This Nashville Scene story about the Nashville Poison/Cinderella hair-fest just about sums up why people like Poison and Lynyrd Skynyrd still sell a lot of tickets but not albums these days.
Tracey Moore's commentary, titled "And It Don't Get Better Than This: Five things I learned at a Poison concert," writes that, for many, Poison and bands like Bush are really in the same boat. Today's Nickelback is tomorrow's Warrant. Seriously, anybody remember how big Bush was about 10 years ago?
Her thesis is best summed up in point two:
Two: what's my age, again? The bands you hear in your formative years are usually your favorite bands for life. As admittedly outdated in her musical tastes as in her acid-washed jeans, the lady I overheard is surely representative of a large percentage of the population - meaning she, like most people, stopped seeking out new music long ago. This starts to happen in your 20s, with rites of passage like graduation, real jobs, marriage and mortgages. This is why you undoubtedly know people who still listen to Pearl Jam's Ten like nothing better ever came along or ever will. Unless you're a bold forward-moving creature - the sort unlikely to romanticize freshman year's drunken binges against the backdrop of Blink 182 - you and your music collection will always bear the mark of nostalgia. I was hanging out with one of my oldest and most musically adventurous friends recently, playing her a new band I was sure she'd love, given her past love affair with punk rock. Right as I was about to play it, she cut me off to turn up Bush's Glycerine on the radio, she and her boyfriend had fallen in love to it. New musical discovery almost never trumps nostalgia.
For more good reading on the hair metal years and the social ramifications of it, read Chuck Klosterman's book, Fargo Rock City. (FYI for Klosterman fans, he's got a new book coming out in Sept.)