On Justin Timberlake

Monday, March 19, Justin Timberlake performed to a near-capacity crowd at the Mellon Arena in downtown Pittsburgh. His act featured an array of dancers and four runway-type structures along which Justin strutted during his act. The seats that lined these “bars,” which reportedly sold for upwards of $500 a pop, were regarded as the best in the house. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that Timberlake performed as a superstar, and the production racked up “style points.”

A few days later, on March 22, Field Music and Land of Talk opened for Menomena at Lawrenceville Moose on 52nd street in Lawrenceville. Amidst a crowd of hipsters and undergraduates looking forward to the headliner, Field Music might have felt a smidge underappreciated (this author missed Land of Talk’s performance), but in fact they simply fell victim to the infamous “Pittsburgh audience,” whereby the crowd’s reaction, even to precise, virtuosic performances of solidly intoxicating pop or what have you, is a bit of polite applause along with the continuation of ongoing conversations. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the music — because we do, really — we just don’t feel obligated to show it.

Justin Timberlake’s performance, by my rough and by no means authoritative estimates, could have raked in close to $1 million in ticket sales. Admittedly, this might not have paid off all the dancers and event staff, but simply as a matter of scope it is impressive, compared to a few hundred folks in a dimly lit moose lodge auditorium decorated with strings of “ ’70s” aluminized confetti.

Some time after the Timberlake performance, one of the staff members at WRCT, who was in attendance during an executive meeting, suggested that we add Timberlake’s newest album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, into our regular rotation. This sparked what could be called a spirited debate as to the relative artistic quality (some asserted the term was being loosely applied) of Timberlake and, say, Electric Wizard, which I was not qualified to evaluate critically. I am not too familiar with either artist, though in the interests of disclosure I must admit a measure of considered displeasure at the notion of Timberlake’s sensational stadium-raising. But I do hope to say with some measure of authority that Timberlake’s album shall never be shown the light of our record library, except possibly in the future, in the interests of archival. He doesn’t need our exposure.