Before President Donald Trump's rally Thursday night at American Airlines Center, thousands of ardent supporters gathered outside on Victory Plaza to tailgate. A video of the festivities made the rounds on Twitter, offering images of red-hatted Trumpsters dancing to ... a band.
Which band, you ask? So do we. Despite the huge numbers of local and national press on the scene, we haven't been able to find the name of the band. News reports said only that the rally offered "live music." Maybe that was the band's name: Live Music. Sort of like The Band, but definitely not The Band.
And that's sort of our point: If you’re going to wage a culture war against your political opponents, it helps to have an actual sense of culture. As the video demonstrates, Trump’s base is severely lacking on this front. I mean, come on. Those line array speakers mounted on both sides of the stage must be at least $25,000. A stage this size would easily be able to accommodate the back line of an artist who normally plays midsized venues.
So why waste all of this on a band whose name nobody even knows? OK, presumably someone does. Drop us a line in the comments if you do, unless the band was playing incognito. We get that: A paying gig's a gig, gotta eat, etc. No judgment here. We'll reserve that for Trump's enabling political appointees.
Say what you will about Beto O’Rourke’s counter-rally in Grand Prairie, the entertainment was Dallas-based hip-hop/soul fusion band Cure for Paranoia, and when he ran for Senate, he tapped artists such as Willie Nelson and CAKE as headliners for his campaign events.
Trump’s campaign organizers couldn’t even play Prince’s “Purple Rain” or Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” without getting backlash from both songs’ rights-holders.
The GOP clearly suffers from a musical deficit. Mainstream Democrats can get Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Beyoncé to perform fundraisers (proving once again that two out of three ain't bad). Mainstream Republicans have held onto Ted Nugent, Kid Rock and John Rich for far too long.
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If you’re going to flaunt outspoken musicians to further your cause, fine, but at least get artists who are actually good. And yes, good conservative artists exist. Kanye West is probably the most notable example of this, although we can’t help but think conservatives didn’t fully take advantage of that. (He’s one of the greatest hip-hop artists of the last 20 years, as West himself will remind you.)
Dave Mustaine is an outspoken conservative who once endorsed Rick Santorum, and the dude was a co-founder of both Megadeth and Metallica — y’know, some of the most influential bands in metal. KISS' Gene Simmons, as insufferable as he is, has certainly left his imprint on pop culture.
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Another once-provocative rock musician, Alice Cooper, has said and done things that indicate at least conditional support for the GOP.
While Nugent is a conservative media favorite, they never take advantage of the fact that he inspired Ian MacKaye’s formation of the straight-edge lifestyle. (True fact! Google it.)
Even more criminal than all of this is how Moe Tucker of The Velvet Underground is outspokenly right-wing, and no conservatives with power even acknowledge her. Her simple style of drumming set new precedents in rock music and played a crucial role in the band’s first three albums. The Velvet Underground & Nico alone is one of the greatest achievements in 20th-century music, and Tucker was in the studio with Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico, Sterling Morrison and Andy Warhol for all of it.
How are we the ones pointing this out? It’s not for lack of great artists that conservatives are losing the music war. They just aren’t, as Trump himself once put it, “sending their best.”