Nostalgia is a funny thing, especially where music is concerned. And bands on what can only be called nostalgia tours (OK, you could call them oldies shows, but I think my term is more accurate) must have it ... well, I'm not sure if it's good or bad.
Often these performers haven't taken the stage in a while, while some of them have never stopped performing. They travel city to city, usually each summer (it's no accident that the majority of these tours happen in the summer, as it's the most universally nostalgic time of year) and play the same songs they've been playing for 20, 30, even 50 years. Then again, they get the adulation from masses of people who at least partially drove them to be a performer in the first place, something many of them have often been lacking in their current lives. (Sure, grandkids are awesome, but it's hard to compete with the roar of a satisfied crowd.)
Plus, it's got to be a little weird knowing that the main reason people have paid money to come see you is to relive some segment of time from their past lives, often their teenage years, when music hits us the hardest. It must add a little pressure to do it right, to send those folks home with fond memories of their youth as opposed to disappointment that you can't sing the way you once could.
Similarly, with the passage of time comes the realization that you or your band is no longer popular enough, even with the nostalgia crowd, to warrant a tour of your own. That's why God created package tours, which cull a sampling of acts from a common, specific time and genre and send them out on the road, stopping to play, usually at casinos, along their route. This week three such tours, none of which has anything to do with the others (and one of which is not happening at a casino), make their way to Tucson.
Two of them happen on the same night, but promoters needn't worry: There's surely almost no crossover between the two.
The non-casino show of the trio will take place at the Fox Tucson Theatre, which is sort of fitting because its target demographic no doubt prefers the lush, indoor Fox, which sits right in the heart of downtown, to AVA at Casino del Sol, which is outdoors, much bigger, and requires a bit of a drive unless you live in extreme southwest Tucson. It's called the Happy Together Tour, and you can bet that if you go, you'll hear the titular tune, since Flo and Eddie of The Turtles, the band that performed it, will be there.
The Happy Together Tour comprises American (and in one case, Canadian) pop hitmakers from the 1960s and early '70s—basically a bunch of North American bands that were trying to compete with the British Invasion (and often sounded like it). Along with Flo and Eddie, the tour includes Chuck Negron (the lone Canuck), a former member of Three Dog Night and the one with the most hits here ("One," "An Old Fashioned Love Song," "Mama Told Me [Not to Come]," "Joy to the World," etc.); Gary Puckett and the Union Gap ("Woman, Woman," "Lady Willpower," "Young Girl," etc.); Gary Lewis and the Playboys, who are famously fronted by Jerry Lewis' son ("This Little Ring," "Count Me In," "Everybody Loves a Clown," "She's Just My Style," etc.); and Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders ("Kicks," "Indian Reservation," "Just Like Me," etc.). In other words, this one's aimed squarely at the Baby Boomers—and perhaps their kids, to whom these songs were no doubt passed down.
The Happy Together Tour begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 12, at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. Tickets for the all-ages show range from $43 to $77. For more info, check out foxtucsontheatre.org or call 547-3040.
On the same night, out at the Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheatre at Casino del Sol, music fans of a far younger stripe will be able to see the West Coast Fest, an unimaginatively named tour that brings together some of the biggest names in Left Coast '90s rap and hip-hop. Following what was supposed to be a one-off show in March, organizers saw the hunger for these acts and put together a tour, which embarked on an initial seven-show run in the spring. The dates were so successful the organizers booked another seven dates this summer and fall, with Tucson being one of the lucky seven. The OG tour features performances by E-40, DJ Quik, Mack 10, Warren G, Tha Dogg Pound, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Baby Bash.
West Coast Fest hits AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 12. Tickets for the all-ages show range from $35 to $85. For more info, head to casinodelsol.com or call 838-6700.
Out at AVA two nights later comes the Under the Sun Tour, a package show from the same era, but with a different demographic: fans of '90s alternative rock. (And, it should be noted, to add to this whole nostalgia-fest, that the West Coast Fest and the Under the Sun Tour sandwich a Michael Jackson tribute show at AVA on Saturday, July 13.) On the bill are Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Phoenix's Gin Blossoms, Vertical Horizon and Fastball, which means the show will basically resemble a few hours of listening to "classic '90s alternative" radio, minus the grunge and plus the visual of a bunch of middle-aged dudes performing their hits before your very eyes.
Be transported back to the Clinton years when the Under the Sun Tour hits AVA at Casino del Sol at 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 14. Tickets for this all-ages show run from $25 to $75, and you can purchase them using the information above.
KEEPING IT LOCAL
The inaugural inFest Tucson, which, according to its organizers, was "a summer DIY punk, hardcore, and metal festival in Tucson ... designed to promote the local scene and get some great bands together," was held last summer at the Nest Skatepark. This week brings us the sequel, inFest II, which takes place at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., on Saturday, July 13. The action will happen on two stages, and here's what the (tentative) schedule looks like:
Stereokiller.com Main Stage: Am.Are.Is (4 p.m.); Radiation Suitz (5 p.m.), Sex Prisoner (6 p.m.), Your Young (7 p.m.), Freedom Assault (8 p.m.), Sorrower (9 p.m.), Seas Will Rise (10 p.m.), Early Graves (11 p.m.), Murder Construct (midnight).
Axe of Contrition Side Stage: The Denied (3:30 p.m.), Kid Puto (4:30 p.m.), Pop Gestapo (5:30 p.m.), Flying Donkey Punch (6:30 p.m.), Swamp Wolf (7:30 p.m.), Self Inflicted (8:30 p.m.), American Standards (9:30 p.m.), Territory (10:30 p.m.), Gat-Rot (11:30 p.m.).
Doors for the all-ages inFest II open at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Advance tickets are a bargain at $10; they'll be $12 at the door. Questions? Head to rocktucson.com or call 629-9211.
ON THE BANDWAGON
There are lots of other great musical happenings around town this week that we didn't have time to discuss. Here are but a few of them: Rodrigo y Gabriela and Zach Heckendorf at the Rialto Theatre on Wednesday, July 17; the LowBrow Shakedown benefit for The M.U. Serrano Foundation featuring Tres Muertos, Justin Valdez y los Tortilla Makers and RedRum Brigade on Friday, July 12; KXCI fundraiser with The Bluerays at T.O.P.S. (top of the Pennington Street Garage) on Saturday, July 13, as part of Second Saturdays Downtown; Johnette Napolitano on the Hotel Congress Plaza on Saturday, July 13; Noche de Flamenco Musica y Danza with Tesoro, the Gabriel Ayala Trio and Belly Dance Tucson at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, July 12; Burnt Ones and The Resonars at Tucson Live Music Space (TLMS) on Friday, July 12; Goldenboy featuring The New Familiar at Plush on Sunday, July 14; Sonny Vincent at The District Tavern on Wednesday, July 17; Anjelah Johnson at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, July 13; Alaska, Signals, Feeble Contenders and 1819 at TLMS on Wednesday, July 17; screening of the documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me at The Loft Cinema on Saturday, July 13; The Manx at TLMS next Thursday, July 18; Texas Trash and the Trainwrecks and Broken Spoke at Plush on Saturday, July 13; Adestria and lots more at The Rock next Thursday, July 18; Surfapaboza with The Furys, Shrimp Chaperone and Big Galoot at Monterey Court on Friday, July 12.
Finally, we'd like to wish a fond farewell to Noah Gabbard, singer/guitarist of Bombs for the Bored and former guitarist/singer for HAIRSPRAYFIREANDGIRLS, who will be relocating to Salt Lake City this week for a job. Thanks for all the great music over the years, Noah, and best of luck to you!