Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Rolling Stones ruined Rochester New York


I grew up in Rochester New York, which is maybe 5 hours west of New York City. My parents still live there, as does my 15 year old sister. Recently she went to see Lil Wayne. I've never seen Lil Wayne, but I did go to see him once, and he canceled. Apparently he loves canceling because he also canceled the show that my sister went to see. Her $100 ticket was honored for a make-up concert a month or two later, but he canceled that one too. A third make-up concert was scheduled, and canceled, and the show's promoter filed a lawsuit against Wayne, as reported by Pitchfork today. This is not the first lawsuit Lil Wayne has undergone, having just agreed to pull a song off of Carter III because the Rolling Stones did not appreciate his sampling/referencing of the song "Playing With Fire." The Pitchfork article refers to Rochester as "Crotchester" and provides a half-funny hypothetical list of reasons the shows were canceled.

Growing up there, I remember feeling like we were always skipped over. Bands would rather go above Lake Ontario and play Toronto and Montreal than go below the lake to play Rochester. We did the same thing ourselves last November with No Age. As teenagers, we would go to Toronto(4 hours each way) to see bands play all time: Dinosaur Jr., Faith No More, Jesus Lizard etc. When I left Rochester, I lived in Portland for awhile where I would occasionally meet artists through my job who would say things like, "oh, we performed in Rochester. Once. It was... grim."


The lawsuit relating to the Lil Wayne cancellation makes me worry about the teenagers of Rochester. If I were Lil Wayne, or any of his friends, or his booking agent, or a touring rapper, I would think twice about scheduling a show in Rochester ever again. No other city has ever sued a performer at that level in recent memory, right? So why not skip over it? It's not like it's a key market.
The funny thing is this isn't the first time this has happened in Rochester. When I was 14, The Soup Dragons had a marginal hit with a cover of the Rolling Stones song "I'm Free" and were booked to perform at the University of Rochester. I forget exactly what went wrong with that show, but the band only played for 10 or 15 minutes and the college refused to pay them. A few months later, The New York Times ran a piece where they asked a bunch of bands to name the best and worst cities, and the Soup Dragons announced that Rochester was unequivically the worst place in the world. I remember reading it and getting so bummed out, imagining that the Beastie Boys or Fugazi or whatever band I was amped on at the time would also read the article and decide not to play Rochester as a result. But that's still not the beginning. Fifteen years before that, the Rolling Stones played a concert in Rochester right around the time that "Get Off My Cloud" came out. During the concert, thousands of fans stormed the stage, and the show was shut down only 7 minutes into their set. This obviously sparked a riot, during which a cop lost an eye when a bottle was thrown in his face. The Rochester press blamed the Stones, and the band has never returned to the city, but they sure made certain that their descendents continued to cause trouble there.

Musicians that have changed my life that were born in Rochester:

-Lydia Lunch
-Bob Nastanovich
-Kim Gordon
-Cab Calloway
-Wendy O. Williams

5 comments:

april said...

i think we turned out better because rochester was always passed over. it made us want something better for ourselves.

fabulous-stain said...

there's this great bumper sticker floating around rochester that reads: "ROCHESTER it's an acquired taste."

also hi ethan! say hi to jordana for me!

justin (formerly of the analog shock)

Anonymous said...

I was at the Stones concert and NOBODY stormed the stage. The Nazi police dept. Under Detective Lieut. Anthony Fantagrossi stopped the concert because we had the gaul to stand up and not be seated! Good for the Stones to say that they never would play in that jerk water town again. Left that conservative Republican city 38 yrs. ago for Ca. And NEVER looked back.

Anonymous said...

The reason the Soup Dragons don't like Rochester is because they came to play D-Day one year (92 maybe?) and almost no one showed up. They played a few songs, got mad and left.

Anonymous said...

I did production at that Soup Dragons show, and you're right, they had a really bad turnout. I seem to remember the majority of the audience being security, LOL.