Rock & rap arms race at the two political conventions


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The Republican and Democratic conventions are locked in an entertainment arms race. As they have with Super PACs and redistricting/gerrymandering, the GOP has so far outspent and out-maneuvered the Dems, securing at least eight big-name acts to the Democrats’ two. According to a July Showbiz400 article, Republicans are paying entertainers mega-bucks to lure them down to the big GOP convention in Tampa.

The Roots are scheduled to perform at Amos Southend on Sept. 3.
  • The Roots are scheduled to perform at Amos' Southend on Sept. 3.

To counter this entertainment onslaught from the right, the Dems have thus far booked The Roots at Amos' Southend and from the Black Eyed Peas; Flo Rida is scheduled for a non-partisan show at Time Warner Cable Arena and Camp Freddy is slated for a Sunday, Sept. 2, show at the N.C. Music Factory. True, the Queen City gets better music, but that’s hardly surprising since right-wing rockers are the aural equivalent of toxic sludge. But the Dems are concerned about the shortfall in their political party soundtrack.

Part of their problem is that MTV may trump the DNC. The erstwhile music network airs its Video Music Awards on Sept. 6, the same night Obama makes his acceptance speech. Currently only Alicia Keys and One Direction have chosen a live spot on the VMAs over an appearance at the DNC, but heavy-hitters Katy Perry, Rhianna and Drake have been nominated for awards. If they opt for MTV over Obama-Fest, it could lead to serious attrition in the DNC’s potential pop music roster.

Conversely, while the GOP’s big spending has filled their bill with a range of artists, it has made for some strange bedfellows. Longtime Jimmy Carter pal Gregg Allman is charging the Republican party animals more than $100,000 for a single show, while the progressive-leaning Drive-by Truckers are also making the trek to Tampa. [UPDATE: According to a Tuesday item at the website of CL's sister paper in Tampa, the Drive-by Truckers have cancelled their show during GOP convention week.] So much for The Good. The rest of the RNC slate includes The Bad (the fishbelly-white blandness of Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd, Journey, Better than Ezra, Robert Earl Keen) and The Ugly (frothing-at-the-mouth right-winger Kid Rock).

Strangely, there is still no sign of gonzo motherfucker Ted Nugent on the RNC roster.

One can hardly blame right wingers for hiring lefties to entertain them. Sure, there’s a core of conservative country artists, plus a handful of white-power bands that might click with the birther base. But what can the Republicans do for variety, other than resurrect Hollywood conservative Bruce Willis’ “Return of Bruno” shtick?

Otherwise, the RNC’s right-wing Woodstock could be as dire as Waxhaw political consultant Jason Lambert’s “Rock the Red” promises to be. Commencing at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Sept. 5, Rock the Red features Lee Brice, The Charlie Daniels Band and Travis Tritt. It promises to be just as appetizing as listening to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” on an endless loop.

No one should have to suffer through that.


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