Monday, July 28, 2014

The Grabby Problem (and Mr. Velvet Hands)

A fan grabbing some ass. Looks like she’s married too. 

So you spend a small fortune on a concert ticket in the pit next to the stage — why? You won’t be far enough from the stage to get a good look at it; your entire view will be of the legs of the performers, and a severely telescoped look at their heads. Your view will be impeded by a forest of hands holding up phones. The sound will not be engineered to resonate well at this distance. You will not be able to sit down. You will be squashed. You do it for proximity: the opportunity to make physical contact with the star.

Everyone on the economic end of the concert experience knows this; it’s why the star will devote considerable time during the show to slapping hands with those in the front rows. Some will even sit down on the edge of the stage to sing a song or two, legs dangling perilously among the fans. Stages are designed to facilitate this, with their promontories stretching out in configurations allowing for maximum front-row exposure.

And if you weren’t quite close enough to shake hands during the show, or just missed by an inch? Then if you hang around afterwards, chances are the star will too, staying to sign autographs as the house lights come up and the crowd files out.

It’s one of the big perks of the ticket price. But has the expectation of physical contact become so de rigueur that it seems a right to those who pay for the privilege? If you’re an excited, perhaps tipsy lady with a powerful crush on the star, where do you draw the line between being satisfied with the momentary hand touch and a full-on grope? What if you have the opportunity, and could reach the denim-clad crown jewels, say — the bull’s-eye — would you? And if you’re the star, how close do you let the ladies get to your wedding tackle? The Inky Jukebox has seen phone footage of the crotches of singers so close to the lens that surely, surely, such an opportunistic grope would have been not only possible, but possibly invited.

Some entertainers have reached a point in their careers where this sort of thing — the grabby problem — is a known issue. Tim McGraw, for example. There was the famous incident in which his wife, Faith Hill, freaked out on a grabby fan after she groped him onstage. There was a mixed reaction: on the one hand, folks thought Faith was being a tad Mama Bear in going after the fan; on the other, folks wondered why Tim himself didn’t respond in the same way.

Skip forward a few years, and here we are again: some woman makes a grab for McGraw’s well-muscled leg (and more?) — but this time, his wife isn’t around to kick ass, so he swats the offending  intrusion away. The trouble is, he makes contact with the woman’s face instead of her hand. And all hell breaks loose. Did he intend to slap a bitch? Of course not. He’s in the middle of a song. Did he do what he felt was immediately necessary to extricate himself? Yes. Case closed. The woman, however, is gunning for revenge (or an apology and cash), for the humiliation. Let’s get this clear: she reached for him, first, not the other way around. Case closed.

Tim McGraw is a veteran performer; he never fails to tell the audience this, as if anyone in the crowd didn’t already know. He is fully aware of what the ladies want. They want to touch his crotch. They want a “Real Good Man.” They do not want “Truck Yeah” or “Mexicoma” to make a set list ever again.

The Inky Jukebox has witnessed McGraw interrupt a show to ask fans to remove their beers from the stage. He cited safety reasons. The fans at McGraw shows are humped so close to the stage upon which he struts that there is nowhere else for them to rest their beers.

Does this mean Tim McGraw must now push his stage back to create distance between him and his fans? Does it mean no more hand-slapping during shows? Or does it mean that people need to respect the basic social boundaries that prevent us from grabbing at what we want whether we're in the front row of a show or at the supermarket?

Sometimes, an iPhone crotch-cam close-up has to be enough to satisfy. Gentlemen: take heed. Except Luke Bryan. Dude already has that angle covered.

(And Justin Moore: don’t stop. OK, you play bigger venues now, and have three kids. But still.)

Whoa, lady! What you grabbin’ at? (Picture cropped.)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rascal Flatts (A Little Too Fabulous!)

Come hither. Moody. Smoldering. Cock your pinkie. Forget the camera’s there. Or not. 

Rascal Flatts are known for making crisp, impeccably arranged country pop songs of a squeaky clean nature. The trio can play and can sing. They are consummate musicians. Every now and then a song of theirs will hit every single target on a made-for-radio cheat sheet: melody, lyric, composition, emotion, catchiness, punching the money notes, and their secret weapon: Gary Le Vox’s ability to skewer the sweet note right in the gonads at just the right moment so that it rings in your ears and brain like a temple bell. These are not notes a normal mortal person can hit; nor are they merely notes on a scale. They are the note plus the right timbre. What Rascal Flatts doesn’t need is studio tweaking (even though their recordings sound as polished as glass).

And yet someone thinks that what the group lacks in musical polish they need to make up for in visual buffing. Case in point: the liner notes for Rewind.

We’re just casually sitting here, legs akimbo, pondering this shotoshoot.

The album is liberally decorated with artfully arranged shots of all three men assuming poses that would not be out of place in a 1970s swimwear catalogue. If there’s a chummy male smoldering look they haven’t gone for, it doesn’t exist.

Three beefcheeses on a leather sofa on a riser just hanging out the way men do. 

Dudes don’t usually adopt these stances, and when they do — on a dare, say — and the results captured on camera and then shown to other people, they die of embarrassment. Gary, Joe Don and Jay all vie for the cringeworthy crown — with Joe Don leading the field due to his hair game, meticulously and impossibly coiffed and highlighted in such a way that his chin bristle struggles to remind us he’s a man. Don’t even mention the teefs.

The wonders of Photoshoppe made this “group” shot possible! 

Look: The Inky Jukebox loves the Flatts — they are essential when it comes to singing along loudly in your car — but Good Lord, Big Machine: lay off the Photoshoppe (misspelling intended), and hire a less flamboyant Art Director will ya? (Even if that means firing your wife.)