Thursday’s inauguration weekend welcome concert was tonight, and it did its job, in that it accurately set the tone for the new administration and the new America. It was horrible. It was a disaster. And it was sad.
It didn’t run properly, didn’t reflect your tastes or interests, and you wouldn’t want to purchase a ticket to it—let alone desire to be present to witness the disaster.
“Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration Concert” was the much-ballyhooed event that struggled to book major acts to perform. Toby Keith, Lee Greenwood, the Piano Guys, and 3 Doors Down headlined. By comparison, President Obama’s We Are One concert featured Mary J. Blige, James Taylor, Josh Groban, Sheryl Crow, will.i.am, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Shakira, U2, and Bruce Springsteen.
Trump, on the other hand, a man who boasted his entire campaign about his ability to close deals, failed to book a Springsteen cover band for his festivities.
From beginning to end, the somber cloud hovering over the incoming administration, this impossible to book concert, and, really, America, stifled the music. Hardly the pomp and circumstance you’d expect from such an occasion. Certainly, it was hardly the spectacle that a man who fancies himself the Greatest Showman on Earth would be proud to produce.
But the show must go on. And it did.
From The Daily Beast:
Without further ado, “Please welcome the rhythmic beats of Ravidrums.” Mr. Ravidrums, mohawked and working it, then played a new-age Dick Van Dyke-in-Mary-Poppins-style drum set to the electro-bastardized tune of “God Bless America” while the names of all 50 states flashed on screens in the background.
Jon Voight’s up next, starting the night off by berating us for being mean to Trump who’s “only desire was to make America great again.” How fitting, to kick things off with asinine whining and a cry for attention—this time, spoken through a formerly A-list surrogate.
Sam Moore followed to sing “America, the Beautiful.” Google tells me that Sam Moore is one half of Sam & Dave, the R&B duo behind the song “Soul Man.” He sounded really great, as you would expect when you find out that he’s the iconic voice behind “Soul Man.” Behind him was a gospel choir, each with the countenance of a hostage attempting to blink “Help” in Morse code. Nonetheless, beautiful rendition!
A fife band dressed in colonial garb then came to perform a medley of songs from the 18th and 19th centuries, ostensibly to put us in the mood of the time period we’re about to revert back to.
Everyone then waited idly for Trump to arrive. For a long time. A really long time. CNN’s chryon: “Standing by for Trump to arrive at the concert.” The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” played in the meantime. That seems like an odd choice.
He arrived, Melania by his side, stopping to salute the statue of Lincoln.
The Frontmen of Country then performed a medley of hits, including “Walking On Memphis,” a song by not one of the frontmen of country on stage. A ditty entitled “God Blessed Texas” got a rousing response from the crowd, as did “God Bless the U.S.A.,” the track that paved the way for the appearance—here he is—”Lee…Greenwood?”
3 Doors Down themselves, the moment we’ve all been waiting for, then opened up their set with a song called “The Broken,” featuring lyrics like: “this is a call to the broken / to all the ones who’ve been thrown away,” and are they trolling us? I still sang along to “Kryptonite.”
Perhaps one of the more interesting performances was by The Piano Guys. In keeping with the theme of the afternoon, they are, one could say, phonies—or, rather, known for making a name for themselves off the works of others.
The Piano Guys became famous through YouTube for their instrumental covers of other pop songs. A popular one of theirs is the cover of “Fight Song,” the omnipresent earworm that haunted all of Hillary Clinton’s campaign rallies. In very Trumpian fashion, their albums are named: Hits Volume 1, The Piano Guys, and The Piano Guys 2. You cannot make this up.
Were they interesting on stage? They opened with a song that was basically just repeating over and over, “It’s going to be OK,” so many times that it not only became meaningless but instead possibly incited paranoia.
In a statement before the concert in response to the backlash any performer rumored to be involved in the event received, the group said they weren’t endorsing Trump but instead wished to spread “love, joy and hope” and hoped “understanding” and “goodwill” would prevail over political divisiveness.
Now “one of the most popular artists in history” Toby Keith followed The Piano Guys, and it looked like he was embarrassed by that ridiculous introduction. He performed his Toby Keith-y songs and he did that very Toby Keith-y thing well, saying stuff like “we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way” while cheers-ing a red solo cup in the air—which is certainly a message.