Why does “Saturday Night Live” have so many older rock bands in store?


Jacques Blanc. Shots. Foo Fighters – this lineup of “Saturday Night Live” musical guests could easily be from 2002 instead of 2020… and in fact, all three of these artists performed on the show that year or in 2003 (with White as frontman of White stripes). For a show that in recent years has relied heavily on very current pop, hip-hop, R&B and alternative, it’s a dizzying genre and generational shift. What is happening?

Obviously, due to COVID, this is an unprecedented season and an unprecedented time. But not only has rock music been at its lowest for most of this century – the White Stripes and The Strokes are the last truly galvanizing bands in memory – these three bands don’t even have new music (although the last one released in April, and the Foo Fighters are up to something, judging by a cryptic Tweet they posted shortly after the first publication of this article).

Representatives of “SNL” did not respond to Varietyrequests for comment from, and several media sources declined to speak officially. But several have offered unofficial speculation.

The new wave of “SNL” rock began on October 10, with the second near-normal show since the lockdown began in March (when The Weeknd inadvertently ended up being this season’s final musical guest). Rising country singer Morgan Wallen was originally booked as a musical guest for this episode. But when images emerged on social media of Wallen involved in an extremely non-socially distanced party just days before it happened, the decision to cancel it was announced on the Thursday before the show. (To his credit, Wallen issued an apology.)


A source familiar with the situation speculates that White’s manager Ian Montone, who has developed a friendly relationship with “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels during his artist’s previous three appearances on the series, sent a quick text. to guarantee the place (Montone politely refused Varietyrequest for comment from).

But the magic element was simpler: rather than reuniting the elaborate group who had accompanied him on the show in 2018, White was accompanied only by powerful drummer Daru Jones and bassist Dominic John Davis. Reduced to the essentials, the trio absolutely burned the stage, roaring through a mix of “Ball and Biscuit” from the White Stripes and White Beyonce’s collaboration “Don’t Hurt Yourself” (with some revised lyrics and actualité), as well as the title track of his second solo album, “Lazaretto”. The latter track also featured a tribute to Eddie Van Halen, who died earlier in the week, in the form of a guitar he gave to White.

The spontaneity of the performance paid off in spades, and the response was explosive. Gen X, who had been locked up at home for months – and perhaps hadn’t seen such a strong rock band in years – gave an enthusiastic response on social media (rightly so, heavily on Facebook ) and partied at the house like it was 2002. A longtime “SNL” employee said it was the most electrifying musical performance they had seen in years.

“‘SNL’ can light up a dime,” source said Variety, “and of course they’re right now. I guess Lorne saw Jack White get a better response than anything they’d seen in years, and decided to go with it.


While Justin Bieber had already been announced for the following week’s show, and a hard rock band wouldn’t have made sense with Adele as the October 24 host (the Adele-endorsed R&B singer, HER, who also happens to be a played killer), one imagines Michaels leafing through past shows for similar rock acts appropriate for the Halloween show. There aren’t many – Billie Eilish, Coldplay and David Byrne are the closest to season 45; Gary Clarke Jr., Greta Van Fleet and Tame Impala from the previous season – and sources say the Strokes may have been scheduled to play the show in April when their album was released before COVID derailed the season. (Their performance last weekend was solid, if not overwhelming.)

But the Foo Fighters are always up to the task and always bring the rock, and like Grohl, their longtime manager, John Silva, returns with “SNL” to the Nirvana era nearly 30 years ago. And since there’s no new album to promote, it’s entirely possible that they’ll play one of their tried-and-true hits and possibly invite a special guest, do a clever cover (they squashed “Pop Life” and Prince’s “Darling Nikki” at a Grammy tribute earlier this year), or play a new song.


Yet none of the above deals entirely with the “why”. Obviously, the lockdown has meant no one is on tour, complicating things for many acts – but it has also meant artists are recording and releasing more studio material than before, too. Couldn’t “SNL” have so easily called out, say, Ariana Grande or Sam Smith, who both released new albums last week, instead of Dave Grohl?

“First of all, she doesn’t naturally match Dave Chappelle as a host,” a source said. Variety, adding: “Dave Grohl isn’t really either, but they’re both Daves and they’re both in-your-face, so it works.

“But also,” the source continues, “Jack White, the Strokes and the Foo Fighters are coming in, plugging in and playing – maybe an hour or two of prep. For Ariana or even a Sam Smith, there’s going to be hair and makeup and maybe a big concept to execute – it’s hours of preparation and a lot more people involved, and those big productions are a lot harder to pull off in a pandemic. ”

But above all, both sources agree, the show’s bookers may well react to the roar of the virtual crowd.

“Is this kind of rock music a form of comfort to a lot of people at a terrifying time in history? One of them says. “May be.”

Source link