Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ludacris + Summerfest = Bad Idea

Stick em up stick em up bitch stick em up
Put ya hands up where I can see em see em see em
Stick em up stick em up bitch stick em up
Target niggas wouldn't wanna be em be em be em

(Ludacris lyrics courtesy of Charlie Sykes. Now there's something I'll bet you thought you'd never see!)

Now I'm no crotchety old man when it comes to music. Sure, I may, on occasion, be overheard saying something like "what the hell is this crap?" when I hear the latest supposed hit on my trusty transistor, but most often that results from having just heard one of my favorite songs utterly destroyed. And I'm certainly not averse to rap, although my tastes in it may be somewhat dated. Why, it wasn't uncommon in college to find me with my tongue hanging out, bopping my head (my version of dancing) to Cypress Hill. And although I never did own a pair of Adidas, I will, from time to time, dig out my old cassette player and get tricky with Run-D.M.C.

My familiarity with Ludacris is, quite honestly, in name only. I've heard his lyrics aren't the most complimentary, to say the least, to either African-Americans or women. Frankly, I don't care. Having been on the receiving end of jabs about my musical tastes, I'll rarely question the tastes of others. People can be awfully fickle about what they'll listen to, so if others are willing to let me and Neil Diamond be, then I'll let them go on their happy way listening to whatever it is that puts a skip in their step.

Nevertheless, it would seem to me that having Ludacris as a headliner at Summerfest is a bad idea, if for nothing other than financial reasons. Having heard that Barack Obama met with Ludacris to enhance his credibility among black youth and now reading some of the rapper's lyrics, I'm willing to bet that much of Ludacris's fan base is made up of tweens and teens. I simply have as hard a time envisioning a 45-year-old black woman humming Get The F*** Back to herself as I would picturing myself walking around singing MMMBop. Keeping this in mind, consider that the vast majority of Summerfest's profits come not from concert ticket sales or admissions but, instead, concessions. And the most profitable of those concessions is going to be the alcohol. For better or worse, like it or not, booze makes Summerfest money.

With an abundance of beer tents and select locations offering harder libations, Summerfest is essentially a huge bar offering live entertainment. It's rare these days to find a bar showcasing an all-ages show, so why should Summerfest be any different? That right. I'm saying it. Summerfest should be a 21-and-up show. With little or no income and the inability to legally purchase alcohol, minor attendees offer little more than loitering when compared to adult attendees. And although so many of us adults loathe the idea of turning into that old guy shaking his fist at neighborhood kids as he yells at them to get off his damn lawn, the fact is that we may be more inclined to attend an event that caters to our needs without having to worry that Don Smiley and gang are also running a daycare. And don't even get me started on the asinine parents running their strollers into you as they try to make it to the Miller Oasis for the 10pm show.

So maybe I am a grouchy old curmudgeon, but at least I'm a realist who understands that Summerfest should probably stop trying to be everything to everyone. Acts like Ludacris may draw a big crowd, but at what expense? Thousands of underage rap fans who probably blew a week's paycheck on the concert tickets versus countless adults, black, white or otherwise, with money they're willing to spend but would rather sit that night out?

That's all this old fart has to say on this for now...I need to take a nap.

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