Thursday, December 14, 2017

5 Reasons Boy Bands Still Matter in This Twisted World

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 5:01 PM

BEFORE: 98 Degrees' first Christmas album cover in 1999.
  • BEFORE: 98 Degrees' first Christmas album cover in 1999.
Cleveland still loves boy bands, as seen with the parade of nostalgia-heavy acts rolling though the city all year long (and mostly selling well). Bands like Hanson, Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block have already performed, and tonight, Ohio's own 98 Degrees takes to the Hard Rock Rocksino stage.

Armed with a slew of new holiday songs and old hits that the fans would riot if they didn't hear, the guys are ready to prove they still got what it takes. But what makes these (mostly has-been) heartthrobs and their ilk relevant in 2017? We've compiled a list of reasons boy bands continue to fuel the fire of fans’ adoration, including with tours to Cleveland:

1. Screaming is cathartic.
When the Beatles hit America in the 1960s, fans lost their minds weeping, screaming and fainting. And anytime a group of semi-handsome young men come to town to sing, dance and tear out hearts, that practice has continued.

"It was so loud and so overbearing that you couldn't really hear what you were doing," 98 Degrees' Jeff Timmons, originally from Massillon, recounted to Scene back in 2003 of his time doing stadium tours.

That's a lot of screaming.

But there's something about getting together with a bunch of like-minded music fans to watch a bunch of men dance and croon about on stage. Here, it's acceptable to scream. It's almost like screaming is the only natural chemical reaction imaginable. Which gets us to the next point:

2. Boy bands make you feel things, deep down.
Last year, British GQ actually received death threats from One Direction fans who perceived the magazine as being too harsh on their favorite band. And while that's clearly taking it too far, it shows just how deep fan adoration runs.

Certainly, these sorts of acts have always attracted a bevy of haters, but Daniel Goldmark, professor of music at Case Western Reserve University and director for the Center for Popular Music Studies, admits there's nothing wrong with liking these sort of bands in a healthy way.

"I don’t see any problem with it, if people enjoy it. The boy bands are not doing anything that other groups out there are not also doing," says Goldmark over the phone last week. "You need to take it for what it is. You’re allowing yourself to be entertained, maybe you’re reliving a better time. Of course, we remember the good things and block out the bad things. So you’re enjoying a time that’s entirely self-constructed, and that’s great. You escape."

3. There's not anything actually wrong with their music.

Sure, the tunes are syrupy and poppy. Many of them are bad. But get a crew together like Hanson, who could write and play, or NSYNC, who could harmonize for days and had Justin Timberlake, and it's a lot harder to argue that this music sucks entirely.

Case and point: take a listen below and you'll be singing this tune all night.

4. Boy bands are mostly inclusive.

"People love boy bands because you can relate to at least one member," Backstreet Boy Nick Carter told CNN this summer. "Boy bands give people the right to be able to choose who their favorites are and who they can relate to. Everyone can find someone that they can call their own."

That's right, whether you're sporty, posh, baby or scary, with boy bands, there's someone for everyone.

5. Boy bands were made to sing Christmas music.
Christmas music is its own genre of schmaltzy, feel-good fodder. So combining boy bands with holiday tunes makes magic. Many bands find its a way to still stay relevant — check out 98 Degrees' new album Let it Snow right here.

But the best part about these ridiculous albums is that every year during the holiday season, you can dust them off, play and reminisce. About the good times, about the bad. These guys were so young back then, but so were you. 
AFTER: 98 Degrees' 2017 Christmas album cover.
  • AFTER: 98 Degrees' 2017 Christmas album cover.

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SZA Gives Powerful Performance at House of Blues

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 2:00 PM

It was around the time when a concert-goer near me last night practically fell to her knees, palms outstretched and grasping, belting along to SZA’s “Drew Barrymore” — “I’m sorry I’m not more attractive/I’m sorry I’m not more ladylike/I’m sorry I don’t shave my legs at night” — that the power of the 28-year-old New Jersey singer began sinking in.

SZA (pronounced Sih-zuh, for the record) makes music that feels unpretentiously real and that she really, honestly likes. This is not a given, and it made her performance endearing and deeply relatable. I nodded when she spoke about jealous glances at a supposed boo who arrives at a party with someone else; my neighbor felt it in her crooned confessional insecurities and resignations.

SZA loses herself dancing to her music like we have alone in our bedroom mirrors. She fans out to the Travis Scott verse on "Love Galore" like we do, and raps with a mischievous grin along to Kendrick’s tongue-in-cheek bars on “Doves in the Wind” like we did. She sheepishly tucks a blunt behind her ear like we might, and riffs over her refrains like we try to but mostly wish we could.

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Folk Singer Sixto Rodriguez to Perform at the Akron Civic Theatre in March

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 12:06 PM

  • Courtesy of the Akron Civic Theatre
A few years ago, the folk singer Sixto Rodriguez experienced a resurgence thanks to the release of the art house hit movie Searching for Sugar Man, a documentary about his life that centers on the rumors of his death that circulated in the '90s.

In the wake of its release, Rodriguez has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and embarked on a short tour. He was also the subject of a 60 Minutes feature that highlighted the film and his burgeoning career.

Now, the singer has announced a 2018 tour. He’ll perform on Friday, March 16, at the Akron Civic Theatre.

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Singer-Songwriters Lyle Lovett and Shawn Colvin to Perform at the Goodyear Theater in March

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 11:18 AM

  • Goodyeartheater.com
Four-time Grammy Award winner Lyle Lovett and three-time Grammy Award winner Shawn Colvin have just announced they'll embark on a co-headlining acoustic tour in 2018.

The two veteran singer-songwriters plan to “share songs and stories” as they perform together.

The tour will include a March 22 stop at the Goodyear Theater in Akron.

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7 Concerts to Catch in Cleveland This Weekend

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 10:16 AM

  • Alyssa Gafkjen

Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives

With his latest tour, country singer-songwriter Marty Stuart will finally play his way out of the woods. He’ll land at House of Blues tonight for an intimate show in support of Way Out West, his newest record. The tour represents the culmination of a vision that Stewart had when he first assembled the Fabulous Superlatives, his backing band. By playing small, off the circuit cities, Stewart has found cultures and causes to represent as he and his bandmates were out playing shows, and all the while, Stuart knew that eventually he’d bring the band back to the mainstream in good time. Way Out West finds Stuart, long a student and advocate of country music history, continuing to dig through the layers of the genre, his way of helping to keep a form of music alive that he views as an endangered species. It’s part of what has been an ongoing process for the veteran artist, who has spent the past decade working in earnest on a series of themed projects. (Matt Wardlaw), 8 p.m., $25 ADV, $25 DOS. House of Blues.

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Sister Hazel Blends 90s Jangle Rock with Introspective Country Twang at Music Box Supper Club

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 9:10 AM


Bringing the sounds of 1997 and then some into Music Box Supper Club last night, Sister Hazel dazzled an attentive audience and touched on all corners of a deep catalog.

I'll admit: I didn't know much beyond Sister Hazel's wildly popular single "All For You," which I'd recently performed as part of a very classy duet at Tina's Nite Club. It's a great tune. I knew that the band was still touring and releasing records, and so I had to do some digging prior to last night's show.

What I found was confirmed onstage: These guys have kept a remarkably consistent career since the early 90s. Their later stuff is more tinged with country than the earlier jangle rock, and they're self-aware enough to know that pop music has moved on from their generation. They wear their Florida roots proudly and, as guitarist Andrew Copeland pointed out last night, they're John Mayer's mom's favorite band. They may be your mom's favorite band, too.

Two of the best acoustic moments came when guitarist Ryan Newell and bassist Jett Beres took lead vocals on their songs, "Thoroughbred Heart" and "Ten Candle Days," respectively. The former may have been the most tender and emotional part of the evening.

From there, guitarist Ken Block stood atop the stage on his own and played "Champagne High." This tune was used as a nice bridge from acoustic to electric, as each band member returned to the stage with another guitar in hand. They cranked the volume and lit into some older classics, like "Happy." Newell shredded like a madman.

At our table, we met some folks from Florida who knew the band personally. They extolled each guy's character and their longevity. And that much became clear as the band members shared stories from their time on the road, from their earlier years, from behind the scenes. Block, Copeland and Beres were super talkative and often very humorous. They took questions from the crowd (about their band name, which is based off beloved Florida missionary Sister Hazel Williams, and about their "go-to karaoke song," which is a reference to a song off their last album). Copeland mentioned that they'll be releasing a new record in February.

Then, of course, they laid down "All For You." The entire room rose to its feet and stomped in rhythm with the American classic.

"One more, Sister!" cried out man in the back. "One more, Sister!"

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bon Jovi Leads List of Rock Hall Inductees for 2018

Posted By on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 7:07 AM

Bon Jovi performing at the Q earlier this year. - JOE KLEON
  • Joe Kleon
  • Bon Jovi performing at the Q earlier this year.
Radiohead, the one act we considered to be a shoe-in for induction into the Rock Hall in 2018, didn’t make the final cut.

Instead, the Rock Hall will induct a list of long-overlooked acts. The 2018 inductees — Bon Jovi, the Cars, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues and Nina Simone — have all been eligible for years. The Cars have even been nominated multiple times.

Sister Rosetta Thorpe will also be inducted as an “early influence.”

The induction ceremony will take place at Public Hall on April 14.

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