After Daughtry and Rage, the scene inside Xcel Energy Center felt all too familiar.
This was going to be another snarky column about another swanky late-night RNC party, and a pretty high-profile one at that.
Wednesday's bash by the One Campaign and the Recording Industry Association of America at Epic nightclub in Minneapolis had the biggest musical act of the conference party scene: Daughtry. Chris Daughtry, that is, the only "American Idol" alum big enough to go with a single name.
He's not as famous as Kanye West, who played the One/RIAA party in Denver, but the shaved-headed rocker has sold about as many records as the huge-headed rapper. Problem is, he's about as interesting as Sen. Bill Frist's toenails.
Watching Daughtry and his band after Wednesday's Rage Against the Machine concert around the corner was like eating stale rice cakes after a giant, bloody slab of Kobe beef. To give due credit, though, Daughtry was playing for charity and Rage was charging $60 (worth every penny, though).
Sen. Frist came to mind because he gave the big speech at the One party and has been one of the disease- and poverty-fighting organization's biggest champions. I'd like to make fun of him and Daughtry, but they're doing genuinely good work. And that's not just the spin from the One staff, although I did get that.
Asked if the Denver party was more hopping than the Minneapolis one, spokesman Tom Gavin gave a political answer about both being "well-attended and well-received." He made a good point, though: "We need to reach out to both parties equally to achieve our goals."
Yeah, I don't think Kanye would've been all that big a hit with the RNC crowd.
With the party scene starting to peter out, I figured I'd head to where the action really was on the final day: Xcel Energy Center. There was so much rah-rah excitement around 6 p.m., and such a spectacle being set up, it reminded me of the Rage concert or any of the 100 rock shows I've seen at the X.
• People lined up to buy T-shirts and buttons for the headlining act. (Alas, no McCain thongs or bongs.)
• Delegates could pose with a big cardboard McCain cutout.
• The people with the elite floor seats got there early. "Look at me!" in other words.
• Parents brought their kids to see the once-in-a-lifetime performance -- and the kids looked about as enthused as if mom and dad had taken them out for a night of roof-tarring.
To be fair and balanced, I also must point out the differences:
• Beer taps were removed. What, were they worried that the McCainiacs might go on a window-smashing spree?
• Most concerts have tables in the concourse for the band's favorite charities. I saw no such booths Thursday -- not even for the Reagan Library.
• None of the over-enthusiastic floor-ticket holders flashed the crowd in the stands.
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