by Taylar Kobylas
With a name like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, concertgoers at the inauguration of the 19th annual Arts, Beats and Eats correctly anticipated a set full of angst, rebellion and hard rock. Accompanied by a simple black banner and leather-clad band mates, Joan Jett ruled with volume, anthems, and fists held high.
Classics like “Bad Reputation” and “Cherry Bomb” reminded me of punk’s eternally cool nature. After all Jett’s experienced and accomplished, she still doesn’t give a damn about her reputation. Moreover, years as frontwoman in a punk band haven’t diminished her vocal qualities. She can strut on stage and work a crowd with lyrics rather than flash, gimmicks or auto tune.
Though the crowed manifested love for the classics, Jett and the Blackhearts’ newer cuts received less enthusiasm. Clearly, many people had come to experience the highlights. While the band was performing newer songs, some attendees chattered, others came and went, and a few managed to spill beers on the suburban couples and families that only Arts, Beats and Eats attracts. The middle of the set was too sing-songy, particularly “TMI” and “Fragile”, but their experimental approach deserved a nod.
Humor struck when, on tracks parallel to the stage, a mammoth train chugged by and interrupted the show. The noise must have struck a wrong chord with lead guitarist Dougie Needles, who flipped it the bird. Ah, the beautiful anger of punk rock.
Eventually, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts returned to classical territory and performed “Crimson & Clover”, “I Hate Myself for Loving You”, “Do You Wanna Touch Me?” and “I Love Rock and Roll”, before closing with their version of “Everyday People.”
Although the concert received side glances from “real-deal music aficionados,” one aspect should have been evident to everyone: Jett’s still got it. Punk ain’t dead, yet.