Thursday, November 1, 2007

Maroon 5 - Trying to Break the Curse of the Grammy's Best New Artist Award

Maroon 5 in concert with The HivesThe Maroon 5 concert was last Friday night at the Toyota Center in Houston, home to the Houston Rockets. Considering how popular the band has been the past few years The Blot expected a packed, crazy concert with tons of young kids running around. I should have known something was up when we got to the show an hour and a half late (my girl Al and I didn’t have much interest in seeing the two opening bands) and found free parking on the street. In fact most of the paid parking lots around the stadium were only half full. The scene outside was nothing like the many other Rockets games and concerts I have attended was pretty much dead. But at first we just thought maybe because Maroon 5 skewed so young that either most of the kids came in big groups and got dropped off by their parents or the big groups all came with one set of parents.

It was even eerier when we walked in and the concourse was as empty as it was dead outside. I think we saw like 3 or 4 people at the gigantic merchandise station outside our section. This seemed really odd to me because the last two concerts I attended at the Toyota Center, The Police and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, were crazy packed and you could barely walk through the concourse. You could forget about trying to get up to the merchandise table at those two shows, unless you were willing to miss the concert.

When we finally got to our seats The Hives were still on and sounded pretty good. What amazed me was that the entire upper deck was closed and had black sheets covering it. The Blot had bought his tickets presale and figured the show would be pretty close to selling out. Turns out only scalpers were buying tickets and either Maroon 5’s luster has faded away or the ticket prices scared most people off. The entire stadium was pretty empty when we got there and then right before Maroon 5 came on the floor seats filled up, but there were still sections of the lower level pretty empty. I for one was pretty shocked that Maroon 5, the media darlings that they are, were already pass their prime. Their latest album, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, has already sold over a million copies and their first album, Songs About Jane, had been selling really well for years. Either the band has just toured too much recently, this being their 3rd stop in Houston in the past 2 ½ years, or fans are just not that into their new album. You’d think the masses were loving them considering how much airplay the new cd has been getting on the radio. I guess that goes to show how far the power of radio has fallen in this age of iTunes.

It Wont Be Soon Before LongAs for the concert itself, I thought Maroon 5 was excellent. Al and I had both seen the band play before at the Houston rodeo, but those shows are usually an hour or less and not the most inspired of concerts. I wanted to give the band another shot because I have really enjoyed both their albums. They ended up playing a really long set when you consider they only have two albums worth of material. And, I might add, lead singer Adam Levine put on a surprisingly good performance. Al and I were both impressed.

I don’t know if this is a fair comparison or not but I’ve always seen them as a new version of a band I am a huge fan of, Matchbox Twenty. Not that their music is similar, but just the path of their careers. Both bands had huge selling first albums and then toured behind those albums for 3+ years without any new material. Then when the second album came out it sold well but never matched the first album’s popularity. Both bands have stayed huge media darlings, but only time will tell if Maroon 5’s popularity will slide any farther. The bigger question is whether that slide in popularity will move Levine to start a solo career like Matchbox Twenty’s lead singer Rob Thomas, and whether his solo career can produce the kind of hits and sales that Thomas’ has.

Maroon 5Regardless, the show was great and I would definitely recommend checking out Maroon 5 if they have not yet made it to your town. My only suggestion would be to not buy the tickets from Ticketmaster and save some $$$. If the Houston show is any indication of future shows’ attendance, you might be better off in the secondary market once scalpers realize they won’t be able to make their money back on the tickets and will be trying to their tickets away. After starting this post last night, I was surprised to find Bob Lefsetz, the author of The Lefsetz Letter (, also writing on the lackluster turnout for Maroon 5’s current tour and what that says for the music industry. You can read the article here. Lefsetz does amazing analysis on music and the industry as a whole. After writing it for more than 20 years, it is very well known and read by almost everyone in the industry. I strongly urge anyone really interested in music and the music industry to sign up for his e-mail newsletter.
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