In 95% of the concerts I’ve seen (mostly modern rock*,) the theory of selecting your opening band(s) is basically, stick to the same basic subgenre (e.g. emocore, pop punk, etc.) but not choose a similar enough band that the opener can realistically have been said to have been influenced by you.
With two exceptions I can think of.
I’ve seen Maritime (with the distinctive lead singer formerly of The Promise Ring) headline supported by Mumpsy, and not only are they both straightforward happy indie pop rock but Mumpsy’s singer also sings with a noticable lisp like Davey’s.
I’ve seen Coheed and Cambria supported by Armor for Sleep, and they sound different enough that I wouldn’t consider Armor for Sleep influenced by Coheed, except that nearly every one of their songs mentions them wondering if This world is really real – or maybe a dream?
which is also a major theme in the overarching story of Coheed’s albums. So content-wise they are very similar to Coheed.
Any other bands you’ve seen together in which one was definitely influenced by the other?
*Non-modern rock is a counterexample-- in the OTHER direction. I’ve seen Heart often have a punk-ish solo artist called Lennon open for them and Elvis Costello (classic in age if not in genre) have alt-country artists open for him (altho he could have been said to inspire alt-countriers he wasn’t in the “i’m gonna play a lot of americana” mode those concerts so the genres of what the bands actually played were nothing alike.)
The Allman Brothers, Little Feat and Santana all opened for the Grateful Dead on several occasions, both back in the early daze of the late 60’s/early 70’s as well as in the final few years that the Grateful Dead performed. (the last G.D. show was July 1995)
As a sort of upside-down example, some of the bands invited to open for Pearl Jam have been older acts that they’ve cited as their own influences – Sonic Youth, Frank Black, Cheap Trick, Iggy Pop, etc.
Last year I saw Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone open for the Zombies!
(They came on with their current touring band and did one set, and then came back with the rest of the original Zombies (more or less) and performed Oracle & Odyssey.
Here’s a review
And, going the other way, I saw Chris DeBurgh open for Supertramp back when he was starting out and was a solo performer!
Spinal Tap has done this. They opened for themselves as The Folksmen (the folk act in A Mighty Wind, but before that movie was made), and were reportedly both unrecognized and booed by the audience. I remember reading one of the performers saying it was pretty strange to be booed by people who wanted you to get off the stage because they’d rather see…you!
Damnit, I was going to post this! I saw The Police in Sydney, and Sting’s son’s band Fiction Plane opened. They were remarkably similar, to the point where I said to my boyfriend, “I swear this is the 80s Sting using time travel to front two bands at once!” (I had no idea who Fiction Plane was until I wiki’d it later )
I will note though that at the show I saw, between Fiction Plane and The Police we were all treated to Fergie. I kind of get the link - she did a couple reggae songs. But really. Fergie?
I felt awkward for the poor girl. She kept saying things like “I know you guys know this song! Sing along! C’mon!” but you could hear crickets chirping when she’d turn the mic to us.
In 2002, Neko Case opened for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Obviously a lot of differences in their music, but Case’s music definitely seems to me a natural step in a sort of American-roots-plus-postmodern-gloom way. Also, their names are weirdly similar.
Lat year, Todd Rundgren made his fans very, very happy by performing his classic album “A Wizard/A True Star” in it’s entirety. It was one of the longest LPs ever made at 55:56. But that wasn’t quite long enough for a modern concert, so there was an opening act - a version of Todd’s old band Utopia performed the opening set as a surprise.
He’s doing the same thing later this year with his albums Todd and Healing.
I’m not and never have been a huge Kiss fan, and I’ve never gone to one of their concerts. But I give them a LOT of credit for this: Over the past 30+ years, almost EVERY big name in heavy metal has served as Kiss’ opening act, at one time or another.
Rush, Judas Priest, Queensryche, Iron Maiden and the Scorpions are just a few of the bands that toured as Kiss’ opening act.
I’ve seen lots of bands that picked lame-o opening acts because they were afraid of being upstaged. No one can accuse Kiss of that kind of cowardice.
Wasn’t there a time in the early 1970s when the New Riders of the Purple Sage would open for the Grateful dead with Jerry Garcia on pedal steel and Mickey Hart on drums? When the Dead were brought out, Dawson and Nelson would stay with them for an acoustic set. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Riders_of_the_Purple_Sage
I went to see Natalie Merchant in the mid 90s. Her opening act (can’t remember her name) was exactly the same style of voice, look, music…my friend and I actually weren’t sure during the opening if we were watching Natalie or not. “Is this her?” “I wonder if she’ll play her old songs?” A girl standing next to us also asked us if this was Natalie playing.
When the opener left and Natalie came on, we all gave a little embarrassed shrug, and enjoyed the rest of the show.
I saw Primus open for Rush back in '92. On the surface, their music might not sound very similar, but they really are; Les Claypool has never made a secret of the fact that Geddy Lee is one of his influences.