5 Albums That Deserve Outdoor All-Star Summer Tribute Performances
Big Star are to indie rock what ‘Field of Dreams’ — or maybe ‘Brian’s Song,’ given that we’re talking about a ’70s band — are to film. Mere mention of these Memphis power-pop pioneers makes grown men weepy and weak in the knees, and last night (June 30), a Who’s Who of reverent rockers past (Mike Mills of R.E.M., Marshall Crenshaw, Richard Lloyd of Television) and present (Kurt Vile, Sharon Van Etten, Pete Yorn) came together at Summerstage in New York City’s Central Park to perform Big Star’s ‘Third/Sister Lovers.’ Recorded in 1974 but not released until 1978, well after the group had split up, it’s a dark, difficult album, and its complex arrangements and even more complex emotions make it the perfect record for the kind of thoughtful orchestral run-through it received at Summerstage.
Still buzzing from last night’s show, we thought up five other albums that might make good candidates for all-star outdoor summer tribute concerts. Someone give us some grant money, and we’ll start booking the Porta Potties.
If this one ever happens, bring a comfortable chair. Described by guitarist Mick Jones as a record for people on arctic stations or floating oil rigs, the three-LP ‘Sandinista!’ was the Clash‘s staggeringly eclectic attempt to play every style of music within (or in some cases just beyond) their reach. There’s gospel, disco, hip-hop, soul and dub, and when they finish with those, they bring in kiddie choirs and spin tracks backward. The list of artists that could collaborate on a ‘Sandinista!’ tribute performance might span gospel and R&B singers — let’s have Mavis Staples try ‘The Sound of Sinners’ — to neo-disco troupes like Escort, who’d kill ‘Ivan Meets G.I. Joe.’
Ready to feel old? Next year marks 10 years since the release of the Arcade Fire‘s debut full-length. Back in 2004, everyone heard in this heavily orchestrated drama-fest echoes of Talking Heads, but it sounds little like anything that came before, and it’s influenced much of what’s come since. Everyone from Airborne Toxic Event to Mumford and Sons have roasted their musical marshmallows over the Fire’s sweet glow, and we’re envisioning a stage packed with violins and dudes in vests.
The title here is apt: This album was required listening for a generation of electronic artists, and by rights, anyone who today makes their living behind a sequencer or laptop ought to offer to polish Daft Punk‘s helmets. Our all-star outdoor tribute show might feature everyone from EDM superstar Deadmau5 to Flying Lotus, Toro y Moi and Kavinsky, and guitar bands are also welcome to crash the party.
When Coldplay sang ‘Yellow,’ rock got mellow, and it hasn’t been quite the same since. That’s not a knock, as this 2000 breakout hit arrived on the heels of teen-pop and nu-metal explosions and ushered in a decade of pleasant-sounding rock groups with stadium ambitions. Coldplay has made bigger, grander albums, but with its mix of low-key acoustic- and piano-driven numbers and shimmering U2-style jams, ‘Parachutes’ lends itself to a diverse cast of worshipers. Also, these types of shows tend to focus on less-loved discs, which brings us to…
No guitar band has been emulated more in the last five years than My Bloody Valentine, and any newfangled subgenre with the suffix “gaze” derives from the mega-distorted sound they invented in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The one everyone loves is 1991’s ‘Loveless,’ but ‘Isn’t Anything’ arrived a few years earlier and very much primed people’s eardrums for the pretty pummeling of that later classic. Our fantasy all-star band includes Asobi Seksu, the Big Pink, Tamaryn, Beach House and just about everyone on this list of the 10 Best Modern Shoegaze Bands. On show night, forget about the foo-foo BBQ and taco trucks — the smart money is in artisanal earplugs.