The Zac Brown Band brought their unique down-home country fried rock to the crowd of Brits lined up for last weekend’s Hard Rock Calling music festival in London. With three Grammys and nine Billboard Country Chart number ones under their belt, it’s safe to say that guys have been around the block a few times. But this trip to the United Kingdom gave them an experience that they haven’t had in quite some time: They’re back to being the new guys!
If you heard a muffled boom tonight around 9 PM, that was just the sound of our minds being blown while watching the U.S. television premiere of the 2012 Hard Rock Calling music festival. The 2-hour special was simulcast on both Palladia and VH1, and it brought out all of the hard hitters like Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Soundgarden, Lady Antebellum and more! Never has the phrase “all killer no filler” been more appropriate, and from the moment Bruce kicked things off with an slow-burning hymnal version of “Thunder Road” we knew we were in for something special.
Now full disclosure, we were actually there on the front lines to see HRC live in London last month, but seeing it in full HD on Palladia was a totally different animal all together. When we watched former VH1 You Oughta Know artist Christina Perri perform “Jar of Hearts” and “Arms” in front of 60 thousand people, it felt just as close and intimate as when we first saw her perform in our office! It’s the magic of technology, folks.
Lady Antebellum and the Punch Brothers turned the iconic London park into a down home Nashville ho-down, while John Fogerty burnt the place down with his serious guitar shredding that left dudes half his age in the dust. Tom Morello stepped out from Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave to deliver some protest folk music aimed right at the heart of cooperate America with the Woody Guthrie song “Ease My Revolutionary Mind.” Soundgarden and Iggy & The Stooges went with the more punk tactic of assaulting the audience with bone-crushing volume.
It’s T-minus two days until the U.S. premiere of Hard Rock Calling 2012 blasts off on Palladia and VH1! Sure that’s pretty soon, but we can’t wait to share the a few of the highlights from the multi-day music festival that rocked so hard that the cops showed up! So direct from us to you, here are some performance sneak peeks to show you what all the fuss is about, and get you even more pumped to see the full two hour feature this Saturday at 9 PM.
First off, we’ve got Iggy Pop, making you forget his age (and that insurance commercial) by tearing into his iconic track, “I Want To Be Your Dog.” The performance was so good, fellow rock legends Jimmy Page and Robert Plant came out to watch! If it’s good enough for those guys, it’s good enough for us. Backed by his old band the Stooges, the inventor of the stage dive does not disappoint.
Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave veteran Tom Morello took to the stage as his alter-ego the Nightwatchman, serving up some searing protest music that touched on everything from the financial crisis to striking firemen. This guy has a lot to say. His set at HRC happened to coincide with what would have been Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday, so Tom payed his respects by doing a spine-tingling cover of the late singer’s “Ease My Revolutionary Mind.” With his shout outs to the Occupy movement and other current events, Tom made the song more relevant than ever.
Couldn’t make the trek to London for Hard Rock Calling this year? Palladia’s got you covered, because the network is bringing you the best bits of the epic three day festival! You’ll get to see Bruce Springsteen’s historic duet with Paul McCartney (at least until the cops shut em down!), Paul Simon perform tracks from Graceland backed with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and that’s not even close to all. Incredible performances from Soundgarden, Lady Antebellum, Christina Perri, Iggy & The Stooges and many more are set to make their U.S. TV debut this Saturday the 25th at 9 PM on Palladia, and also simulcast on VH1.
How can they fit that much rock into two hours!? You better spend this week prepping your ears for some serious kickass tunes. Viacom’s music channel Palladia will bring the goods in high def, so it’ll really feel like you’re there. Minus the drunk guy in front of you chanting for “Freebird,” of course. And the special will also air Sunday August 26th at 9PM on VH1 Classic, so you have no excuse to miss out. We were there, and we can tell you: if you love music, you’ll love this. Get pumped!
England may be serious about rules, but not so serious that they can’t laugh at themselves. A new promo for the Olympics — which he is rumored to close with a “Hey Jude” singalong — finds good Sir Paul McCartney mocking the strict curfew keepers who pulled the plug on his headlining set with Bruce Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling in London earlier this month. “We’re all getting excited, we’re ready to rock,” says the former Beatle before diving into a rocking rehearsal. But just halfway through “I Saw Her Standing There,” the sound cuts out and McCartney is left wondering, once again, “Who pulled the plug…?” We like to believe that, if this sort of power-out happens during the real thing, closing ceremonies attendees will be well enough versed in Beatles classics to all together now help take that sad song and make it better. But for the sake of all rock-and-roll moments sacred, let’s hope this is the last time McCartney has to ask that question.
The party’s over, the circus has left town, the finale of the 2012 Hard Rock Calling music festival is over and done, and we’re getting so misty-eyed that we can barely see the keyboard. Luckily the powers that be gave us one hell of a parting gift: Paul Simon performing all of Graceland with the original Ladysmith Black Mambazo backing group! It’s hard to feel too bad with music like that swirling in our ears. Rest assured folks, he’s still crazy after all these years.
But we’re getting way too ahead of ourselves. Today was something of a gentler day for the HRC lineup. If yesterday was a competition to see who could rock out the hardest (and loudest), today was more of an exploration of the many different possibilities within music, from country to gospel to african rhythm to reggae and beyond. It was truly a grab-bag in the finest sense: every set was an unexpected winner, full of songs you never knew you loved. There was something of a late sixties NorCal festival vibe in their air when we arrived. The English summer sun was shining, and we saw young women brandishing tambourines wandering the muddy grounds in lacy shirts with daisy chains in their hair (really). Plus we saw some seriously outstanding mustaches, which were definitely worth the price of admission.
We got there just in time to hear Robert Randolph ripping it up on a pedal steel guitar with his Family Band. Part blues, part funk and all awesome, their break-neck jams gave us as badly needed wakeup jolt. “We only got two hours sleep last night!” Robert yelled from the stage in between numbers. So did we Bob, and right now we barely have enough energy to lift a can of Red Bull to our lips! How does he do it?!
Say it with us now: BRUUUUUUUUUUCEEEEE!! It’s Day Two of the 2012 Hard Rock Calling music festival, and though we had a fantastic roaster of rock ‘n’ rollers on the bill today, there’s one name that shines over the rest. No offense Lady Antebellum, John Fogerty, Tom Morello, Dawes, Gary Clark Jr and the rest of the twenty-three acts who got loud in London – but there was something special in the air tonight. And it smelled like the swamps of Jersey. Bruce Springsteen turned rock performance into an Olympic event, offering up one of his frenzied three hour music marathons. We laughed, we cried, we rocked.
Arriving to Hyde Park in the afternoon, we got the impression that the already-massive festival site had somehow grown even bigger! At first we thought it was just in our heads, but apparently it was true. Organizers have reportedly sold 80 thousands tickets, so many that the gates had to be moved farther back to accommodate the influx of international fans wanting to be honorary Garden State-ers for the night.
We got there just in time to see The Nightwatchman, better known as Tom Morello, take to the stage. Never one to hold back, the former Rage Against The Machine guitarist is still raging, offering a passionately political set in which he touched on everything from the worldwide financial crisis to a British fireman’s strike. In honor of what would have been musical protest pioneer Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday, Morello did a fiery rendition of the late singer’s “Ease My Revolutionary Mind,” fitting in shoutouts to Springsteen, Fogerty and other acts on the bill. “If he were alive today, he would be on the front lines of Occupy movement,” Morello said of Guthrie, who passed away in 1967.
Soundgarden headlined the first day of London’s Hard Rock Calling festival yesterday, and VH1 caught up with frontman Chris Cornell and lead guitarist Kim Thayil minutes before they hit the stage. And they knew this wasn’t just any ordinary gig. “It’s in Hyde Park and it’s with the Stooges,” Chris told us. “So those are the two ingredients that make it special for me.” Kim agrees, admitting to being in awe of Iggy Pop and Co. “They’re a huge influence on us, and they weren’t together during most of our career.”
Speaking of not being together, Soundgarden themselves reunited in January 2010 after 14 long years apart. They’re currently in the midst of recording their first new album since 1996’s “Down On The Upside,” due fore release later this year. Despite this apparently harmony, we couldn’t help asking them if any of the old tension ever reared its ugly head while on the road? Oh yeah, we went there! “It’s been good, it’s been cool, it’s been relaxed,” Chris told us. “For our first international touring, we were in our twenties and we scoured the Earth in a van, which we drove. We moved our own gear and played every little hamlet in every country we were in. Now it’s much more relaxed. We don’t drive. It’s great, it’s fun.”
While we were on the topic reunions and jamming with old friends, we asked Chris if he’d ever reform Temple of the Dog, his early 90s side project with the Pearl Jam crew and Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron. “I don’t know, you never know,” he laughed. “The only times that’s ever happens seems to be once every ten years at a Pearl Jam show. Especially with Matt now being in Pearl Jam.” The drummer joined Pearl Jam following the breakup of Soundgarden back in 1997, and since the reunion Cameron’s pulling double duty with both bands. “If I walk onstage and sing with Pearl Jam, it’s Temple of the Dog. So that’s happened. And it’s always really fun.” Who knows, maybe someday we’ll get another album from them too? Grunge fans can dream…
What Olympics? The Hard Rock Calling music festival is on every Londoner’s lips this weekend, as organizers turned the legendary Hyde Park into a not-so-small city within a city. One shop keeper warned us that it was going to “piss down with rain,” but that didn’t stop thousands of music lovers who turned up in their wellies yesterday for a chance to hear Soundgarden, Iggy and the Stoogesand more! No fair weather fans here, folks.
While the festival is (and should be) all about the music, the first thing that hits you as your enter that site is the sheer size. This site is a sight, man. A whopping four stages lay within the rock compound, and depending on where you stand at any given moment, the experience can be like listening to a radio jammed between two frequencies. Wall-to-wall food stands offer any kind of fare you could possibly imagine, but the backstage realm is pure fantasy. Located literally right behind the main pavilion, this miniature resort boasts a full sized pool, a vintage double decker bus with an open air cafe on top, a spa, a DJ booth, a full bar and a separate bar specializing in Red Bull concoctions, a bakery, a photo booth, a smaller stage for intimate performances, and a candy cart. Rock and roll!
Before things got moving at full speed, we caught a band called Cold Chisel on the main stage. We weren’t familiar ourselves, but if you imagine a musical love child of The Who and Guns & Roses raised in the outback of Australia, you’ll have a decent approximation of these burly blokes. Despite knowing very little (ok, none) of their songs, they were actually incredibly fun and delivered some pretty sweet pub rock from lead singer Jimmy Barnes. Any band who greets the crowd with a “How the f–k are ya!? This is a song about pies and chicks!” gets our seal of approval!
Hard Rock called and we answered! The 7th annual Hard Rock Calling music festival is almost upon us, and VH1’s got your front row ticket and backstage pass. The big event will take place this Friday through Sunday in London’s Hyde Park, and we’ll be there rockin’ out with some of the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll history! Hard Rock always treats us music fans right, but this year they’ve really spoiled us with some once-in-a-lifetime performances.
Grunge gods Soundgarden will be there playing cuts from their upcoming album, a first in 16 years!Paul Simon is going to celebrate the 25h anniversary of his landmark Graceland album by performing it start to finish, backed by the incredible Ladysmith Black Mambazo group who gave the original recording its timeless sound. Bruce Springsteen will no doubt turn rock ‘n’ roll into an athletic event during his marathon set with the E Street Band, and punk prince Iggy Pop will tear up the stage (and hopefully not himself). Lady Antebellum, Alison Krauss, John Fogerty and Robert Randolph…they’ll all be there to move it and groove it across the pond.
And get this, guys: That’s just the main stage. We’ve got three others to choose from, so get ready for more music than your ears can handle. We’re pleased to report some success stories, as one-time VH1 You Oughta Know artists Dawes and Christina Perri both take the stage. We’ll be sure to catch up with them and see how they like performing along side their idols. There will be tons of surprises along the way, so keep checking back for updates to see what went down in London Town! And also be sure to follow us on twitter (VH1Music) and instagram for up to the minute updates. See ya there!