Saturday, August 26, 2006


On Tuesday morning I received the type of call it would be a lot more glamorous to pretend I received all the time.

THEM: This is ____ from Jive Records.
ME: Hi.
THEM: Do you want to see Justin TImberliake tonight at the House Of Blues?
ME: Umm....
THEM: I need to know in the next seven minutes.
ME: I will get back to you.

I don't mind Justin TImberlake, honestly. He's got some great singles and that new song, "Sexyback," has just beaten me down. My first reaction was, I'm not sure I like this. But the song kept insisting, "No, you're going to like me." And on the 40th or so involuntary listening, I agreed.

So, I said yes tot the tickets. And, I guess I'm glad we went. It was weird. The place was packed and it took forever to get in even though we had access to the VIP Foundation Room. We passed that to stand on the floor where Stevie kept getting elbowed by some drunken secretatry types who looked like they were no stranger to deep-fried foods.

I honestly don't know how I felt about the show, which we abandoned after five songs. The guy can sing, and beatbox, pop and lock, and play guitar and piano. I appreciate the showmanship. But on some level I'm not sure he's an entertainer. It all seems to be an enormous ego trip done not for your benefit but for his. It's probably no coincidence that his best song, "Cry Me A River," is also the one moment he lets himself seem vulnerable. The evening had one truly hall-of-fame strange moment: A song that ended with the riff from "Smells Like Teen Spirit" played repeatedly. Was I the only one who felt liked they'd stepped into another, strange world at that moment?

Timberlake deserves credit for keeping it organic. This was a heavily rehearsed, entirely live show. But I'm not sure his music is improved by being organic. Or live at all, for that matter. And how's this for patter: "Hey Chicago, we're going to play some new songs for you tonight. We picked the ones we thought Chicago would especially like. And if not, fuck you." Classy. Thing is the crowd talked over them anyway. I guess it doesn't matter if you're Justin Timberlake or The Mountain Goats, the new stuff just never goes over.

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