It was a rough weekend to be a concert critic, a thankless job that doesn't come with a congenial pat-on-the-back — even when you like something.
In my case, this past weekend will go down in history as the occasion when I actually enjoyed a Justin Bieber concert. Even now, a week after his Amway Center show, I shudder with embarrassment at that reality, but ultimately sleep the peaceful slumber of a man with a clear conscience.
Hey, I call it like I see it. And such honesty certainly is rewarded by the admiration of enlightened readers.
Wait a minute. What?
"My sons have lost all respect for you," one of my Facebook friends commented on the posting of my review. And this is from one of my "friends."
Comments on the Soundboard blog also were occasionally harsh:
"Puke," wrote Sam, a master of economical wordplay.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," added Everett, taking issue with my focus on the show's impressive special effects. "My wallet and my ears suffered remarkably. …Bieber would do well to cut in half that Barnum & Bailey spectacle and concentrate more on his MUSIC, vocals and instrument playing."
Because I was less enamored of country star Luke Bryan's country-rock on Saturday at the Amway, I was prepared for major blowback for that review, along the lines of this message on my office voicemail:
"Your article is horrible," said one fan — of Bryan, not of mine.
On the blog, however, opinions were surprisingly mixed:
"Luke rocked the arena like it has never been rocked before," wrote Jen, in an evenhanded appraisal. "He is the future king of country music. Thanks for a great show, Luke!!!"
"Worst concert ever. Just noise, didn't even hear a clear word," added Robert Atkinson, echoing one of my problems with the show.
Maybe Robert has a future as a concert critic. After all, there's plenty of love to go around.
Rug wants your vote
Orlando band Rug is hoping that its fans will help move the ensemble into the next phase of Hard Rock Rising, an international battle of the bands sponsored by Hard Rock International.
If the band scores enough votes, it advances to a live showcase at Orlando's Hard Rock Live, the potential springboard to a slot in the global competition. The final winner scores a world tour at Hard Rock Cafe venues, free production of a music video and album on Hard Rock Records and $10,000 in gear.
To vote, visit facebook.com/hardrockorlando and click on the Hard Rock Rising 2013 tab. There, you can find another link to vote for the band on a list of competitors that also includes Orlando's Bloody Jug Band (so you might want to show them some love, too).
Rug's latest studio album, "02," harnesses the group's instrumental precision in service of songs that are more compact and catchy. Frontman Jon Messeroff, bassist Hogan Birney, guitarist Andrew Brooks and drummer C.L. Freeman spent almost two years writing and arranging the album's 10 songs, which occasionally venture into a bluesy realm that the band hadn't explored before.
Voting continues through Feb. 11.
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