Back to the Future

We tell the Bravery's fortune, decode a rock opera and groan over Sting's intoxicated verbosity

Jan 19, 2005 at 4:00 am
Lord knows I love me some rock & roll. And I sure do love to read, too...well, mostly Mad magazine and Classics Illustrated. So what could possibly be better than taking a story and putting it to the sound of blaring guitars and screeching vocals? Thankfully, singer Geoff Tate and his band of Queensrÿchers were sitting around the Seattle suburbs in the late '80s thinking the exact same thing! And thus metal's most cerebral composer -- like Andrew Lloyd Webber with an Aqua Netted mullet -- took his cues from The Manchurian Candidate, the Charles Bronson spy thriller Telefon, all that savory Reagan-era paranoia and conspiracy, and drafted simply the greatest rock opera ever committed to tape: 1988's masterful, metalful Operation: Mindcrime.

Oh sure, you can have your Tommy and The Wall, but Mindcrime has it all: murder, sex, religion, politics, mayhem, corruption, terrorism, murderous sex, political mayhem and plenty of heroin, too! And as we marinate in all this Dubya-era paranoia and conspiracy, what better time to once again break out this work of visionary genius than right now? Thankfully, Tate and his slightly retooled band of Queensrÿchers are bringing to Pop's a full-stage production of Mindcrime, complete with actors, video footage, an orchestra, and lots of big amps and leather pants.

Opera -- with its complex storylines and foreign languages -- can be hella tough to follow. Mindcrime is no exception; when Tate hits that fourteenth octave while tearing through the complicated narrative, only dolphins really know what's going on. So clip out and stash the following handy plot synopsis, just in case you get lost during the performance:

Mindcrime centers on "Nikki" (a guy, as in "Nikki Sixx," as opposed to "Nikki Hilton"), a junkie street urchin who becomes a cold-blooded assassin of political and religious leaders after being brainwashed by the evil "Dr. X." Presented as a series of flashbacks while he sits in a mental hospital awaiting trial for the murders, Mindcrime takes us through Nikki's indoctrination into the revolutionary cult that's bent on destroying corruption; his control both by Dr. X's drugs and "Sister Mary" -- the hooker-turned-nun who he falls in love with and eventually bangs on a church altar; and the dramatic conclusion, in which he's commanded by Dr. X to kill Sister Mary because she's a "risk" (she dies, but did he do it? Ah, the mystery!).

And if the grand finale leaves you with more questions than answers, fear not: Once this tour is complete, Queensrÿche is all set to record Operation: Mindcrime 2, from which you'll get a sneak preview at the end of the show! As Christopher Walken would say, "Wowee wow wow!" --Michael Alan Goldberg

Substance of Sting

Sting's given name is Gordon Sumner, he's beginning to look a lot like Jurassic Park's Sam Neill, and his boner lasts for like four hours without the benefit of Viagra. This much we know about Sting. What we don't know about Sting is now readily available in the form of a memoir, Broken Music, penned by Sumner himself. Autobiographical and structurally wacky, the paperback features such pearly sentences as the following: "I lie in the darkness of my attic bedroom above the dairy, where I have successfully ejaculated into my hand for the first time."

Thanks for sharing.

Richer, however, is a section where Sting recounts a series of random hallucinatory maneuvers via an onslaught of six-million-dollar words. Sting later reveals that he was tripping balls on a certain foreign substance when he wrote the section. See if you can guess what Sting was on when he wrote the following:

"The spiraling geometric entities behind my closed eyelids vibrate with the rhythm of the music and begin to morph into distinct humanoid shapes, dazzling, bejeweled and specifically female. I have never in my life seen such gorgeous creatures and yet there is something intrinsically alien about them, something cruelly beautiful, almost insect-like and profoundly sexual...I am ushered into a large chamber, like the inside of a beehive at the center of which is a table with a chessboard. On the other side of the board is an exquisite female being of an even higher order of beauty and status than my attendant creatures, who bid me to sit down. They arrange themselves in an elegant circle around the table. In front of me are the white pieces. I am clearly expected to play....The black rook murders the white knight. Again the king is exposed, in mortal chamber. Flagrant obscenities are being whispered in my ear. I can hardly breathe. A snakelike, insidious tongue thrills the skin of my neck below the ear, as the black queen presents herself to the wounded king. The word check echoes around the room with cruel insolence."

What substance did Sting ingest in order to produce this incorrigible pile of crap?

A) cocaine
B) Ecstasy
C) mushroom tea
D) ayahuasca
E) semen
F) all of the above

(Correct answer: D) ayahuasca, a potent liquid hallucinogenic derived from the South American Banisteriopsis caapi vine. That's just so Sting, isn't it?) -- Mike Seely

The Future Is Now

The Bravery's debut single, "Unconditional," is going to be the next big thing. We're going on the record: The moaning vocals and needling guitars are going to capture your minds the way they've captured ours. We're confident enough about this to go ahead and plan out the band's future for it.

January The Bravery is featured in Rolling Stone and NME as a band to watch in 2005, and the annual BBC News poll of "music critics, DJs and schedulers" names the Bravery as music's Next Big Thing.

February Tower Records simply can't keep the domestic release of the EP Unconditional in stock. The single begins to receive massive radio airplay, thus alienating nine-tenths of its original audience. One-tenth of hipsters remain faithful to the band -- and even more faithful to their fantasies about lead singer Sam Endicott doing it with Strokes lead singer Julian Casablancas.

March Pissed off American fans wonder why, unlike the cover of the U.K. release, the U.S. edition of Unconditional doesn't have an artistic rendering of a hot woman pinching her own nipple. The FCC twiddles its thumbs.

April Endicott's remarks about the Smiths (he was quoted by the BBC as saying, "I know nothing about the Smiths. I only know one song, the one that has the cat noise") come to the attention of Morrissey, who tracks down Endicott at a fabulous West End nightclub and pistol-whips him.

May Endicott considers suing Morrissey but instead ushers in the "black-eye look" when the band shoots its first cover for Spin just days after the infamous West End Whipping, as it is now known. The cover coincides with the release of the Bravery's self-titled debut album, which peaks at No. 3 on the charts, just after the latest posthumous release from Tupac and the third installment of George Strait's Greatest Hits.

June Keyboardist John Conway is seen publicly in New York and LA with recent divorcée Jennifer Aniston. Conway and Aniston follow in the footsteps of other hot actresses dating not-as-hot musicians. See Fabio & Drew and Jack & Renée.

July The Bravery headlines a summer tour called El Gogada (the name is derived from Electro-Goth-Garage-Dance, a term coined by a concise and clever reviewer at Pitchfork) with the Killers, Franz Ferdinand and Scissor Sisters. Side-stage acts include Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and, in an attempt at reconciliation, the Smiths.

August Endicott signs a contract with Cover Girl to promote a line of long-lasting waterproof mascara. The company also releases a limited-edition Endicott Eyeliner, aptly called Black Eye.

September Endicott is caught outside trendy New York luncheon spot Ivy with runny eye makeup. He blames the fiasco on the early-fall heat wave, but when the photo ends up on the cover of Star, Endicott loses his Cover Girl deal. Robert Smith quickly signs on to replace him.

October The bandmates take off for a monthlong tour of Japan, where they seem tall and fat.

November Um...the Bravery? Who?

December The Bravery "returns to its roots" with a comeback album entitled Very Bra. -- Jess Minnen