Apathy over anarchy

Just over two weeks ago MCD announced that the Script, with support coming from Pharell Williams, would be performing in Croke Park. Given that stadium acts such as AC/DC, U2 and the Foo Fighters are all touring next year this came as a little bit of a surprise. An even bigger surprise however was in store about a week later when the concert sold out in a single day.

Let that sink in for a second. The Script, one of the most blandest bands that have become inexplicably popular over the last eight years or so, have managed to sell out one of the biggest venues in Ireland, in a single day, nonetheless. This tells us a lot about where Ireland is socially and culturally at the moment.

“Stadium Rock”, is a term that is often used to describe acts that are generally quite bloated and boring, acts that cater to the lowest common denominator, middle of the road bands that are interchangeable, who haven’t got any real message. This term always seemed to be a little bit unfair. U2, Bruce Springsteen, Arcade Fire, Eminem, Queen and Neil Young are some of the stadium selling acts that have a distinct sound and a strong message to send to their audience. Even some of the stadium bands that border on generic, like AC/DC and the Foo Fighters, believe wholeheartedly in what they’re doing.

Not only is the Script’s music incredibly bland and boring, it sounds as if it is designed to sell rather then be enjoyed. It refuses to take any direction and the end result is that the band sounds so boring and inoffensive that they make Coldplay sound like Slayer. If this wasn’t enough, Danny O’Donoghue was a judge on ‘The Voice’, a show that frowns on originality and aims to find singers whose voices lack the flaws and idiosyncrasies that make the best singers what they are. One Direction (or any boy band) selling out Croke Park isn’t that noteworthy because of their appeal to children. A band like the Script will always sell records, by design alone, but selling out one of the biggest venues in Ireland is quite astonishing.

Honestly one could forgive the mediocrity of the Script if they had something to say. The awful thing is that they don’t. Their music doesn’t force the listener to actually think or question the world around them. We might joke or begrudge U2 or Springsteen for preaching to us during their sell out gigs about workers rights or the environment, but the fact is that this is important. These acts have a chance to say something meaningful to a huge audience.

The Script can be expected to make no such statements. Everything will be rehearsed and slickly executed. They will play the same set that they played the previous night; they’ll make the same jokes they made last night. They won’t inspire or enlighten anyone; it will just be a way of passing time. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but it just doesn’t make sense that it’s so big. Things are pretty tough right now, with an austerity economy and a severe lack of jobs. It makes sense that people might just want to be entertained, that they just want to escape from their problems, but surely entertainment should also inspire, and make us question the world around us.  

Perhaps the Script’s ability to sell out Croke Park is a testament to how apathetic we’ve become as a generation.  Pharell Williams, the Script’s support act, is best known for his song ‘Happy’, which featured in Despicable Me 2, a children’s film that’s surprisingly popular among twenty something’s. It is hard to think of a more appropriate support act. 

Profit driven light entertainment that distracts us from our real life problems is fine, but it shouldn’t be the biggest concert draw in the country.  Surely we can do better than that. 

Photo: Harrywad/ Wikimedia Commons