Political party conventions are the worst rock concerts ever. Since they’re televised you get to see just how lame the events are. They say it’s cooler for the people attending in person but then that’s more like a party and I’ve never enjoyed watching a party on television. Face it, MTV Spring Break specials always sucked.
Parties shouldn’t be televised because it’s about watching other people having a good time and not about me getting entertained. On the radio, political concerts are a little better—you get to focus on the one part they clearly spend any effort on: the speeches. Rarely however, does anyone rock a political speech so much that you just have to go out and buy the live album recording.
I mean I get it; the D.C. crowd doesn’t feel like they have to try so hard because they regularly feel like rock stars on Capitol Hill—they have their own tour busses, they get VIP treatment everywhere, they have total access to sex and drugs and if they want their candy bowls free of brown M&M’s, then by God no one gets a bill passed until that bowl is set right!
But although riding the wave of their popularity and creative marketing genius during most of the year is fine, when it comes time to put on the show of shows, they need to bring it or else no more candy for you!
So to help our two political parties deliver better performances at future conventions, I’ve assembled these simple rules to putting on a successful stadium concert:
Rule #1 – Fill the Stadium With Sound
Political concerts always introduce a speaker with a pre-recorded song, which you think would do the trick right? But no, the song gets cut off just as the speaker gets to the mic and starts yelling their monologue as if the microphone doesn’t exist.
A cut off song followed by yelling an entire speech does not constitute sound. First off, the only yelling a performer should do in a concert is the greeting, “How ya doin’ Los Angeles!” And the farewell, “Thank you, Los Angeles!” You get a few extra yells if you can make sounds like “Yeah!” and “Woo!” sound melodic and cool but after Howard Dean a few years back, I’d advise against it.
Otherwise, the only other noise you need to make is enough to continually fill the space with sound. Crowd claps and cheers aren’t enough—for that, stick to a House of Blues near you and shave a few million off the price tag.
What these conventions need is some music throughout the speeches and if the politicians and speakers can’t talk with a song playing behind them, then they’re too lame to lead.
Rule #2 – Wear Something Eye Catching
Lady Gaga would never have gotten anywhere on her songs alone. To grab the attention of an audience you need to dress as big as the venue. Don’t wear what you always wear and definitely don’t wear a suit unless everyone in the band is wearing the same suit. This is where politicos always fail. They all inevitable show up in suits that are neither retro nor matching. Each one wears a different colored suit that screams, “I’m not on trend!” For once I’d like to see the few in shape politicians, male or female, wear skinny suits with skinny ties.
Rule #3 – MOVE!
If you’re putting on a show, you need to move. Politicians can’t just stand there behind a podium and expect to hold a crowd that big. Even the most boring musician lifts his guitar now and then. And don’t bring up the age issue. Mick Jagger still goes from one end of a stage to another and Ozzy Osbourne walks at least a few steps to the left and to the right before hunching over to sing.
Rule #4 – Effects, Visuals, Design
If you’re spending over $50 million, then I don’t want to see balloons and confetti—I want to see some pyrotechnics. I want a light show that is the equivalent of some giant walking Iron Maiden Eddie (maybe a giant elephant or donkey would do), non-linear projections and real set design. I want to be able to watch an entire convention and say, “I don’t know what any of them said but damn that was a great show!” Which is what I say about
Rule #5 – GOOD Music
This does not necessarily mean new music so don’t pander to everyone younger than you but at least choose songs that aren’t so horribly inoffensive to the general public. When I go to a show, I want to know I’m at a show! Don’t give me music that transports me to the wedding of a cousin I never met.
So Republicans and Democrats, if I, as a taxpayer, am helping to fund half of your conventions then I want to see a concert worth the over $50 million spent producing them.
It’s time the RNC and the DNC stopped acting like singer songwriters misplaced in an arena concert. It’s time they put on their tight fitting pants and put on a show! But if their Washingtonian ways are too ingrained and they can’t break out of the daily mold to deliver a multi-million dollar experience then at least they should stop complaining about how each side is not taking care of our budget problems and use the millions they raise for their uncool speech events towards solving our financial woes.
‘Cause when you can’t make it explode, ya better share the load.