My Dream Tonic Ball (and Other Ideas)

5 min read

Is anyone interested in covering Fall Out Boy at Tonic Ball?

I ask because I was watching a Fall Out Boy concert on TV the other day, and I realized they’d been playing arenas for going on couple of decades and I’d never listened to them. And after listening for a couple of minutes…let’s just say that Fall Out Boy does nothing for my jaded rock ears.

Meanwhile, Tonic Ball has been covering great artists for nearly as long as Fall Out Boy has been around. Tomorrow (November 18) is our fifteenth year celebrating the songs we love to raise money for the good work of Second Helpings.

Because this is a milestone anniversary, we’re revisiting some of our favorites. But most years, choosing the acts we’re going to cover starts with a sort of battle royale in which friendships are strained, tastes are questioned, etc.

Who will we cover next? Here are some ideas.

The Top Ten Acts Tonic Ball Will Almost Certainly Cover at Some Point:

The Beach Boys
The Cars
Johnny Cash
Aretha Franklin
John Mellencamp
Pearl Jam
The Police
The Ramones
Van Halen
The Who

Another Ten:

70z95diCreedence Clearwater Revival
The Cure
Green Day
Guns n’ Roses
The Replacements
Smashing Pumpkins
The Smiths
Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Ones We’ll Probably Cover But You Won’t Find Me in the Room:

eagles-thenKISS—Hated them.
ABBA—So many people want to do this. I don’t understand it.
Neil Diamond—Ugh.
Journey—Just no.
Bob Seger—“Turn the Page” was a good song, I guess.
The Eagles—Don’t get me started.

The Five-Stage Tonic Ball I’d Love to See, But Know It Will Never Happen:

mgid-uma-artist-mtvAmerican Music Club
Galaxie 500
The Pernice Brothers
Red House Painters

A Five-Stage Tonic Ball I’d Love That Might Actually Happen:

rs-181190-122714727Ryan Adams
The Allman Brothers
The Pretenders
The White Stripes

Why Not?

cracker1Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker
The Jayhawks
Elton John
Kris Kristofferson
Carole King
Linda Ronstadt
Thin Lizzy
Yo La Tengo
Frank Zappa

My Dream Tonic Ball:

Jimi Hendrix
Venue: Radio Radio
Why have we not done a Hendrix show? Surely, there are enough guitar heroes in this town, and the catalog is incredibly strong. It’s certainly defensible to assert that Hendrix, by blending R&B with psychedelia, invented heavy metal. Obviously known for his revolutionary guitar style, he was also an amazing producer and a monstrously talented songwriter. I would love to hear Everything, Now do “1983 (A Merman I Shall Turn To Be),” and John Strahl and Doug Henthorn can play three of whatever they want. This room might combust spontaneously, and we would all be fortunate to go up in the flames. Song I want to cover: “Crosstown Traffic.”


The Magnetic Fields
Venue: Fountain Square Theatre
I dream of doing a cabaret-style show of 69 Love Songs with a band and three or four vocalists trading numbers—maybe do about 20 songs, or just run the whole damn suite of songs, three shows in three nights. (If anyone among you feels the same, and has the financial wherewithal to back this show, call me. You will not regret it.) Instead, I’d be tickled to cover Stephin Merritt songs at Tonic Ball. I’m not sure exactly why you need the big stage for this; it’s kind of a small band. I just like the staginess of that room, and I’m thinking maybe we could put a bunch of comfortable furniture onstage and keep the lights low and put out a few more tables. Song I want to cover: “Papa Was A Rodeo.”


Venue: The White Rabbit Cabaret
Well, you knew this was coming, didn’t you? Come on. These guys have a back catalog that doesn’t quit, and it runs from twitchy post-punk through angular pop to beautiful Beatlesque psych-pop (especially if you allow their work as The Dukes of Stratosphear, which, of course, we will allow). Andy Partridge and company haven’t performed for decades, so putting an XTC set onstage would be a sort of public service. It’s punky and groovy enough for the White Rabbit. Note to My Beautiful Wife: I guarantee you’ll like these songs better with someone other than Andy singing them. Song I want to cover: “No Thugs In Our House.”


Venue: The Hi-Fi
Remember when Oasis vs. Blur was a thing? No? Maybe that’s because it was so stupid; music is not sports, and thank god for that. But if you were going to make a choice at the time and you put your money on Oasis, the joke was on you. Oasis had a handful of dumb, fun/pretty songs, while Blur were a survey of British pop past present and future. I’d be happy to listen to a parade of great local bands cover Parklife­—and, yes, we would allow Gorillaz covers, and it would be a great good thing to bring Tonic Ball more hip-hop influence, and a set of Blur songs would make the whole Murphy Building bop up and down. Song I want to cover: “To The End.”


Venue: Pioneer
You can call it Dad Rock if you need to, but be nice. I can’t say I’ve loved most of what the band has done in recent years. But Being There and Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot still hold up pretty spectacularly. Let’s do this at Pioneer, where we can spread out a little and the loud songs will play as beautifully as the quiet ones. And My Beautiful wife can sit/stand/dance in the front row, and everything will be right with the world. Song I want to cover: “Pot Kettle Black.”


What are we missing? Do you really want to cover Fall Out Boy? Bright Eyes? Jane’s Addiction? STP? Seriously?

Join our committee. Come help us. Just…no Dave Matthews, please.