The shootings in Littleton, Colorado, led to the cancellation of V-Rock's Spring Mosh '99 show. They've also expedited a format change. WSTB-FM/88.9, Streetsboro High School's student-run station, is dropping metal in favor of modern rock similar to what was played on WENZ-FM/107.9 before it went urban.
Streetsboro teacher and V-Rock General Manager Bob Long says that Columbine-shaped attitudes about hard rock did influence his and the station's student directors' thinking. "Our social climate is changing," Long says, "in the country as well as locally. People are being a little more cautious about what they're looking at on TV, what movies they watch, what they listen to." He says that there was a perception that V-Rock was "in conflict with the values of the community," adding, "Whether that's true or not, like politics and religion, you can debate that all you want."
The station went off the air July 10. Long hopes WSTB will return with the new format and a new nickname by August 16.
Though he's been told otherwise by industry types, Long is confident the alternative format will score with listeners. He thinks modern rock (and metal) is traditionally a poor ratings performer, because ratings services like Arbitron require that listeners keep a diary. "Young people usually don't fill out a diary they lose it," he says.
Long also notes that artists V-Rock played in its infancy, like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, are considered alternative. "Then, it was cutting-edge metal, and now it's light." He sees today's metal as "extremely heavy and extremely angry."
V-Rock made headlines earlier this year when Streetsboro Mayor Sally Henzel canceled Spring Mosh '99, a station benefit concert to be headlined by Mushroomhead. Even though the show had been approved by the school board and city officials, Henzel pulled the plug, citing safety concerns. It was suggested the mayor had been influenced by residents who complained about a shock-rock act like Mushroomhead performing at a public school. The students rallied behind the show, and it was eventually granted the necessary permit. But just days before the concert, two teen gunmen turned Columbine High School into a killing field, and the superintendent decided to cancel the show.
Mike Kuhstos was a senior at Streetsboro when V-Rock became a metal station, and he worked as its promotions director until 1998. He was also the producer of Spring Mosh. Given the years it took V-Rock to establish itself as a beachhead for metal and the Spring Mosh media splash, he's disappointed by the format change. He contrasts the station's early days, when "if the phone rang, we all ran to it, because that meant someone was out there," with the present. "People say, "Oh, you're from Streetsboro? That's where that cool station is.'"
An irony not lost on Kuhstos is that "instead of Spring Mosh being a benefit for the station, it was part of its downfall."
The station decided on the format change in late June, but it didn't tell the local metal bands who had put together a July 9 show at Peabody's DownUnder to benefit V-Rock. It should have. Resin Dogs singer Dan Cogar, who coordinated the event, is upset he didn't learn about the switch until the day after. "I just thought it was a real salty way to deal with all these bands," he says.
While Long says the decision was his and his students', Cogar suspects the Streetsboro school board, panicked by the actions of two homicidal kids in Colorado, insisted on the change. "It seems like people are really afraid to support metal," he says. "They see Marilyn Manson and think that's what we all are like. But we all punch time clocks. All the guys in my band have a few years of college under their belts."
Cogar adds, "I don't know one band in the Cleveland scene who worships the devil or who wants something bad to happen to one of [its] fans."
That's how long the line for merchandise measured at the Insane Clown Posse show at the Nautica Stage last Tuesday night. While the line moved slowly, few seemed to mind. There were three opening bands (with tedious breaks in between), so they weren't in danger of missing their precious Clowns perform.
Let me be the thousandth person to say the Clown Passé has borrowed a move or two from Kiss: the black-on-white face paint, the carnival-of-destruction posturing, the shoot-from-the-crotch lyrics. While the members of Kiss have never been shy about lending their likenesses to everything from throw towels to, as announced last week, a team of WCW wrestlers, the Clowns are gaining on their masters. I don't think I've attended a concert with a higher concentration of fans wearing the band's official gear. A friend handled ICP's merchandise on a previous tour, and the amount of cash he put in the safe every night was astonishing. It's as if you didn't attend the show if you didn't leave with an ICP car-window decal or a $150 hockey jersey.
The Nautica crowd was older than expected (I pictured a fleet of minivans dispensing fourteen-year-olds) and therefore more terrifying. Kids painting their faces like their heroes is one thing; adults is quite another. The crowd shot the finger and threw things at the first band of the night, Mindless Self Indulgence. Girls and women in the mosh pit were exhorted to show their tits. Inevitably, they would be hoisted on someone's shoulders and would quickly lift up and pull down their tank tops. One teenage girl hocked a big loogie as she waited in the T-shirt line. A sheet of vomit steamed by the soundboard. One kid, presumably a mosher, was removed by stretcher, his neck braced still.
At least you weren't showered by your neighbor with Faygo, ICP's signature stage prop. Nautica forbade anyone from bringing in their own supply. Empty two-liter jugs of cola, red pop, root beer, and cream soda littered the parking lot, leaving a tacky feeling on the soles of your shoes. That wasn't all that felt soiled.
By the way, ICP's second date at Nautica this summer, August 14, has been canceled because of tour conflicts.
October 3-10, saxophonist Louis Jordan will be recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's American Masters Series. During the week, there will be lectures, films, a day-long conference at Case Western, and a concert at the Odeon. Jordan was inducted into the hall as an early influence in 1987. Previous Masters Series honorees were Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rodgers, and Robert Johnson.
Liquid is one of five winners of VH1's Guitar Center Big Break Unsigned Band Search. Thousands of bands entered the contest, according to VH1, and the winners play the Rock Across America stage at national shows. Liquid gets to open for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at the Polaris Amphitheater in Columbus, Wednesday, July 28.
Legacy, Epic Records's heritage imprint, has reissued the O'Jays' Live in London, which was originally released in 1974. The six-song CD captures the O'Jays' performance at the Hammersmith Odeon in December 1973.
BANDS-AIDS, Bands and Neighbors Doing Something about AIDS, is holding a benefit show Sunday, July 25, at the Vaneta Blues Bar in Green. Mojometer, Blue Lunch, Central Park West, Nine Below Zero, Pewee Carter, Captain Nemo, and Swing Heil perform. The show benefits the Community AIDS Network of Akron and Violet's Cupboard, so bring canned goods.
The 8th Midwest Reggae Fest at Meadow Ridge Farm in Huntsburg has been moved up from Labor Day weekend to Saturday, July 24. The Reggae Cowboys, Black Market, Istan Black, Dubflex, One World Tribe, DJ Black Scorpio, and MC Papa Dave perform.
WRUW-FM/91.1's "Night of the Living Dread" pays tribute to reggae great Dennis Brown on Friday, July 23 and 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. Brown died July 1 . . . Michael Stanley plays an acoustic show at the Strasburg Social Center at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 24 . . . John Lester of Strongsville was the winner of last week's contest. Lester correctly identified Regurgitate from its tough-to-read logo. David Martin