Four Types of "Tricks" Rock Stars Use Live

Photo by Jason Rogers
Is that guitar plugged in?
There has been a lot of collective outrage in recent years over the ways that various pop and rock stars are "faking" live performances. I think that's valid to a certain degree, especially in regards to rock bands. Rock is a broad genre, but one where a certain rawness and authenticity has long been valued over glossy perfection, after all.

But some of this outrage toward performers of all types seems misplaced when you look at things a little closer. In today's market, musicians of all types are often making more money from their tours than they are from album sales, a reversal from the days when live shows were primarily a way for popular bands to promote album sales.

And since live concerts are so important these days, there is an added incentive to make them perfect, especially since ticket prices for some of them have risen to ridiculous levels. But pop and rock stars have used various technologies and other tools to make live shows look and sound better for decades; some of these techniques are new, and some have been around for years.

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Which Silly Music-Quiz Taker Are You?

Categories: Now You Know...

Do you know the answer to this quiz? Chances are you do.
If you were a "David Bowie," would you be the Thin White Duke or Ziggy Stardust? If you were a Michael Jackson song, would you be "Bad," or would you be staring at "The Man In the Mirror?"

Thanks to a deluge of incredibly popular online quizzes from pop-culture Web sites like Zimbio and Buzzfeed, you may already know the answers to these not terribly pertinent questions. While these sites and others like them generate more content than these Q&A's, the draw, at least of late, has been prefabricated quizzes that ostensibly tell us something about ourselves.

Here's how it works: you spot a quiz like "Which Classic Rock Band Are You?" on your Facebook feed. You're a huge Led Zeppelin fan and you have no doubt you are Page, Plant and Bonham melded into one singular badass. So you take the quiz, which is brief enough to be completed while waiting in line at the grocery store.

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Dom Kennedy at Warehouse Live, 2/14/2014

Categories: Now You Know...

Photos by Justin Avery
Dom Kennedy
Warehouse Live
February 14, 2014

Mad love, among other things, was in the air Valentine's Day for Dom Kennedy's "Get Home Safely" tour. The bass of the Ballroom's speakers pushed the aromatic cannabis scent out the front doors of Warehouse Live onto St. Emanuel Street, while couples and loners alike lined the outside of the building dressed in their swaggy-est, most weather-appropriate street wear.

On the inside, loyal fans pressed up against the guardrails separating the general area from the stage, while Houston's hip-hop elite perched atop the elevated platform to the left of the venue nearest the V.I.P. area.

After openers ShoStoppa, hailing from Austin, and Houston's own WhyJae, concertgoers were introduced to the headliner's co-signee, Skeme. Mostly performing songs from his recent Ingleworld album, Skeme left the stage with adequate energy for his later return during Kennedy's performance.

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Nipsey Hussle at Warehouse Live, 2/7/2014

Categories: Now You Know...

Photos by Justin Avery
Nipsey Hussle
Warehouse Live
February 7, 2014

The frigid outside temperatures Friday night made Warehouse Live's Ballroom feel like the coziest place in the city. But you could see the cold-induced stiffness instantly melt away as Nipsey Hussle ticketholders crossed through the venue's double doors for the last leg of his "Crenshaw U.S." tour.

Fans placed drink orders, took viewing positions and proudly hung their Hussle-patented "T.M.C." (the marathon continues) flags across the banisters. A host of Houston rap's most notable names -- Bun B, Boston George, Jas Prince, Le$, Kirko Bangz, Slim Thug, Propain, C-Stone, Doughbeezy, Killa Kyleon and Jack Freeman -- all hung around backstage to see the South Central L.A. rapper grace the stage.

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What to Expect Your First Year as a New Band

Photo by Alex Ramos
Vanilla Sugar, year one survivors
Somewhere, some kid unwrapped his or her first guitar this Christmas. And, maybe he or she found a few other kids who also received instruments -- or at least Guitar Center gift cards -- and have decided to form a band.

It's an exciting time. You come together, bonded by the notion of changing the world with your unified creative vision. That, plus you get to choose a cool band name and talk about the type of groupies you hope you'll attract.

But what happens next? Settling on "CthuLou Dobbs" -- I'd love to see that band logo, btw -- and blurting out you prefer brunettes with blue eyes takes all of five minutes. What's the rest of your first year as a band going to look like?

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10 Reasons the Door Guy Hates You

Universal Studios Entertainment
Few career paths garner the kind of uncanny respect and even fear allotted to the nightclub doorman. He's the first (and sometimes last) thing that you see when out for a night on the town and has the ability to make or break your evening (and possibly, arm) -- well before you've had the chance to down so much as a single J├Ąger Bomb.

So, what is it that this mysterious and illustrious figure is really thinking, behind that steely and emotionless gaze, as he waves you in or boots you out?

Hint: it's probably not something positive. Courtesy of a former industry GM, here are ten ways to earn a scowl (if not outright rejection), on behalf of the bouncer who may or may not have kicked you out for trying to smuggle that bottle of Smirnoff Ice in da club way in the day.

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"Your World Offends Me": Cancerslug's Alex Story Discusses True Horror

Categories: Now You Know...

Photo by Jesse Sendejas, Jr.
"Fetus Milkshake."

"3 Days She Bled, 3 Days I Bathed."

"In the Dumpster Behind the Clinic."

These are a few of the better-known and loved songs from Alabama underground horror-punks Cancerslug. Alex Story, the group's founder and driving force, is aware his band's music might seem offensive to some. But before you show up with picket signs or your local clergy at their next show, consider his take on what he does.

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Top 10 Bands for Oogles, Gutterpunks and "Travel Kids"

Photo by Matt Derrick
My mother-in-law was a Depression-era kid, and she shared stories of the rail-riders who would pass through her small Louisiana hometown looking for work. They carried all they owned from place to place, stopping here and there to do odd jobs for dinner and a place to sleep. Those travelers became known as hobos, whose lifestyle was romanticized in songs of the period like "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"

History repeats itself, Meemaw often said, and she may have had a point. Our recent economic woes and general unrest have people once again exploring the country by railways and highways. The 2013 model of the American hobo goes by different names -- traveling kid, gutterpunk, oogle -- and isn't necessarily looking for work. Some are looking to escape the conformity or comfort of the suburbs; others are on one long city-to-city party.

Like their tramp forefathers, these new vagabonds turn to music to celebrate their way of life. Rocks Off asked a couple of experts to help put together a list of musical acts these modern-day hobos enjoy.

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People, It's Time For Yet Another Lesson In Concert Etiquette

Listen up, live music fans. It's time for an etiquette lesson. No, not a lesson on how to pour tea or eat crumbly shit without spilling down your blouse. This lesson is on concert etiquette.

Some of you may need it, some of you may not, but I'm sure you know a few people who could brush up on their concert-going skillz. In that case, you can pass this along to them now that you know it exists.

Now put your pinky fingers in the air and follow me. Let's do this. Here are some basic lessons in concert etiquette. We'll all be fancy by the end of this.

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Andrew WK's Top Five Partying Lessons: "Positive and Ridiculous Times You!"

Andrew WK is so many things: musician, motivational speaker, spokesman, and entertainer, but more than anything, the guy is a walking encyclopedia on the power of positive partying. As multitalented as he is, what he's really good at is looking at a situation and finding the party at the end of it.

Whether WK is dropping golden nuggets of partying wisdom on his Twitter feed (@AndrewWK) or schlepping sex napkins for Playtex, with their "Fresh + Sexy" campaign, he's a one-man party machine. And he does it all with that infamous bloody nose to boot.

That positive partying wisdom has helped catapult WK to the height of his career. He's gone from underground positive party guru and metal musician to a household name seemingly overnight. It makes sense, though, given the sheer amount of stuff he's been a part of this summer alone. Andrew WK is worldwide now, and using that exposure to spread his positive partying across the globe at a rapid pace.

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