There’s a show coming to Zoey’s this weekend that, if it were sometime in the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, would have easily filled the grandstand at the Ventura County Fair. The bill features, not one, but three artists who were all on the verge of superstardom with hit songs, TV roles, famous girlfriends and even an appearance in an Academy Award-winning film. For all three artists however, things didn’t necessarily go as planned, mainly because the bulk of their fan base was among the most fickle of followers: teenage girls.
Having a teenage female fan base can be a gift and a curse. On the bright side, they are the ultimate promotional machine. They buy (or more correctly, their parents buy) any and all merchandise, they have all the time in the world to obsess about the artist and they represent a demographic that companies pay top dollar to attract.
It comes with a heavy price, though. Those same teenage girls that can make you famous can send you back into obscurity just as fast. Throw in the fact that more often than not the artist is more admired for looks than for the music being made.
Point is, for every Michael Jackson or Justin Timberlake who evolved his teen-based following into a long-term career, there are countless others who are left to figure out where, exactly, their fan bases went.
If there was a poster boy for this phenomenon, you could very well use the flier for the show in question, which features three examples of the post-teenage fan base dilemma: Ryan Cabrera, Tyler Hilton and Teddy Geiger.
Ryan Cabrera is best remembered for being the boyfriend of several high-profile young starlets, including Ashlee Simpson and Audrina Patridge, both of whom he dated on camera on MTV reality shows. As an artist, though, he scored a huge hit with “On the Way Down” in 2004 and has released four full-length records, though none recently.
Tyler Hilton is known for his acting more than his music, having appeared as a character on the extremely popular teen drama One Tree Hill and a small but spot-on role as a young Elvis Presley in the Academy Award-winning Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. He’s also released several albums, including last year’s Forget the Storm.
Teddy Geiger, the youngest of the three, while still in his teens released the platinum-selling and super-infectious single “For You I Will (Confidence).” He also had a starring role in the big-budget comedy The Rocker, which was a box office flop, and a reccurring role in the TV show Love Monkey, which was canceled during its first season. Now at only 24 years old, he’s prepping the release of a new record that is being fan funded.
Here’s the catch, though: They’re all extremely talented artists. They all deserve to be respected more from a critical standpoint as legitimate singer-songwriters; but alas, all the extracurricular activity, which, to be fair, was financially beneficial and brought them the young female fan base in the first place, now is proving to be a serious obstacle to being taken seriously as artists.
That’s what really makes this show so interesting.
You could be negative and see it as depressing that three former semi-stars have desperately packaged themselves together in the hope of bringing out more fans, but still find themselves playing a small venue in a secondary market, or you can view the show as a great chance to see three exceptional singer-songwriters on the same bill at a wonderfully intimate venue where they’ll be more appreciated for their music then for their roles in whatever TV shows they were on, which you can only hope is what they really want.
Ryan Cabrera, Tyler Hilton and Teddy Geiger perform Friday, Jan. 18, at Zoey’s. 652-1137 or www.zoeyscafe.com.