Please come to Houston! Pretty please???
Now this isn’t a sports blog – and I suppose you know that. But today we’re gonna talk a little about the NCAA Final Four basketball series, which will unfold here in Houston, Texas, next week. It’s the big college basketball tournament that will ultimately decide who’s No. 1 in the country.
However our focus is (as always) the music part of the program, which has been officially dubbed “The Big Dance.” A lot of sportswriter types also call the tournament itself “The Big Dance,” as well as “March Madness,” and yes, it’s a little confusing. But Houston’s “Big Dance” is going to be a three-day concert series open to the public in order to celebrate the basketball tournament.
The tournament itself is going to be in Reliant Stadium, a football palace in the south part of Houston, while the concert series is going to be in downtown Houston’s Discovery Green park – about seven miles north of the stadium. So far, just a little over a week before the concerts, they’ve only announced a few of the performers – Kings of Leon, Kenny Chesney and Sublime (with Rome). According to tour news site Pollstar, rapper Kid Cudi should join the Friday night lineup with Sublime, and country singer Pat Green should be teamed up with Chesney on Saturday.
UPDATE: Although Kid Cudi was listed in Pollstar at having been signed to play Friday, indie rockers the Hold Steady and Los Skarnales will play with Sublime with Rome Friday night. Openers for Saturday afternoon’s show include Vallejo, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Panic! At The Disco and Kings of Leon take the stage around 3 p.m. Schedule here.
Kings of Leon, on Saturday afternoon, is a pretty decent choice and should draw a fair-sized crowd. Chesney also has a huge fan base – he usually has a show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo but it looks like they were saving him for this. But Sublime with Rome?
If you want to see how lame “punk rock” in the 1990s was, just go no further than Sublime. In fact, the real Sublime doesn’t exist – lead singer/guitarist Bradley Nowell died in 1996. Sublime with Rome is the new band, with a new lead singer, after Nowell’s family challenged the use of the Sublime name by the surviving members. Can you imagine Nirvana without Kurt Cobain, the Police without Sting, or Double Trouble without Stevie Ray Vaughan?
Some blogger in Houston had some inside info that Big Dance planners were actually seeking Jay Z to play, but found Sublime with Rome instead. What? Can’t get the A list artist so you go with the D list? With the money they needed to throw at Jay Z, planners could have gotten ZZ Top – an actual Houston band – or just about anyone else. Sublime with Rome – what, Good Charlotte wasn’t free that day? Jimmy Eat World and the Spin Doctors had a gig?
To be fair, the NCAA wants this to be a “family” event so at least one or two second-tier rock acts should be expected. In recent years the Big Dance performers have included the Goo Goo Dolls, Stone Temple Pilots, Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects and 3 Doors Down. So let’s stop bitching about Sublime with Rome, and be thankful for Kings of Leon.
Now make sure you get there early – promoters are putting up fences around 12-acre Discovery Green park and they threaten to shut the gates if/when the park reaches capacity. Huh? Well that exact thing happened on March 17 in Austin, when more than 20,000 people flooded Auditorium Shores park to see the Strokes. Gates were shut, and there had to be about 10,000 more left out – of a “free” show! A handful of pissed-off people stormed the gates and knocked down fencing, causing a mad push that dangerously squeezed audience members close to the stage. No one seriously thinks that sort of thing is gonna happen in Houston. (Granted, the Strokes are pretty hot but … holy hell, that was an awful lot of people.)
Another thing: on the NCAA’s Big Dance concert series web page, it shows the Saturday event as going from 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m, with Kings of Leon as the headliner. Kings of Leon hit the stage around 7 or so, right? Wrong – check out the local Metropolitan Transit page and read the fine print: concert from 11:30-4 p.m., viewing party 4-8 p.m. Apparently they’re gonna have some big TVs set up so people can look at the basketball games after the live music. So if you’re driving downtown around 6 thinking you’re gonna see Kings of Leon, turn around.
We all sorta had to piece this together – this so-called “big event” has been horribly promoted. And if you are planning to actually attend one of these in person, my advice to you is to park somewhere else and take public transit in to downtown Houston. Houston METRO has park-and-ride options and a light rail system that will get you there – you may have to finish the job with a little old-fashioned foot power.
So, have a good week and Happy Final Four! Hope all your brackets are still intact. Let’s listen to Kenny Chesney who doesn’t need park and ride – he’s chopperin’ in to sing about cruisin’ around Houston, just “looking for some tush.” See you on Montrose, Kenny!