Special Guest Post: What’s in a Name? By Eric Nuzum

music man in the zoo
Photo by PoPville flickr user annejuliet

The following was written by PoP contributor Eric Nuzum. You can read Eric’s previous contributions here.

Perhaps I’ve just been too busy with diaper-changing duties for the amazing tiny human being that my wife and I welcomed on Christmas Day, but this news somehow got passed me for awhile. In January, concert megaenormopus Live Nation quietly changed the name of their amphitheater in Bristow, Virginia, the venue formerly known as Nissan Pavilion.

I was driving down the road last week when I heard a radio announcement for an upcoming show there and said out loud to myself, “Did they just say what I think they just said?”

They did.

When I got home, looked it up and learned that Nissan Pavilion is now known as (if this is news to you, please brace yourself):

Jiffy Lube Live.

Yes, you read that correctly. Greater Washington’s largest rock concert venue is now known as Jiffy Lube Live.

It’s such a jawdroppingly ridiculous idea that it almost zaps all the joy out of making fun of the name. I mean, there are probably no two words in the English language with less rock-n-roll cred than “jiffy” and “lube.”

And if that weren’t enough, they somehow decided to “jazz things up” a bit by adding “Live” at the end, as if simply naming the place “Jiffy Lube” wouldn’t do (though that might confuse people who want to go to an actual Jiffy Lube). Some consultant wearing a $200 tie thought the addition of “Live” at the end of “Jiffy Lube” would somehow make it more exciting. I mean, you wouldn’t want to end up with some unexciting name like, say, Nissan Pavilion or Verizon Center or anything.

But most shocking of all is that Live Nation made this change just a few weeks before the Justice Department ruled on anti-trust concerns over their merger with Ticketmaster. If word of this had spread before Justice gave the okay, I’m sure this would have scuttled the deal. Even the most ardent free market zealot has to admit there are some cases where The Man can have too much unchecked power–like the power to call a rock venue Jiffy Lube Live.  Continues after the jump.

Regardless, I just can’t imagine some road-hardened rock god with long blonde hair and leather chaps walking out on stage and screaming, “Are you ready to rock, Jiffy Lube Live?!?!?!?” Or “Wow! You people at Jiffy Lube Live know how to party!!! Rock on Jiffy Lube Live!!!”

Once there was a time when we named things after great people. Let’s say your local library was called the Alvin M. Drool Memorial Library. You had no idea who Alvin M. Drool was. You could care less who Alvin M. Drool was. You just could assume that Alvin M. Drool was more than likely (a) old and/or dead, (b) beloved by many, (c) and probably loved books.

Then came a time when we stopped naming things after great people and started naming things after people with great sums of money. When you drove past a university’s Chester R. Shotenburgson School of Theater and Dance, it was no longer necessary to assume Chester R. Shotenburgson was old, dead, or well-liked. Mr. Shotenburgson didn’t even need to care about dance or theater. Chester R. Shotenburgson just had a big wallet and a university that was trying to get get their hands in it (all while paying lip service to his outstanding record of service in the community).

Then, finally, we’ve arrived at a point where we not longer name things after people with great sums of money and simply just name things after great sums of money. Seriously, it seems anyone who wants to call anything whatever they want can simply make sure they are the highest bidder. Naming a concert venue after a chain of automotive service convenience stores? I rest my case.

But, just for argument’s sake, let’s say I had a large amount of money, a very large amount of money, and nothing productive to do with it. When Live Nation was accepting bids to rename Nissan Pavilion, let’s say I entered a bid to call it Eric’s Big Fuckpile of Rock-N-Roll Magic Awesome–and that everytime someone mentioned this title, he or she had to make a laser sound effect with their mouth afterwards (an addition suggested by a consultant). Now let’s say I outbid the Jiffy Lube folks by just ten dollars.

Guess what?

This June, when you went to see the Doobie Brothers, you’d be pulling up to a big sign welcoming you to Eric’s Big Fuckpile of Rock-N-Roll Magic Awesome. On the way, you’d get lost and have to stop at an Exxon station to ask directions to Eric’s Big Fuckpile of Rock-N-Roll Magic Awesome. The next day, when telling your co-workers about the show, you’d say it was worth going, despite the terrible parking situation at Eric’s Big Fuckpile of Rock-N-Roll Magic Awesome.

And don’t forget the laser sound effect–I would have paid millions to make you do that.

So, what do you think dear readers? Is it possible to have an authentic rock-n-roll experience in a place called Jiffy Lube Live? Will this name change affect your interest in seeing shows there? Are the Doobie Brothers capable of producing an authentic rock-n-roll experience, regardless of venue?


19 Comment

  • Funny you mention the Doobies…

    As I recently mentioned, I am an old, unabashed fuddy duddy. The last show I saw at this rock venue (“in my day we called it Nissan Pavilion…”) was Steely Dan and Michael McDonald. This was a couple of summers ago, and my friends and I brought some drinks to enjoy in the parking lot before heading in. (Amusing aside: The dude who parked next to us in his late model Grand Caravan was sporting a (to the best of my knowledge, unironic) “MILF Hunter” t-shirt and apparently had a bag of pot in his lap when he paid the teenager to park. Immediately upon parking, he was promptly arrested and I don’t think our MILF Hunting friend got to hear a note.) We figured that being old, the parking lot gestapo would leave us alone but no such luck. While we didn’t get “caught” they stopped by every 15 minutes or so to remind us that there was no drinking in the parking lot. It was not an enjoyable experience at all. It was in fact one of the least “rock and roll experiences” I’ve ever had. This wasn’t apt to be a rowdy crowd, which is what made the super strict enforcement all the more confusing. All I wanted to do was enjoy some sangria in the parking lot before kicking back to a little Deacon Blues.

    I haven’t been back since. It’s way too far to drive for an experience that is pretty much the opposite of fun. (Nevermind that I’d now have to say “Jiffy Lube Live” out loud.) I’ll be sticking to Wolf Trap for my future old people concerts.

  • I think people will call it by what they remember it to be.

    I still call the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA (awesome venue) Great Woods, and that was before it changed to the Tweeter Center.

    • I am enough of a fuddy-duddy that I still refer to the Verizon Center’s (long demolished) suburban predecessor as “Capital Center.”

      My few experiences at Pavilion Formerly Known as Nissan suggested that the security there is even more fascist than the PG County thugs who took unconcealed glee in harassing and intimidating not only obvious party animals, but also the tiny little hippie chicks who just wanted to hear Jerry. They used to run undercover cops, as well — had top keep an eye out for Chucks and Levi’s jean jackets, which I guess was a close to hippie wear as the cops could scrounge up.

      In response to Eric’s original post, I think that it’s the bands rather than the venue names that determine whether great music can be made at places like Jiffy Lube Live. I expect [insert fave live band here] could make even the Evangelical Republican Country Club and Detox Center (Live!) sound pretty good. The worry is if Jiffy Lube decides that its corporate image can’t tolerate the kind of bands who might draw aging beer drinkers and decides to book only the kind of acts that draw wholesome families and don’t use dirty words between (or in) their songs.

      Old old-timers will recall that Merriweather PP once banned rock and roll music because of the crowd’s behavior, whose to say that one of those $200 tie guys won’t do the same at JL2?

  • excellent post. i will definitely be calling it
    “Eric’s Big Fuckpile of Rock-N-Roll Magic Awesome”

  • I think I went to a leather bar by the same name in Amsterdam.

  • Not being the type that’s at all interested in mass-market music (i.e., the kind of stuff that would book such an venue in the first place), I’d nevertheless go WAY out of my way to see ANYBODY at a place called Eric’s Big Fuckpile of Rock-N-Roll Magic Awesome (pfew! pfew!). Yes, yes I would.

  • Wow. Just. Wow. Jiffy Lube Live? Good god that’s terrible. I definitely don’t think that the name of the venue matters to the bands, but the venues have gotten ridiculously out of control themselves. Way too much money for any refreshments, parking lots are so strict nowadays (even just 8 years ago when I was 17, I would go see Dave Matthews at Tweeter in Philly, and we never got hassled for drinking in the parking lot), the whole experience is just not as fun. I couldn’t even imagine having gone to concerts that my parents had gone to – the Dead concerts must have been ridic!

    Granted, there are still some decent venues left. The Gorge Ampitheatre out in George, WA is well run, parking lot is so fun, there’s a campsite that you can see from the venue (I went to see Dave out there with my brother and parents). Too bad it’s on the other side of the country.

  • I don’t think anything short of a Beatles reunion featuring all the original members could drag me out there. It’s in a terrible location. I don’t know why RFK Stadium isn’t used more often for large concerts and festivals. It’s centrally located, easy to get to by train, car or bus, and it’s big enough for just about any act.

  • this was covered on DCist last month

    • It was in the Post too. It’s surprising how little attention this got.

      • saf

        It’s got no attention because we can’t allow it to matter.

        Inaccessible venue that claims to be in DC and overcharges in a big big way = no need to ever go there, no matter who they book. Hence, no need to acknowledge its existence.

  • I think it’s awesome. They should be forced to keep the name for eternity. I think it is so dumb that people re-name stadiums all the time. Just call them all “RFK.”

  • With the Ticketmaster fees, overly inflated conession prices, impersonal atmosphere, facist parking lot rules, long drive from anywhere short of Manassass, and shitty traffic getting in and out…having “lube” in the name sounds about right.

  • I find it fitting that the worst venue around here (2hr drive w/ traffic)now has a name to match. Actually, perhaps they can do some cross promotion and offer oil changes while you go to the show.

  • I dislike the corporate sponsored name. Once the arena has been built it should be named after the city it’s in. After all the city probably paid for it with taxes etc and will benefit from it as well…How soon will it be before the Washington Monument becomes the corporate name with the deepest pocket monument?

  • Yeah, this is old news… sorry. However, yes – Jiffy Lube Live is the worst name imaginable, on so many levels. But, come to think of it, I fucking hated Nissan Pavillion, and will still hate it, despite the name. It takes forever and a day to get out of that place when a show is over (can anyone remember the Radiohead fiasco?), and is usually filled with a big pile mud and of douchebags.

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