Singers Adam Levine, left, and Christina Aguilera attend a red carpet event… (John Shearer / Invision…)
Can you believe Adam Levine’s nerve?
On Monday’s episode of “The Voice,” the Maroon 5 vocalist vented about an experience he had at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip eons ago. My colleague Todd Martens detailed the incident on The Times’ music blog Pop & Hiss:
The jab came while Levine and his coaching peers were giving comments to contestant Cassadee Pope, the former lead singer of Florida rock band Hey Monday. Pope had just completed a rendition of Michelle Branch's "Are You Happy Now?" and the song appeared to trigger an unhappy memory for Levine.
"We used to open for Michelle Branch," Levine told Pope. "I remember we opened for her at the Roxy, and they didn't even give us a dressing home. I hate the Roxy. I'll never play there again."
Pope, whose Warped Tour vets Hey Monday have done some time at the Roxy, tried to protest. "I love the Roxy," she said.
Levine didn't let up. "Oh, the Roxy is horrible," he corrected. "Don't ever go there. "
Were it the case that Maroon 5 didn’t get paid by the venue, I would sympathize with his gripe. But the band didn’t get a dressing room. Boo-hoo.
I understand that touring is hard, exhausting work and that a few minutes of quiet backstage is hard to come by and much appreciated. Part of agreeing to an opening slot, though, is accepting that the headliners’ priorities come first. And as Levine, who’s been around the block, should certainly know by now, the venue has nothing to do with who gets the dressing rooms. It’s the headliner's call.
“If Michelle Branch is playing, it's Michelle Branch's show. And if her management says, 'I want Michelle in this dressing room and I want her band in this other dressing room,' we're at the mercy of the headliner,” said Roxy owner Nic Adler in an interview with Yahoo Music. “For a band to think dressing rooms define how we treat bands is crazy."
If Levine wants to pick a fight with anyone -- and I’m not saying he should -- it would make more sense for him to direct his tantrum at Branch and her management. A headliner in her position may have offered the burgeoning Maroon 5 one of the dressing rooms and shared the other room with her band.
It’s also a little rich that Levine, who’s a mentor on a competition show aimed at uncovering musical talent, would bash a venue that’s in the business of doing the same exact thing. Before CeeLo Green was recording Christmas songs and starring alongside Levine on “The Voice,” he was one-half of Gnarls Barkley and performing at the Roxy. Adler reminded me of that in a phone call Wednesday, in which he also pointed out that Levine’s previous band, Kara’s Flowers, played the venue so often they “were basically a house band.”
So many bands in the industry have come through the Roxy, Adler told me. He not only likes to see those bands succeed -- “I love to see that band show up in the broken van and have nothing, and come back a year later in a tour bus” -- but he also cares that they’re treated properly no matter what phase of their career they’re in.
Before taking over the Roxy from his dad in 1998, Adler was a band manager. “I knew what it was like to not get [...] towels or food,” he said, explaining his motivation for treating bands with respect. So it was especially a slap in the face to hear someone like Levine, who cut his teeth on the Roxy’s stage, tarnish the venue’s reputation on prime time for something so out of step with Adler’s mission.
“Sometimes you forget where you come from,” Adler sighed.
Though the Roxy has a big presence on L.A.’s Sunset Strip, it’s still a small business, and a rant like Levine’s could do real damage. Levine should apologize on Monday’s episode of "The Voice."
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