I thought about just tweeting a snarky joke and a link to this story, but it's so bizarre I felt like I had to discuss it in a little more detail.
So basically Sports Illustrated is combining their venerable Swimsuit Issue with indie rock in a way that I still do not fully understand after reading the article about five times. Apparently different indie bands, including fairly big acts like The Black Lips and Toro y Moi, will be featured alongside each model. I'm not really sure what they mean when they say the bands will be "featured?" Because I don't know if anyone wants to see the guys from The Black Lips bronoodling on a beach when they pick up a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. They want to see hot chicks. In swimsuits. It's pretty straightforward.
The online component of this unholy alliance makes a little more sense (only in that the magazine part makes absolutely no sense at all whatsoever in any fashion), in that exclusive tracks will be released through the Sports Illustrated website.
But the most bizarre aspect is the fact that the whole thing will commence with a big, weekend-long rock festival at The Cosmopolitan. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Beauties and Beats Festival (yep, that's actually what it's called) will be The Cosmo's first such event and take place over the weekend of February 14. The ten bands will play across a variety of stages along The Cosmo's (often strangely empty) casino floor. Oh yeah, and the whole thing is sponsored by Lexus.
The corporate sponsored mix of indie rock and swimsuit models seems like it will be an epic fail. I don't see what a sport's magazine's special issue featuring hot chicks in swimsuits has to do with indie rock, other than the fact that people who listen to indie rock are a desirable demographic whose money they want. My favorite part of the article is the last paragraph, when Rehhan Choudhry, The Cosmo's director of entertainment and special events attempts to explain the thinking behind the fest:
"The audience we brand as 'the curious class,' they're lifestyle enthusiasts, people who travel the world and seek authentic, meaningful experiences," Choudhry says. "Frankly, they're an audience that never visited Vegas before…It's very difficult to create a meaningful experience for them, you can't fake it."
I'm not really sure how marketing a supposedly "indie" festival with "Swimsuit Beauties" in its name that is presented by a sports magazine and co-sponsored by a luxury car company can be seen as anything but "faking it" to that ill-defined curious class they keep targeting. I'm not really sure I've ever bought into the idea of "selling out," but if the partners in this venture are trying to attract an audience that values authenticity, then the approach to this festival seems patently bizarre.
Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps LA Eastsiders will roadtrip to Vegas and make the weekend a success as they ride the Toro y Moi chillwaves, sip on organic craft brews, hang out at the Chandelier Bar, and pretend they're too enlightened to stare at the swimsuit models.