7. KID ROCK
It’s hard to think of a bigger, dumber artist to put onstage at the Lawn at White Oak than Kid Rock. His musical asswipe bona fides are strong, from the on-the-nose classic rock samples of his nu-metal period to his excruciatingly try-hard stabs at the country music charts. The man has never met a common denominator that he couldn’t lower. Tell me you wouldn’t love to see White Oak’s neighbors’ reaction when they realize that that snazzy little piano intro isn’t actually proof that Warren Zevon is alive and touring. It’s the sound of Kid Rock sampling motherfucking “Sweet Home Alabama” and spitting the kind of flow that makes people look down on white rappers — hell, white people in general. The only thing worse he could do to the neighborhood would be moving in.
6. INSANE CLOWN POSSE
Oh, you thought Kid Rock was Detroit’s biggest joke of a white rapper? Must have been nice growing up in that bunker, huh, sealed safely away from the music of Insane Clown Posse? ICP’s music is so aggressively unlistenable that their long, DIY career should not have been possible. The merch sales don’t lie, though: People simply can’t get enough of rapping, homicidal clowns spraying them down with carbonated corn syrup. The duo’s dedicated fans roll deep, and turning the Near Northside into Juggalo Central would almost be too cruel. Imagine waking up to discover that THAT circus had come to town. Wicked.
There are a lot of shock-rock bands out there that would do a fine job of horrifying the neighbors over at White Oak Music Hall, but none of them are as much fun as GWAR. Something about being soaked in the group’s proprietary blend of blood, semen and bloody semen has kept fans coming back for more again and again over the years, even after beloved front-thing/cuttlefish tamer Oderus Urungus bought the farm a couple of years back. The immortal band’s shuddering thrash attack can sometimes feel beside the point next to the nonstop stream of gore and wisecracks, but it’s plenty loud and rude enough to render the Near Northside’s sliding screen doors unusable.
There are a number of reasons why Creed will never play the Lawn at White Oak. Perhaps most significant is that they're only still a band in name only. Guitarist/beard innovator Mark Tremonti has been pretty open about not wanting to spend a heck of a lot of his time with singer Scott Stapp moving forward — not too surprising, given the apparent mental health issues the front man has battled over the years. If they ever do re-form (they will), they’ll probably return to the Woodlands Pavilion, where they filmed a live DVD in 2009. Besides, the White Oak folks would take a major hit to their cred if they let Creed anywhere near the place.
But oh man, having Creed out there yarling “With Arms Wide Open” to a field of old, drunk suburbanites? These are the guys that taught Nickelback virtually everything they know. Booking them would be the biggest middle finger WOMH could possibly give their neighbors. Call it the nuclear option — one there’s no coming back from.
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There’s no real consensus out there on the topic of World’s Most Annoying Punk Band. Too many candidates. But for a couple of decades, at least, NOFX has been in the conversation. Even if you’ve never heard their music, you’ve heard their music, because NOFX’s crummy, catchy tunes inspired a whole generation of spiky-haired beer drinkers to write the same song over and over again, just like their heroes. Imagine that horde of badly tattooed adult teenagers pumping their fists and screaming along to “The Cause” in the Near Northside’s collective ear? That’s the kind of punk concert that could inspire real political action.
2. DIE ANTWOORD
Calling Die Antwoord a polarizing group would be charitable. Leaving aside the allegations of cultural appropriation that have dogged them since the beginning, their punk-rock rave-rap (did I just type that?) style is far-out enough to immediately turn off a large percentage of all who hear it — especially if it’s against their will. Booking this South African phenomenon would turn the Lawn at White Oak into mayhem of the freakiest tier. Just imagine the orchestra of car alarms being set off by the bass.
Whether they knew it or not, the worst-case-scenario artist that the concerned citizens of the Near Northside pictured in their heads when the Lawn was announced had to be Skrillex. It’s not even that dubstep often feels like the worst, most embarrassing popular music trend of the Obama administration, either. Well, it’s not just that. Even people who like dubstep can barely stand this guy. By reducing the genre to a punishing series of screeches and wobbles, he almost singlehandedly created the impression that dubstep is awful. And okay, maybe we just don’t like him because we’re really old. But the Near Northside is older. A Skrillex invasion would be the realization of the neighborhood’s darkest nightmare.