Cameron Crowe finished up his 10 episode series Roadies with a clear, yet bittersweet, message. “The Load Out” celebrated the death of the “industry” while stating that the memories of better days would live on through people like Phil. Long live Phil. Toward the end of the episode, all the roadies hug the dead man, symbolically embracing the old days of rock and roll.
Days that are, according to Crowe, gone.
At the close of the episode, Reg (Good old Double D, which does not stand for Due Diligence as Kelly Ann tells the English patsy.) comes running back to the stadium. He has seen the newly dubbed Pistachio’s latest movie. The normally cold Brit becomes overwhelmed by the imagery and comes to pound on the stage door.
There is no response. Reg pounds harder and more insistently on the closed door, standing in the rain, head down and determined to come back.
But, Crowe is telling us that we cannot come back. Old time rock is gone, the industry is dead. Killed by smart phones, the internet and millennials who will never really “get it.”
Above all else it is the industry heads themselves who have killed off the notion of bands working the old way. Preston, played brilliantly, if rather sparingly, by Brian Benben, hires Reg to break up Staten House Band. His plan is to set up a solo career for Tom.
Unfortunately, for Preston, Christopher and Tom start speaking, after Chris returns to Janine, and it seems there may be a bit of hope after all. Except after this scene, we have Reg wanting to come back…
The death of Phil signals the death of the industry as we know it. As Chris B. Hayner implies, Crowe is using the death of “White Buffalo” as the swan song of Rock and Roll in general. There is still hope, however.
If Reg can get someone to open that door, he could become the band’s savior. He told Preston that he could make it work. The only problem being that no one may actually care enough to bring back the band and an old way of entertainment being killed by greed and apathy.
The theme throughout has been that when the band tried to return to the olden days, Kelly Ann, complaint that they never play the old songs anymore, signaled a beginning of the end for the band.
Crowe is telling us, in essence, that Thomas Wolfe was right. You cannot go back. To do so is to invite ruin and a calamitous end. Phil “came back” and died. His temerity is repaid with memories and sudden death.
Another sign that the old ways are gone is Rick’s symbolic shaving of his beard and his marriage to Natalie Shin. He knows that to survive, he must embrace the changes and he does so, although Rick does not look happy at all.
Taken on face value, the season finale of Roadies is bizarre. Granted there is a heavy focus on music, the guest list is long and multi-facetted. Jackson Brown, Eddie Vedder, Robyn Hitchcock and more stop by to pay tribute to Phil. A legend in the industry.
This too could be another message from Cameron Crowe, the legends are gone. Now that rock and roll has left the building, it will not return in the way that we know it. Certainly there are still legends in the industry, The Rolling Stones, for example, but Crowe is telling us that when these go, they will not be replaced.
The creator is probably not too far off the mark. In a time where reality television creates instant “stars” and the Internet slowly changes the way people react with one another this could indeed be the death knell for entertainment as we know it.
On the other side of this coin, how ironic was the final pose of Phil’s? Standing with his arms outstretched, the less than pristine (in life) man is given a Christ-like stature in death. A man who killed two people and stole goods from the victims of Hurricane Katrina is elevated in his death.
Many things were settled in the final episode of Roadies. Natalie Shin becomes validated as more than a stalker-y fan. Shelli and Bill become an couple. Reg realizes that deep inside he belongs in the industry. Bill tells Shelli about that unbroken egg. Most importantly, however, is Kelly Ann getting her nickname; Pistachio.
Herein lies the last bittersweet tone in the episode. Kelly Ann has been fixated about not having a nickname. Lately, however, it has become less of a concern as she becomes attracted to Reg.
Phil’s dying breath is used to grant her wish and he gives her a nickname, something she desired so much for so long. Sadly, It is a name she may never be called as the industry is dying, if not dead already.
Roadies was a brilliant soap opera set in the world of touring bands. Kudos to the cast, and to the guest stars, for giving this show a feeling of reality, their performances all added depth to this entertaining show.
To Cameron Crowe we say thank you for this often funny, and quirky, look at the “backend” of the business.