Odds & Ends

Jack FM, Fatty Fest 2004 and Hard (Rock) Lessons

Apparently I'm not the only one who's secretly listening to the new free-format 100.3 Jack FM. On Sunday, a horribly unscientific poll of Lower Greenville stores unearthed three (three!) businesses with their radio dials tuned to 100.3. Though the playlist does veer toward cheese, it's accommodating enough for most tastes, especially as The Edge jumps into the Metallica zone and KISS-FM limps along in teen popville. In general, everything you've learned to hate about commercial radio is gone--no rigid format, no annoying DJs. The station does still play grating self-promotions, an endless string of listeners prattling on about how Jack FM changed their lives. During that point, though, I switch to NPR.

This Saturday will be Fatty Fest 2004, an all-day festival of punk, ska and hard rock running at the Lewisville Amphitheater from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The man behind the oddly named fest is none other than Fat Daddy himself, an industry player who wanted to create a good local musical environment for his teenagers. Bands on the bill include DV8, Minority, Henry Holt and Rockett Queen. Tickets are $10 in advance (www.frontgatetickets.com) and $15 at the gate.

Hard (Rock) Lessons

Among the more interesting things we learned on last Sunday's sloppy MTV Video Music Awards show was this: Mandy Moore and Marilyn Manson are fans of the Polyphonic Spree.

"If there were any justice in the world, this band would be the biggest in the country," Mandy Moore said in her introduction. Well, at least that's what we remember her saying. We weren't actually taking notes at the time. Then Marilyn Manson started talking, and we went to that special place inside our head reserved for uncomfortable situations and stories about sports.

The Spree, wearing colorful robes (not to be confused with Kanye West's white-robed gospel choir), put in a strong performance of their single "Hold Me Now" in an otherwise listless show, but it wasn't quite the stellar breakout performance they might have hoped for. The song petered out near the end, and lead singer Tim DeLaughter froze awkwardly as he was being raised (not far) into the air, making everyone wonder if the lift broke.

Technical malfunctions were par for the course at the VMAs, which took place in a gigantic, un-navigable auditorium in Miami. Jessica Simpson's hands shook violently as she sat perched in a high swing. Chaka Khan made a surprise appearance with a howl so off-key it could peel paint. And Hoobastank? Don't get us started. The crowd sang better than lead singer Doug Robb, who seemed three months late for the William Hung auditions. To speak in general terms, it was the lamest VMAs ever.

But here at the Dallas Observer, we want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. So we offer a few pointers for future MTV awards shows. Help us help you.

1. A host of problems. Even if he falls flatter than Mary-Kate Olsen, the VMAs need a host. So maybe Jon Stewart is tied up with the Republican National Convention, and maybe Dave Chappelle isn't interested in making more than tired cameos, but someone has to steer that ship. Anyone. Hell, we'll take Whoopi. (Just kidding, MTV. No Whoopi. No Whoopi, please.)

2. I want my MTV (not my USA). John Kerry's two daughters were booed when they appeared onstage for a toothless plug for the upcoming election (Jenna and Barbara Bush, who taped a segment previously, were met with silence). Did MTV misjudge its audience? More likely, the crowd simply resented the intrusion of national politics into their TRL. Also, they were possibly shaken by the appearance of tool Carson Daly. Or maybe that was just me.

3. Don't Grammy it up.

The VMAs built their rep by being the anti-Grammys, free of the posturing and filler that clogs other awards show. So why did the VMAs go so formal and stiff this year, ruining the very irreverence they helped to trademark? Next year, rough it up a bit, folks. Surely Jimmy Fallon is free.

 
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