Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sound Strike, the Boycott's Not Working as Well as You Think

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Listen Sound Strike people: I get it. The immigration bills are terrible. Our state has a lot of problems. But maybe it's time to stop patting yourself on the back on how great the boycott is going and help us out a bit instead.

Martin Cizmar from the Phoenix New Times has a post up on their music blog, Up on the Sun, about the boycott's misguided nature:

Now, The Sound Strike is "renewing" the call for boycott and bragging about the hits they've put on Arizona businesses. According to their web site, "only a handful of major acts have played in Arizona since the passage of SB 1070 in April of 2010."

One problem: That claim is not even a little bit true. And to whatever extent it is true, it's a function of scheduling, not politics.

Yes, Arizona has been passed over by a few socially-conscious indie rockers and rappers, as everyone predicted, but the big money tours keep coming. Younger, hipper Arizonans may be disappointed not to see their favorite band because of the boycott but the real cash cows haven't avoided this pasture. The only real effect? The choir isn't getting preached to. Let's look at the facts.

The first sign that The Sound Strike is puffing up their influence comes from a line in the press release naming four acts they've got to cancel shows: "Kanye West, Pitbull, Cypress Hill and My Chemical Romance."

Kanye West did recently cancel a show in Arizona — his "Fame Kills" co-headlining show with Lady Gaga was supposed to open here but was scrapped after the Taylor Swift fiasco. That, of course, was long before the SB 1070 fracas. Right now he only has one tour date scheduled — at Coachella, just over the state line in Indio, California. Will 'Ye bring his My Dark Twisted Fantasy tour to Arizona? I'm not holding my breath, but it's too soon to say.

Pitbull also canceled a concert in Arizona. And his cancellation was actually related to SB 1070. The problem with The Sound Strike's claim, however, is that Pitbull has since backed out of the boycott and played a show in Phoenix. Claiming him seems disingenuous to the point of fabrication.

My Chemical Romance also tried to back out of the boycott but quickly caved to pressure and canceled their Tempe date claiming it was an "oversight." The entire mascara-covered debacle should shame the band and their management.

Cypress Hill did cancel a May 2010 show.

From there, Martin goes through the list of the biggest tours of 2010, most of which stopped in Arizona. Yeah, it stinks that a bunch of biggish indie acts have skipped the state, but looking at the listing of shows from Stateside Presents, just as many are still playing here. Honestly, as someone who goes to quite a few concerts, I haven't noticed that much difference, which is probably to the credit of the promoters and venues in town working hard to stay open and relevant. Has the boycott made it tougher to get groups to play here? Probably, but it isn't bringing music to a halt.

Even further, Latin music acts who once aligned themselves with Sound Strike are starting to come back to town, whether it's Ozomatli for the civility benefit, Los Lobos at the Rialto, or Los Tigres Del Norte (who are prominently featured on the Sound Strike website) at the Pima County Fair. I think (and hope) musicians are getting wise to the power they have and how it's wasted through the mechanism of a boycott.

Plus, who's losing out when Los Tigres Del Norte skips town? The fans, all of whom likely aren't fans of the immigration nonsense going on here anyway. The best way to stick it to Russell Pearce is always going to be in building community, spreading information, and acting within the state's borders. Unfortunately, the Sound Strike still hasn't figured that out.

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