Stones: Let’s Spend Oct. 22nd Together

Rstonestoday.jpgThe life expectancy for a really good secret is somewhere around 5 to 7 days, judging by the late Friday appearance of the Rolling Stones rumor in the online Statesman.

This “happening” may well have been percolating longer than that, but at some point in the recent past, representatives from the Stones apparently contacted local promoters (take a guess) about putting on a show at Zilker. Some effort was made to discuss this with local constituencies outside the public eye, such as negotiating whether the band could receive AARP discounts on their park rental fees.

But now the genie is out of the bottle and so begins the inevitable hype escalation, particularly among Austin’s burgeoning hospitality industry, who will scarcely be able to sleep with images of tour packages and VIP pricing dancing in their heads. Members of the public and private sector will point to this as a seminal event for Austin, insinuating it must happen to cement our place atop the capricious worldwide live music ranking system.

Outside the marketing frenzy, what buzz is there to generate around the Rolling Stones in 2006? The Glimmer Twins haven’t had a relevant album in a quarter century, never met a promotion they didn’t like, and live on as “the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band” only within an appreciative historical context that recalls Exile on Main St. but ignores Dirty Work. Perhaps most telling is that the band that once mocked decency standards on the Ed Sullivan Show now gracefully bends over to Chinese censorship.

But they can still pack stadiums, recently drawing over a million fans in Rio. So why bother with a measly 40,000 fans in Zilker Park? Perhaps this is a clever attempt to apply a glossy sheen of hipness to an aging product, much as the ACL Festival has done for Austin City Limits. A dose of Austin’s pixie dust sprinkled under the stars might be just the magic needed to boost ticket sales for a tour delayed by Keith Richard’s head injury. Maybe I’m wrong about the motivation, but it feels like the Stones need a Zilker Park show more than Zilker Park, or Austin, needs the Stones.

The Statesman’s announcement is incomplete and premature, especially for an event at the intersection of a high-profile band and city bureaucracy. If the Stones come, I hope it will be because everyone has done due diligence to ensure that it’s the right thing for Austin and Zilker Park rather than succumbing to the allure of a public relations spectacle. And if the deal falls through, I can’t say that I’ll cry for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus; it’s not as though we haven’t heard the Satisfaction riff thousands of times already, and the lyrics are a bit too pervy coming from Grandpa Mick anyway.

photo from Wikipedia, (c) Rolling Stones

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