Within the umbrella tag of "Rock Music" there is currently a chestful of genres. To name but a few, we've got heavy metal, soft rock, jazz-rock, art rock, country-rock, blues rock, acid rock, punk rock, rock and roll, power pop, and New Wave. It is that last category that we are interested in here.
All "New Wave" is is a phrase to tie together a growing bunch of young bands who otherwise have little in common. The vast range of musical styles that fall under the banner mean that there is a New Wave band out there for everybody, no matter what the person's musical orientation might be. Rockabilly lovers can certainly appreciate Robert Gordon; heavy metal fans have the Sex Pistols to take to heart, and, therefore, anyone who enjoys listening to music at all, who disregards the New Wave without so much as even a tiny sampling of it is only cheating himself.
UMass students have certainly had their chances to sample New Wave music first-hand over the course of the past two semesters. The Bluewall occasionally features New Wave bands, the four-day Cars stint in early September, 1977, being a most evently example. Two major Union Program Council presentations, in particular, have served as New Wave showcases at U Mass. The Ramones are the rock and roll equivalent of Saturday morning cartoons (the way they were when we watched them, not the junk being served up nowadays). They play fast, furious, eternally catchy three-chord onslaughts of song, and their November 16, 1977, concert in the Hatch was a resounding success for nearly all involved.
Warm-up act Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band, a long-time Boston rock and roll favorite, also went over well, getting the crowd to its feet early. Willie and his boys also opened for Elvis Costello and the Attractions when they hit the Student Union Ballroom March 1, 1978, and the sporadic booing they got at the end of their set more or less matched the tone at the conclusion of the feature event.
Touted as the next Springsteen, Elvis came out of seemingly nowhere in late '77 to burn up the American charts with his debut LP, My Aim is True, and his public attention was at a peak when he arrived here. Although the sellout crowd loved what little he did play, most patrons were more than disappointed when Elvis and his band cut out after a 37-minute set, leaving the sound system strewn across the stage as they left. Well, as the show biz saying goes, "always leave them wanting more."
Let's hope that the problems the Program Council encountered in dealing with the Costello camp does not deter them from bringing to campus any further New Wave acts. They do put on great shows.