With a star-studded funeral, the first season of “Roadies” has come to an end. And it did it in remarkable “Roadies” style, full of good music and the life of a touring rock band — or more importantly, those that keep that touring rock band together on stage.
However, the finale was also tinged in misery. Because while the episode centered around a memorial service for the crew’s late messiah — for lack of a better term — Phil (Ron White), it also served as a funeral for rock and roll itself, with a eulogy delivered right to the heart by creator Cameron Crowe.
With the Staton-House Band on the verge of breaking up, the end of rock and roll as this crew knows it is at hand. It was first alluded to in the penultimate episode, which saw the band play a corporate gig for the first time. The age of the touring rock band doing it all just for the love of the music was coming to an end.
The death of Phil, a remnant of the ’70s rock and roll scene who broke into the music business with a little band called Lynyrd Skynyrd, only cemented that.
As the episode started winding to a close, with titans from the music world — Eddie Vedder, Nicole Atkins, Jackson Browne, Robyn Hitchcock and Jim James among the many — gathering to eat and share stories of life on the road, it was corporate scumbag Preston (Brian BenBen) who unveiled the truth everyone must know on some level.
Throughout the season, Preston has been angling to break up the band to send singer Tom Staton (Catero Colbert) solo. His secret weapon was Reg (Rafe Spall), who unknowingly became the Staton-House Band assassin — and did it so well. During the feast scene of the finale, Preston tells Reg, “You have such a future in what’s left of show business.”
This is a dying art form in his eyes. The idea of a band and crew sticking together to tour the world no longer makes sense where the money is concerned — and that’s all he’s worried about.
The upper-crust of rock bands — the Rolling Stones, U2, Coldplay, etc. — can take the world by storm, playing sold out stadium shows. For bands like Staton-House though, arena rock bands, there’s an end of the line for Preston.
Because this isn’t that world anymore. We live in an age where some would argue rock and roll isn’t what it used to be. The music doesn’t mean what it once did. While some will disagree, there’s a generational divide happening and a band like Staton-House could be lost in it.
They operate like the great classic rock bands. That was the purpose of having Phil as the leader of their tour. He showed everyone how to do what they do simply for the love of the music. And without him they’ve all been left adrift.
Being left adrift isn’t being left for dead, though, and Crowe made sure to put an exclamation point on that as the episode came to an end. After spending a season focusing on the crew and their love for the music, a moment was set aside for the band and their love for each other. After falling apart, Staton and guitarist Christopher House (Tanc Slade) may have finally found their peace.
What’s more, Reg — the hired gun who accidentally almost killed the band — realized his life is more than business, suits and making money for people. After a season of being the stuffy British guy everyone mocked, he found his own love for the music. It’s a love that causes him to abandon his first class flight back to England and run back to the arena the band and crew were in, begging to be allowed to rejoin them.
Will he, though? And what would his position be in the band if not their killer? Those are questions Cameron Crowe is going to wait until Season 2 — hopefully — to answer. For now though, take heart in the idea that rock and roll may not be dead. It’s just figuring out what it will become next.