In the midst of getting our collective Rocks Off panties in a twist over SXSW next week and the impending sweat-stained Westheimer Block Party, it's easy for us to forget what it's like on the other side of the music-snob fence. That's the other, seamier plane where lame-ass tricks like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and 10 Years can help sell out amphitheaters on bills headlined by Korn, Papa Roach and 311. Where masses of fake-tittied off-duty Hooters girls roam free like cattle on the green prairies of Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, as gentlemen in jester hats and nipple piercings try to graze on the fairer sex. True, we understand that at the end of the day we are all motivated by the two greatest incentives in life: sex and the promise of a good time. And given enough booze and visual stimulation, we here at Rocks Off may just end up singing "Last Resort" with you as we down a Bud Light tallboy. Hell, if we'd been hanging out at the gym instead of at Boondocks or some other sketchy Inner-Loop hovel all winter, we might even take our shirts off too.
But what gets us is that every summer, 94.5 The Buzz puts on the same damn Buzzfest out at the Woodlands in the summer and fall. If you guys are "lucky," you get an acoustic Shinedown show at Verizon in the winter. But what's even sadder is that there is a contingent out amongst us that will grow up only knowing rock and roll as a far-off stage at a menacing venue 30 miles away. So each year, The Buzz begins pumping up some middle-of-the-road, freshly-signed modern-rock band out into the ether, and then wants to charge you upwards of $40 to see them perform whatever single their record company deemed worthy enough for play. Along with another dozen or so bands who also thought their only hope was a clause-addled contract from some major label, caressing them with visions of Nickelback-size tours and porn stars feuding over who will bathe them after the show. There was a time when the BuzzFest was a bastion of cool. Albeit a very minute bit of cool, seeing that it was still a corporate affair tapped by the wand of wide appeal. But damn, in 1996, frickin' Lush and God Lives Underwater played BuzzFest! In 1998, the Foo Fighters headlined and Los Skarnales played a side stage. This was also the same year Creed made their debut here, but damned if Rocks Off will let Dave Grohl and Felipe Galvan be eclipsed by that.
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Each year since has been a parade of bands like Seether, Collective Soul and 3 Doors Down leading impressionable kids down a dangerous path. A path where you can't reach out and touch rock, you have to sit in an assigned seat and drink a $7 beer while some advance-gorged band plays out some sort of glittery, glorified bar-band fantasy. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, you can buy a shirt from the very guy who just melted your face off and watch him load his own drum kit into a muddy van behind Rudyard's. Its OK, Buzzfest. We see this year that the whole shebang is sponsored by the U.S. Army and Darque Tan. So along with telling young fans that they aren't worth bringing in a solid lineup, you get the government to help foot the bill.