The second annual Make America Rock Again Tour is heading to the Pub Fountains in Stafford on Sunday night. The tour is your standard nostalgia cash grab dolled up to capitalize on the whole "Make America Great Again" phenomenon that has pretty much dominated the public consciousness for the better part of two years.
Sure, artists like Scott Stapp (Creed), Drowning Pool, Sick Puppies and Trapt haven’t been relevant in some time – hell, Drowning Pool is on like it’s fourth singer, Sick Puppies canned their original front man a few years back and Stapp without Creed is like dollar store peanut butter without dollar-store jelly. Nevertheless, plenty of paying customers will fork over the cash to catch their rock heroes of yesteryear jamming out to days gone by.
This is not meant to disparage the Make America Rock Again Tour. The bands on the bill are fine for what they are, their lyrics simple and inoffensive and if people are willing to pay for your services, then by all means, you do you. That said, if the Make America Rock Again Tour is going to become a real, annual thing on the summer concert scene, might we make a few suggestions?
Borrow From The Buzz
Say what you will about 94.5 The Buzz and its smattering of local festivals, but damn if they don’t draw. Why is that? Simply put, The Buzz knows what people will pay to see. The most recent Buzzfest featured rock bands like Godsmack, P.O.D., Breaking Benjamin and Toadies, while the most recent Bud Light Weenie Roast had Blue October, Chevelle and 10 Years. Literally zero of these bands are in their commercial prime, and yet each has enough name value to help pack the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Sure, these bands rank a bit higher in the nostalgia-rock pecking order when compared to the likes of a Stapp or Drowning Pool, but the gap isn’t all that wide.
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Trim the One-Hit Wonders
Quick, name a Trapt song that isn’t “Headstrong.” Or a Drowning Pool track besides “Bodies.” Hell, does Scott Stapp even have any material of note that doesn’t involve Creed? Point being, fans are going to pay to hear a couple of tunes on Sunday night, they will most likely be entertained by said tunes, then they will leave. How about giving them a band with just a bit more of a singles catalog?
Let the Ladies Play Too
This year's Make America Rock Again Tour is mostly a guy’s night, though the Sick Puppies do feature a lady in bassist Emma Anzai. Organizers can do better than that. Rock is not only littered with female-fronted bands, but ones that safely fit in the tour's wheelhouse. Bands like Flyleaf, Nightwish and the Pretty Reckless would all make for fine additions to the bill.
Add Some Hip-Hop
Yes, it’s technically the Make America Rock Again Tour, but there are certainly some noteworthy hip-hop acts out there who breed elements of rock into their primary genre. Case in point, Cypress Hill, a group with a number of hits, one of which is coincidentally titled, “Rock Superstar.” B-Real and crew seem like an act that could bring a little hip-hop to the tour while simultaneously allowing it to keep its rock star cred.
…And Some Country
Country and rock not only feature a ton of similar traits, they each appeal to a similar crowd. Now, this is not the tour for Luke Bryan or Cole Swindell. But a band like the Drive-By Truckers, who seamlessly blend rock and country, would make for a nice addition. Hell, go big and get Mr. America himself, Kid Rock. Speaking of which…
Get a Legit Headliner
Any traveling festival of sorts is only as good as its headliner. You can preach quality and depth all you want, but in the end, the name atop the marquee draws the majority of the paying customers. So if you’re going to go, go big; lure in an act that once ruled the roost but one that now might be okay headlining smaller venues. Think bands like Limp Bizkit, the aforementioned Kid Rock, Staind, etc. Not only do these bands have nostalgia appeal, plenty of people who will still pay good money to watch them play.
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…Or Charge Less For Tickets
One general admission ticket for the Make America Rock Again Tour runs $40 before taxes. Make it a pit pass, and that price jumps to $75. No disrespect to the artists, but expecting people to pay upwards of $50 to see Scott Stapp and Drowning Pool is pure lunacy. Hell, if you want to be overcharged for your nostalgia fix on Sunday night, Seether is playing House of Blues.
Finally, No More Scott Stapp
Look, I’ve defended Stapp on numerous occasions, even in writing. Dude is not nearly as bad as some might remember; in fact, Creed’s first record is quite good. But the guy plays a gig in Houston seemingly every few months, leading one to believe he’s doing the same to other cities across the country. Perhaps it’s time to give someone (anyone!) else a turn at the mike.