Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hello, New Jersey!!!

So, I worked the Beck show at the Landmark Loew’s Jersey City on Saturday night. I didn’t get to see any of the show (which is fine, I’m ambivalent about Beck), but I could hear it from the cavernous lobby where we had set up our makeshift bar (no, not an open bar, as one particularly stupid girl asked). And I got to hear something that I hear a lot working the bar at a rock club in the great state of New Jersey…

Beck came out to do his first encore to the strains of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Oh, Beck! I can truly see why people call you a genius!! You’re playing in New Jersey! How brilliantly hilarious to bust out some Bon Jovi! Ha ha ha! Nobody’s ever thought of that before!!!!

Actually, it’s as lame and as old as yelling “Free Bird!” I have heard dozens, if not hundreds of bands either perform a live chorus or take the stage to a recording of (a) Bon Jovi or (b) Bruce Springsteen (actually, there’s just as much Frank Sinatra, but I think that’s exclusively a Hoboken occurrence while Bon and the Boss “tributes” are statewide).

Does this happen in other states? Do touring bands playing in Tennessee feel obligated to sing a little “Jailhouse Rock?” Does every other troubadour strumming in California trill some Beach Boys? Is an ironic cover of the CHEERS theme de rigeur for combos passing through Massachusetts? I doubt it.

But Jersey has such a strong iconography that it’s almost impossible for visitors to just let it pass. And that’s fine. Those of us who reside in the perhaps ironically tagged “Garden State” are not only immune to the jabs, we embrace them. New Jersey is one of the only states that engenders a sense of identity that’s bigger than civic. As far as I’ve seen, only two states’ outlines have become common tattoos: New Jersey and Texas.

But while Texans display a sense of arrogance about their giant (if backwater) state that is practically begging for recession from the union (please), Jerseyites wear the badge almost defensively. Yeah, I’m from Jersey, what about it, douchebag? But don’t think it’s irony; most of us love this stinky state, corruption, bureaucracy, pollution, dirty beaches, closeted ex-governors, bad musical icons, mobsters and all. Mock all you want. We… don’t… care.

But bands, how about doing a Smithereens cover next time through?