Cover bands. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re all over the place at Summerfest.
Cover Bands have always been a staple at Summerfest, especially during the family-oriented afternoons; and why not? Familiar music, if played competently, can be a perfectly workable background while you are meeting friends, getting some food, laying down a first round of beers….
In recent years, though, a more troubling trend has appeared: Tribute Bands, cover bands solely devoted to reproducing a particular band’s sound and even look. This has resulted in some of these bands even snagging prime time spots in the lineups.
You know, I don’t mind the cover and tribute bands so much, for all my whining about them. I like some of them, and in the case of bands like Musical Box, they are a way to experience a long gone band’s notable performance.
But, I really do think the prime spots should go to working, recording, and struggling bands. Look: Animation (Rush) and Light Up (Styx) and U2Zoo (U2) are all weekend warriors with normal jobs and careers, and have no shortage of slots at all the county festivals or cheesy bars they could want. A former roommate of mine became solely a cover artist because the money was so much better (although he played bass he is NOT Danny Miranda). Heck, these days I even prefer Light Up to the ACTUAL Styx (and last year they were both at Summerfest).
Wife Sublime and I are pretty big Rush fans, and the other day we stopped by the stage to see Animation. And we agreed; technically they were pretty much spot on, and they tagged the three piece sound very well, the crowd was into them.
But it was…boring. Something was missing. Some kind of energy, some joy, some….passion. The passion of being a Creator, perhaps? I dunno.
So check out cover bands and tribute bands during the day, why not? But don’t look for me there: I will be wandering the grounds, looking for the passion.