Famous Bands and the Indie Musicians Who Should Open for Them


You may or may not have seen that new show called Opening Act last night, wherein a team of “industry judges” – viz. Mary J Blige, Olivia Lee, and that unpleasant English guy from Popstars and So You Think You Can Dance – judge various hapless bands for the right to support huge stars like, um, LMFAO or Jason Mrazzzzzzzzzzz. Still, the show did get us thinking about how plenty of great bands have started their careers by playing some support slots that seem hilarious in retrospect, from Radiohead opening for Alanis Morrissette to Jimi Hendrix opening for the Monkees. And that, in turn, got us thinking about support slots we’d love to see some of our favorite bands play. In view of this, we thought we’d amuse ourselves by looking at some dream hypothetical line-ups, featuring some big-name (or biggish-name, at least) headline acts, past and present, along with the indie bands we’d love to have seen open for them.

Pink Floyd

Support act: Dirty Projectors

Of course, there’s Floyd and there’s Floyd, but in this case we’re talking about early, Barrett-era Floyd, because today’s indie scene is a lot heavier on psychedelic whimsy than it is on weighty stadium concept albums about pigs and alienation. There are any number of indie types who’d nestle nicely on a dream bill with late 1960s Floyd – and would probably jump at the opportunity to do so – but since they’re fresh in everyone’s minds at the moment, we’re plumping for Dirty Projectors.

Depeche Mode

Support act: Cold Cave

Similarly, there are at least two distinct Depeche Mode eras – the slightly camp ’80s pop era, and the moody ’90s stadium era. For the latter, who better than the man who pretty much embodies angsty post-millennial electronic sounds: Wes Eisold?

Leonard Cohen

Support act: Jens Lekman

We noted a while back that we reckon Jens would do a pretty fine job of covering Leonard Cohen’s songs, but why stop there? The great man is touring again this summer, and we’d pretty much die for a ticket if it magically ended up as a Cohen/Lekman double bill. Come on, universe. We’ve been good this year.

Michael Jackson

Support act: Grimes

A couple of months back, when the internet was going really batshit over Grimes, we had an intra-office discussion at Flavorpill about whether Visions was an album about pop music in a kind of very 2012 meta kind of way, or whether everyone was just overthinking the whole thing and trying to read too much into an album that ultimately was pop, plain and simple. Either way, it’d be kinda cool to see her on the same bill as the biggest pop star of them all.


Support act: Beaches

There are of course no shortage of motorik-inspired jam bands these days – just check out the excellent Brand Neu! compilation from a few years back for a selection that includes everyone from Foals and Fujiya & Miyagi to, um, Oasis – but if we had to pick one band to see on the same bill as Michael Rother et al, it’d be Australian quintet Beaches, whose slow-building juggernauts of songs would fit just beautifully with Neu!’s driving rhythms.


Support act: Holy Fuck

And while we’re in Germany, what about Kraftwerk? In this case, we reckon Holy Fuck’s anarchic approach to electronic improvisation would provide a counterpoint to Ralf und Florian’s more studied take on the genre, and perhaps also remind the German masters of the relatively loose nature of their own early records. (As an aside: how is it that no one has yet put Holy Fuck and Fuck Buttons on the same bill and called the resultant tour the “Fuckfest”?!)

Led Zeppelin

Support act: Alabama Shakes

If you’ve seen Brittany Howard and team’s killer live cover of “How Many More Times,” you’ll have no arguments at all with this choice.

New Order

Support act: Darren Sylvester

It’s unfair how talented some people are – like multi-talented artist and musician Darren Sylvester, a man whose photography sells for tens of thousands of dollars, whose latest art project took him to Compass Point in the Bahamas, and whose excellent music falls somewhere between ’80s cocaine rock and Bryan Ferry. Sylvester went as far as to build the same drum machine that New Order used in the 1980s so he could use it on his excellent 2009 self-titled debut album, and we’re sure he’d be happy to be on the same bill as the band in their 1980s heyday.

The Sex Pistols

Support act: Death Grips

Now this’d give the gobbing punks of 1977 a) a fright and b) pause for thought.


Support act: Liars

Actually, this has already happened, which makes perfect sense given both groups’ ample common ground – they’re two bands constantly entranced and excited by the endless possibilities of sound, two bands that aren’t afraid to gleefully burn bridges with their past, two bands that are always trying to do something new and innovative. But still, we’re going to hold out hope that it happens again, ideally with us in the audience.