Rock Star - 8/20 Live Performance Report **MAJOR SPOILERS**
Okay, I’ll admit it upfront: I was feelin’ pretty darn grouchy on Sunday, so I wasn’t feelin’ a lot of love for the Rockers this week. None of them sucked, and they all turned in solid, professional performances. It really was a good show overall. But, if you’ll permit me to indulge my Inner Grouch a bit: I expect more at this stage of the competition. We are on the verge of some very tough eliminations ahead, and being “very good” ain’t good enough anymore. I want “stellar” and “incandescent” and “awesome” – and I honestly didn’t get that this week. So, with that said, on with the show:
Patrice – Beautiful Thing (Original Song)
Patrice played the guitar (again) for her original song – a happy little pop ditty that was about as far away from Supernova as I imagine you can get. She was perfectly fine, and perfectly meh to me. Dave congratulated her on her “great” original song, said she sang it well, but reiterated what he previously said to Zayra: that he saw her better as a solo artist. Tommy thought the song was “really cool” but “slightly happy for us” – though he thought they could make it work. Both Gilby and Jason were complimentary, but also had questions about whether the song (and Patrice) were right for SN. My Inner Grouch thinks Patrice will not be around another week.
Magni – Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
Magni has already shown he has the vocal chops for this type of song. He can belt out the choruses full-blast, yet his voice doesn’t deteriorate into mere screaming. My Inner Grouch, however, would like to see a more focused physical performance from him, as he sometimes looks a little directionless. Still, Dave called it “vocally great” and complimented Magni on paying attention to the lyrics. “When a song calls for angst, you give us angst.” Gilby has no doubt that Magni will be successful, but is still looking for that “extra thing” from him – especially in regards to pulling the audience in. Jason praised the energy coming off the stage, and admitted that he was one of Magni’s “biggest fans”. However, in the most head-scratching bit of criticism of the night, Tommy had problems with the fact that Magni didn’t play guitar on the song. Apparently in Tommy’s mind, this song is so associated with Kurt Cobain playing guitar, that he feels something is wrong if you don’t. Magni responded that (a) it’s a four chord song that doesn’t require anything beyond the 2 guitars already on stage; and (b) he wanted to move around and not be strapped to one place. To which Tommy responded that, just because you’re playing guitar doesn’t mean your performance has to suffer. You can just “play it, smash it, and move on”. (You’ll want to remember these comments during the next performance.)
Ryan – Back of Your Car (Original Song)
Another original song – and another guitar-playin’ Rocker. Fortunately (for him), Ryan’s song was a lot more Rock than Patrice’s had been. Unfortunately (for me), Ryan once again came off as something of a fauxRocker – never more so than when, near the end of the song, he ripped off his guitar and threw it across the stage. Now, maybe he had planned to do that before Tommy mentioned it to Magni – but my Inner Grouch kinda doubts it. It’s precisely stuff like this that makes me question his authenticity. “Piano Man” Ryan I can buy; it’s “Rocker Dude” Ryan I have trouble with. Dave, however, loved it – saying that it was the most “rockin’” he’s seen Ryan be and that he was “very impressed”. Tommy “dug it” and said it was the most comfortable he’s seen Ryan be. Gilby thought it was his best performance to date, but asked if Ryan could see that song as a SN track. (Ryan admitted that he could.) Jason wanted to know when the song had been composed – (answer: About a year and a half ago) – and encouraged Ryan to keep moving forward.
Storm – Cryin’ (Aerosmith)
The reality clips at the top of the show featured Storm and Ryan tussling over doing the Original Song, with Ryan declining Storm’s invitation to box for it (heh). Storm eventually gave in and took this song instead - for which my Inner Grouch is grateful (as the thought of Ryan trying to take on Steven Tyler is more than I can bear). And Storm did a fine job on it. I’m liking her more each week, though my IG is still waiting for that one breakout performance that kicks her to the next level and makes me into a true believer. Dave said she was “awesome… a thousand times better than last week.” Tommy thought it was “cool”. Jason felt the song started out as karaoke, but that Storm made it her own by the end. And Gilby said it was “good”, but wants more memorable and extra-special performances at this stage. (Hmmm… I wonder if my Inner Grouch’s name is Gilby?)
Dilana – Every Breath You Take (The Police)
Initially, my Inner Grouch was going to snark on the song selection – she streaked for this? - until Dilana explained to SN that this was her (estranged) mother’s favorite song and that she hoped some day her mother would find out she sang it. So the IG loses out – and there’s not much else, since Dilana seems to be fairly Grouch-proof. Wait! How about this? She did NOT blow the roof off or give me chills. In fact, I would put this in the bottom half of my favorite Dilana performances – which still puts it above almost everybody else’s. (My IG is now satisfied and can move on.) Dave thought she did a “great job”. Tommy said she is “universal”, that women want to be her and that men want to…. Gilby praised her instincts, saying they are “so good” and that she has “It”. Jason agreed with Gilby, and also gave her props for paying attention to the vocal coach, saying she showed them “the beautiful voice you have in there.”
Toby – Layla (Derek and the Dominos)
It sounded like there was a rough patch at the beginning of this song for Toby. Either he, or the House Band, or the audience – or some combination of all three – were off beat for a couple bars. But things got back on track by the time Toby stripped off his shirt (revealing E V S – slang for “whatEVer” – written across his bare chest) and bolted over to the Rockers Pod. (My Inner Grouch wonders why Toby has turned into “Gimmick Guy.” I still love his voice, but miss the energetic simplicity of his earlier performances.) Dave thought it was “entertaining” and told Toby he really “brought it” vocally. Tommy wasn’t sure about the song choice and didn’t think it was something SN would do. Of course not, replied Toby, ‘cause Layla is Eric Clapton and they are Supernova. (Snap!) Gilby admired the risk Toby took changing a classic; though he didn’t care for the arrangement, he thought the actual performance was “amazing”. Jason felt that Toby “lost the plot” and some of his “tonality”, but he did like his energy.
Lukas – All These Things That I’ve Done (The Killers)
Man, I sooo wanted to like Lukas doing this song. But when he kept turning his back on the audience again, my Inner Grouch got pissed. (No, it wasn’t as bad as Celebrity Skin, but still? What’s up with that?) At least Gilby called him on it, asking why he turns his back on us so much? Lukas responded that he just loves the House Band and wants to sing to them, too. (Aww, that’s nice, Lukas - but I ain’t payin’ to see you sing to Tommy Lee when you end up fronting Supernova.) But my peevishness aside, the judges loved it. Dave said he “set the bar” for the night and that it was “unbelievable.” Gilby said he did a “great job” (despite the back-turning) and that he really makes songs his own. Jason thought it was Lukas’ “most professional” vocal so far, and that he was “almost convinced” that Lukas could handle the volume required for a SN concert. Tommy only had two words for Lukas: “Check please!” (Those of us standing by the Rockers Pod wondered how to take this comment, as it sounded dismissive. But my fellow attendees standing near the Supernova Pod insist that Tommy meant it as a compliment.)
Well, there you have it. As for the Bottom 3, your guess is as good as mine (though Patrice seems like a safe bet). Same goes with the encore. I doubt they would give both the Supernova track and the encore to the same person, but ya never know.
One last thing before I go: This was the worst audience yet. Last week’s was pretty poor – but since it was a low-key show, I didn’t blame them much. But there’s no excuse for how dead they were this week. Even being burdened with my IG, I was able to muster more enthusiasm than a lot of the people there. I think too many sponsors are sending too many non-fans to the tapings. We saw the same thing happen last August – and it just sucks the life out of the show.