Via Pitchfork comes David Byrne musing on the uneasy symbiotic relationship between commercialistic pop art and pop art with artistic pretensions through which the big sell out acts make possible investment in the smaller ones which retain some credibility. A parallel situation can be found in the film industry where low budget indies are made possible by big budget mind-numbers.
Thank You U2!
Mark E pointed out as we prepped for our show last night in Warsaw (at a not so big club/venue called Stodoła) that these undersized dates are in effect being subsidized by U2’s world tour. The promoter of these dates, and of much of the U2 stadium tour, is Live Nation, the global conglomerate. A venue like Stodoła could not possibly afford to pay for us, the catering, or even their local crew given the relatively small number of tickets to be sold here — and it’s not even an “exclusive” VIP-type venue. It’s not like they can charge $200 a seat and make up their losses that way — this is a standing room club… with a floor made of plywood. So in order to book our date, they must (we figure) be losing money now, then making it up with what they expect to earn on the upcoming U2 stadium dates.
Those stadium shows may possibly be the most extravagant and expensive (production-wise) ever: $40 million to build the stage and, having done the math, we estimate 200 semi trucks crisscrossing Europe for the duration. It could be professional envy speaking here, but it sure looks like, well, overkill, and just a wee bit out of balance given all the starving people in Africa and all. Or maybe it’s the fact that we were booted off our Letterman spot so U2 could keep their exclusive week-long run that’s making me less than charitable? Take your pick — but thanks, guys!