Marie Ulven Ringheim, aka Girl in Red, at Music Midtown in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Sept. 18, 2021.
(Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
Marie Ulven Ringheim, aka Girl in Red, at Music Midtown in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Sept. 18, 2021.
(Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
The Unmasked Festivals, UMG's IPO, Jay-Z v. Damon Dash, Three-Minute Songs, Mickey Guyton...
Matty Karas (@troubledoll), curator September 20, 2021
quote of the day
When bands would load in, it used to feel like sort of a hassle—but now, whenever we have a band loaded, I'm excited for the running around, and lifting heavy things, and crazy things like that. It reminds me that we're back at it.
rant n' rave


You could hardly throw a drumstick this weekend and not hit a festival somewhere in America. MUSIC MIDTOWN in Atlanta with MEGAN THEE STALLION, 24KGOLDEN, 21 SAVAGE and MACHINE GUN KELLY. RIOT FEST in Chicago with the SMASHING PUMPKINS, NINE INCH NAILS and RUN THE JEWELS. On a jam-packed beach in Asbury Park, N.J., PEARL JAM, the AVETT BROTHERS and, again, why not, the Smashing Pumpkins at SEA.HEAR.NOW. You needed proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to get into any of them. Masks, not so much. Photos from all these fests made clear that masks aren't nearly as popular as they should be; more disturbingly, reports from Riot Fest made clear that not even the staff had much interest in covering up. "Riot Fest doesn't seem to be taking the whole COVID thing seriously," said the headline of an A.V. Club story reporting that "maybe 1 in 40, 1 in 50" festivalgoers packed tightly in front of stages were masked, while "somewhere between one third and one half of the staffers working the gates"—the people checking everyone's vaccine cards, that is—were maskless. Among the security staff, the percentage was worse. (For what it's worth, a writer for another site, Consequence, reported that his vax card and ID were "carefully scrutinized," even if it was a maskless person doing the scrutinizing.) I have no interest in scolding kids for being kids (or even adults being adults) at outdoor events, no matter how crowded, but event staff is a different story. Come on, people. Set an example. Encourage fans to follow that example, even if the final choice is going to be theirs. Show them how easy it is to do. And don't put them in literal danger every time they walk up to you to show you their ticket or their proof of vaccination. It's really, really not that hard. And this is on you, promoters and festival organizers.

You'd hope people would know better in an environment where that Covid thing isn't close to being over and the livelihoods of touring musicians remain very much in danger. Here's BOB LEFSETZ on the current economic math for touring rock bands. "You think the business is back, but the truth is it’s still in flux," Lefsetz writes. And "the acts that are out there, the big ones, have Covid protocols that will blow your mind." As, I might add, they should. And here are responses from his readers, in which we learn, for example, that both LEON BRIDGES and DAWES canceled shows in Boston over the weekend. JASON ISBELL, one of music's more vocal mask and vax proponents, did play Boston, but with strict scrutiny at the door and nearly complete mask coverage inside. Which seems like the smart way forward, if not the only way forward, for reasons of both health and economics. If you cover it, they will come. Even HARRY STYLES might come.

In Totally Unrelated News

"Vaccination rates among American youth skyrocketed to 80 percent" within six months of ELVIS PRESLEY getting the polio vaccine on national TV in 1956.

Etc Etc Etc

KATY PERRY, NAS, the CHAINSMOKERS, MARTIN BANDIER and GUY OSEARY are among the musician and music industry investors in the decentralized, blockchain-based streaming startup AUDIUS. "Everyone who uploads to Audius can be an owner," Nas tells Rolling Stone. "You can’t say that about any other platform"... SOUNCLOUD claims PORTISHEAD's cover of ABBA's "SOS," released this summer as part of the streaming service's experiment in user-centric royalties (SoundCloud calls them "fan-powered" royalties), earned the group six times as much income as it would have earned under a standard streaming royalty model... MATTEL has introduced a music-producer BARBIE doll as part of an initiative aimed at "leveling the playing field for girls in careers where women are underrepresented," which is more than most music companies are doing on that front... Does SPOTIFY need a dislike button?... "TV, you got what I need" is an objectively terrible chorus, even for a light tribute/parody on a TV awards show, but otherwise huge props to the EMMY AWARDS for remembering BIZ MARKIE in the opening of Sunday night's awards with a performance by LL COOL J, LIL DICKY, RITA WILSON and CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER. The Biz, who died in July, was a familiar face on TV shows including YO GABBA GABBA! and HIP HOP SQUARES... POSSESSED singer JEFF BECERRA walks for the first time in 32 years.

Rest in Peace

Master timbales player RALPH IRIZARRY... Acclaimed Cajun fiddler COURTNEY GRANGER of the Pine Leaf Boys... Up-and-coming South Florida rapper WIZDAWIZARD.

Matty Karas (@troubledoll), curator

September 20, 2021