Over the weekend, things got a little testy at a Kings of Leon show in Dallas, Texas, after singer Caleb Followill walked off stage complaining of voice problems related to the heat in the Gexa Energy Pavilion. Followill told fans he was going to vomit and grab another beer, after which he would return to the stage to perform three more songs.
When Caleb didn’t come back, brother and KOL bassist Jared Followill informed the crowd that Caleb was “a little unfit” to perform and that fans should “F**king hate Caleb, not us.” After the show, Jared apologized on Twitter, saying, “Dallas, I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am. There are internal sicknesses & problems that have needed to be addressed. No words.”
A show at Houston’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion the following night was also cancelled, prompting yet another response from Jared. “I love our fans so much. I know you guys aren’t stupid,” he tweeted. “I can’t lie. There are problems in our band bigger than not drinking enough Gatorade.”
While the band certainly owed disappointed fans a reason for the truncated and cancelled shows, making a band’s private troubles public is rarely a good idea. In the past, public tensions have led a variety of bands, including Guns N’ Roses and Oasis, to the brink and ultimately stained their legacies because their legendary troubles are remembered as much as their music.
The tensions between the various members of Guns N’ Roses are well-known. Axl Rose has a reputation for being highly controlling and reportedly clashed frequently with his band mates, particularly Slash. In his 2007 biography, the guitar hero admitted Rose’s desire to own the band’s name, in addition to the singer’s compulsive lateness to shows, which Slash felt was disrespectful to fans, was the band’s undoing.
So much information about the band’s troubles has been made public since its peak in the early ‘90s that it’s difficult to remember it for anything else. Sure, they have some great songs, but when you hear GNR these days, you think of Axl Rose’s eccentricities more than anything else.
The same can be said for Oasis, which was so notoriously plagued with issues that the brothers Gallagher, Liam and Noel, are still talking about the band’s split two years after their breakup. At a recent press conference promoting his solo projects and his new band, High Flying Birds, Noel went into detail over the massive fight in 2009 at the V Festival in Paris that led to his departure from the band.
Everyone is still pretty bitter, it seems, as Liam compared his brother’s new song to Dido on Twitter and tweeted the word “S**TBAG” when Noel announced the release date for his solo album.
In related news, these guys sold 70 million records and sang “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova.” But who really cares when the behind-the-scenes noise is more interesting than any song they could ever sing?
It’s something for Kings of Leon to consider before they start down this road. We know most bands have problems and that rock star egos get in the way the bigger a band gets, but the more public the band makes their problems, the more it gets in the way of enjoying their music. Inviting the media to analyze the issue (hi guys!) adds another layer to the issues – as a result, KOL now have a bit of a PR problem on their hands too. It may have been better for everyone involved if Jared had schooled his brother Caleb in person rather than on Twitter.