Some of the best shows I've ever seen have been when bands are right on the cusp of widespread success. Bands that you could still catch in a small room, but that sounded way bigger. You just knew you were lucky to see them at close range. The venues were packed with a palpable sense of anticipation and this-is-the-place-to-be spilling out the door and into the street.
The first time this happened to me was when The Whigs played their first show in Nashville at The Basement. They opened with a menacing keyboard part and launched into to "Nothing is Easy." That was the loudest show I had seen at that point in my life; it was my purest encounter with rock and roll yet. Other bands have done this since–Jay Reatard, Harlem, MGMT, Smith Westerns, and Ty Segall's cover band The Togas.
I've always thought that if I could choose any classic rock band to see at the turning point of their career it would be The Rolling Stones. I'd love to see them right after they had established their sound and were starting to write songs, but before the masses caught on. Did they play any clubs when they were in Chicago recording "Time is on My Side" at Chess Records? That's when I'd like to see them.
Since that will never happen, I propose something else–a current Rolling Stones tour at the venues across America that you'd normally catch an-up-and-comer at today. Here's how it should go down: they charge $10 for the show, just as the club or bar would for any other show, and then quietly announce the dates on each venue's website. Most people will think that the venues are kidding, but word will get out and everyone would get a fair shake at getting in.
The Stones are gonna lose money on this, so they'd have to think of it like a charity thing. But what better could they do for the world? Donate some of their money to try and eradicate malaria? Sure, that would help some people, but probably the most good they could do would be to continue changing lives with their music. And this would be a life-changing tour for a lot of folks.
I've listed the venues I propose, but there are a lot of areas of the country that I don't know anything about, so send us an email if you think there's a venue we should add. If The Stones aren't game, then maybe we could get Neil Young. I'm gonna go email some managers.
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