Scene & Herd - Stapp infection
Gag me with a spoon
Former Creed lead singer Scott Stapp had a memorable February.</
He got married and, shortly thereafter, was arrested for public drunkeness on the way to his honeymoon.
A few days later, a video clip of Stapp and Kid Rock having sex with groupies began circulating online. The clip's most memorable image is of Stapp, with a groupie's head in his lap, looking directly at the camera and saying, "Hey, it's good to be the king." The groupie just laughed. Fame, it seems, is such a powerful aphrodisiac that not even an act as profoundly unsexy as quoting Mel Brooks during sex can neutralize its effects. May the Schwartz be with him.</
Stapp ended February by kicking off his first solo tour. The second night of the tour was at the Roxy Theatre last Friday. Stapp's backing band (all of whom, by the way, looked like they'd just gotten off the afternoon shift at Guitar Center) were excellent. It's a tight, good band.</
Unfortunately, the band was charged with the thankless task of playing Stapp's music. Every one of his songs is a sludge-metal paean to emotionally constipated manhood. You know what I mean — the type of songs where every emotion that's expressed, be it yearning, loss, love or fulfillment, all sound like anger.</
Stapp expresses his anger through his constant use of VedderSpeak. VedderSpeak is the style of singing popularized by Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder and popularized in the early '90s via the songs "Alive" and "Jeremy." The primary characteristics of VedderSpeak are the constricted bellow and adding extra syllables to otherwise easy-to-pronounce words. "Man," "life" and "breath" are invariably sung "maaaay-yun," "liiiiie-yuf," "braaaaay-yuth." And "pain" is, of course, "pay-yun."</
The audience, not surprisingly, loved it. The place was only about two-thirds full, but it was nevertheless louder than any sold-out show I've been to at the Roxy. Fists were in the air for every song. The numbers of fists varied depending on the song. Creed songs like "Higher" and "Six Feet from the Edge" got the most fists, while the first encore, an acoustic rendering of "With Arms Wide Open," got fists and lighters.
The following evening, I went to the Variety Playhouse for a performance by legendary guitarist Robert Fripp.</
If you've got a David Bowie greatest hits CD in your collection, you know Fripp. He's responsible for the memorable guitar squeeks and squalls on the songs "Heroes" and "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)." Before hooking up with Bowie, Fripp founded King Crimson, the group whose 1969 debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King, was to metal and progressive rock what the Ramones were to punk rock.</
Somewhere in the middle of all that, Fripp pioneered a new way of playing his instrument. In the early 1970s, he began playing his guitar through a bank of effects and processors — a setup that became known as Frippertronics. Frippertronics allows Fripp to create live, solo music that sounds like a string section, keyboardist and a guitarist instead of just one guitarist.
On Saturday night at Variety Playhouse, by himself, he improvised a gorgeous, multipart piece that sounded like it was coming from an avant-garde string quartet. Fripp performed two pieces, with an intermission between them filled with a Q&A. Before the Q&A, though, Fripp pulled out a copy of local music mag Stomp & Stammer and dismantled the magazine's awkwardly worded (but complimentary) preview of his show. He even had the preview's writer stand up and explain what he meant when he wrote that Fripp is a "master guitarist." When the writer answered that a master guitarist is someone whose work makes listeners "resonate emotionally" with what they hear, Fripp stuck his finger in his mouth and pretended to vomit.</
Saturday!: Prior to Saturday evening's Frippery, I visited two exciting events, the Georgia Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages 2006 conference, and the Amp'd Mobile Supercross motorcycle race at the Georgia Dome.</
Believe it nor not, the Georgia TESOL was the more exciting of the two. I don't mean that as a knock at Supercross. It's just that the speaker at Georgia TESOL had an amazing story.
The speaker's name was Chris Barbic. Barbic taught public school in Houston for six years. Fed up with a system that was failing so many poor, minority children, he started the YES College Preparatory School in Houston. YES is a charter school for grades six through 12. Through the hard work and dedication of its staff, the school has become the top performing high school in Texas despite that it has less money than other schools in the state and — get this — operates out of trailers parked on a vacant lot. Congress should legalize cloning for the express purpose of making more Chris Barbics.</
Less exciting to me, but more exciting to about 70,000 other people, was Supercross. Supercross is a dirt motorcycle race and the manliest weekend leisure activity this side of shooting your hunting companions in the face.</
I walked around the stadium for several hours, watching the race's opening ceremony and first semi-final race with two men who told me they've been to every Atlanta supercross race in the past 20 years. They filled me in — telling me who's who and what to expect of each racer. They noted that racer James Stewart is the only African-American racer on the circuit, he's a nice guy, and he was leading the series as of that evening.</
"Why did some people boo him when he was introduced?" I asked.</
"It's just the camouflage crowd," one of them explained.</
For more of Andy's adventures, visit Scene & Herd at andy2000.org.