In Defense of Tribute Shows

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A tribute show's audience is just as dedicated to the original bands as the ones on stage are, and will spot an imitator's lack of effort in a heartbeat. Just because they aren't bringing anything new to the table doesn't mean they aren't working hard to pay respect to the source material. There is a reason why that mohawked lead singer was given hearty handshakes by the appreciative audience. He must have gotten something right.

On the flip side, there are many musicians who get the band they are covering wrong. Pay a visit to Las Vegas and listen to a lounge singer muck up an old standard. For every Tool tribute band that takes the stage in dive bars across the country, there is a Tony Clifton in a pink puffy shirt butchering Tony Orlando and wondering why the crowd isn't responding, or four guys playing the least complicated songs from the Z107.7 playlist. These imitators, the cover bands that phone it in -- those are the musicians that tick off everyone. Original musicians despise them for stealing the audience. Hard-working tribute musicians loathe them because they're out there making them look bad. No one likes a glorified karaoke singer.

The participants in a tribute show love their subjects so much they want to show their love as best as they can. They're doing their best to recreate an experience for those who love a band as much as they do, or in my case, help give the uninitiated a chance to experience what they think makes the band so great in the first place.

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Jason Keil
Contact: Jason Keil

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