1-Oct-2003 (Wed)

Photos of the God Module / Tesseract7 / Control Theory show are up now.

The first two were bands (live guitar, bass, and vocals, plus backing tracks.) Control Theory was ok (though I'm pretty tired of "cookie monster" industrial vocals) and I enjoyed Tesseract7 (who were more of a metal band.)

God Module was karaoke.

That "band" consisted of two guys and a girl, all of whom took turns singing. Their microphones were, in fact, turned on, but that's just about it. The girl's keyboard was not hooked into the sound system: it had a bunch of cables plugged in, but they didn't go anywhere. In fact, I don't think it was even powered on. She did spend the whole set pretending to play it, however.

The two guys took turns at the other keyboard. However, the only time any sound (besides the DAT) originated on that side of the stage was when the big guy was over there, which was roughly every third or fourth song. Any time you saw the other guy moving his hands... that's all he was doing, moving his hands. (I know this because I went up to the sound booth to check.)

God Module played here once before, and that time there were only two of them, and I'm pretty sure they didn't play a damned thing that time either (their only instrument had no power cord and no lights.)

How can you do that?

How can you get up on stage and lie to your fans' faces? How can you stand there and pretend to play a keyboard that you know full well is not even plugged in? How much contempt must you have for your audience to do that?

It makes me absolutely furious.

26 Responses:

  1. baconmonkey says:

    some of those midi controller mini keyboard things (like GM used) can be powered by batteries, but that seems like a really stupid thing to do.

    • jwz says:

      Show me any piece of consumer electronics that has no power indicator.

      Besides which, I believe (from looking at the old pictures) that it's the same controller they had last time... except that this time, it was awash with LEDs.

      • baconmonkey says:

        ahh, I couldn't tell in the picture of it from this time.

        maybe they're following the following logic:
        VNV is popular
        VNV couldn't play a police whistle, much less a real instrument.
        therefore, VNV's popularity must be due to not playing instruments.
        Thus anyone wanting to become big should not play instruments.

        one of the bands on Saturday at flavor used a sampler in an interesting way. it had the bassline, but they guy was setting the tempo via a tap-tempo feature, so the tempo of the backing sequence was controllable. he was also triggering various other things live. It was a pretty cool use of technology for performance instead of "pressing play"

        • kyronfive says:

          You know what's funny about that? When J and i saw VNV in Germany in June they had - i kid you not - THREE KEYBOARDISTS playing live onstage with them.

          THREE.

          I had NO IDEA a mini-disc was so much work.

      • dominobutter says:

        it looks like the oxygen 8 is on. since it can run off of battery or usb power, the only indication of power is the LCD display. you can make out something in this picture:
        http://www.dnalounge.com/gallery/2003/09-30/210.html

        that doesn't really mean much, though. i just felt he deserved partial credit for at least powering up his keyboard.

        • hafnir says:

          The Oxygen8 was definitely on, and I even saw him change the octave and playing around with his little sampler under it. I couldn't really hear what he was doing, though - I think he might have triggered a vocal sample at one point, but I couldn't really tell.

          It's just the girl's keyboard, I really don't think it was even on.
          http://www.dnalounge.com/gallery/2003/09-30/211.html

          • jwz says:

            In September, the Oxygen8 was on, and the Korg was off.
            In January, the Oxygen8 was off.

            • zapevaj says:

              This is reminding me very much of a particular conversation one night after Death Guild, wherein someone *cough* dumped a glass of water on John Adams.

  2. dzm6 says:

    What are the odds that these schmoes on stage are unaware that their instruments' cables Go Nowhere, Do Nothing? It may be possible that they're such abysmally poor musicians that their promoter, without their knowledge, has replaced their Real Instruments with DAT and they haven't noticed yet.

    Maybe.

    Or maybe they're just fucking liars.

  3. jwm says:

    Was it the fact that they were faking it really the problem, or
    was it because the music was so pedestrian and the act so insipid that
    you couldn't help noticing that was the real problem? After all,
    most music videos are lip synced, and Top of the Pops has been for
    ever1

    I'd quite like to see a band who's DAT tape karaoke act is played up
    as a gimmick, Club Silencio style.

    1. Ok, so most of the acts on Top of the Pops are the latest
    boy/girl band to be spawned out of the record label cloning vats, but I've
    seen one or two acts that aren't too bad. I quite like the video for 'The Spy in the Cab',
    by Bauhaus, for example

    • reddragdiva says:

      VNV don't pretend to be a live band. They even use exactly the same backing tape live as on the records!

      • chromal says:

        Wow, that's some pretty nice gear they aren't playing. I wonder if I could trade them for my old Yamaha DX-100. I'd get some use out of it, they (apparently) wouldn't notice the change. :) I guess they use their stuff to produce with in the studio. Yeah, it's a definite fuck you to the people who paid to see them perform their music live.

        • reddragdiva says:

          Well, the singing is live. But the backing tracks really are identical to the studio versions. The version of "Epicentre" performed at the DNA late 2001 includes the same out-of-phase mixing error on the bass as on the recorded version!

          (The bassline is out of phase, meaning that on a mono sound system it disappears entirely. This was discovered the hard way at Melbourne goth club Heresy - and even the live version does exactly the same thing, which is evidence that it really is exactly the same backing track and VNV can't be bothered fixing it or even doing a different version for live play.)

    • novadrome says:

      FischerSpooner does this. They poke fun at themselves and pop culture/ fine arts throughout their shows. "That better be a F*cking DAT that's playing! Do you know how hard it is to make it look like we're actually singing up here?"

    • There's an important distinction between music videos and concerts.

      We expect music videos to be produced, so lip synching doesn't faze us. We (at least, those of us who aren't a bunch of shuffling zombies) expect concerts to be a performance. As in, expect the people standing up there on stage to be doing something to entertain us.

  4. kyronfive says:

    I don't have a problem with industrial karaoke so long as it is honest. Case in point: FAV played with a mic and a DAT. And it was a great show. And he made no pretenses about fake gear. So i respected that. But if you bring gear onstage for the sheer sake of looking like you're doing something live, that's just fucking wrong. Me and J have a thing - we will NEVER book a band if we know for sure that's what they are going to do. Because it's like lying to an audience.

    My biggest pet peeve, however, is when bands put chicks on stage to play instruments that aren't even plugged in just to get attention with the "HOT CHICK ON STAGE!!" quotient.

    Sieze, whom i saw live in Germany, did this, and it pissed me off the whole show. They had a chick playing a keytar... except it wasn't turned on and her hands didn't actually hit a key the entire show. I was so irritated.

    • People do the karaoke because they figure 99 percent of people WON'T NOTICE.
      And for the most part, no one does.
      The audience think they are seeing a show, and for the performers, it's easier to dance and put on a show and get into people's faces, IF YOU ARE NOT PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT ...Especially an instrument as visually boring (and usually) stationary as a keyboard!

      People who are musicians or work on the tech side of things notice. Like us. No one else cares. Smoke and mirrors.

      There is a definite factor of "I'm faking this" that must go through their head and make them feel guilty (we hope).

      Yeah, really. Just get up and dance instead. At least that's honest!

      • kyronfive says:

        So what, exactly, is the problem you had with what i wrote?

        • Just seems like an oxymoron.
          "honest" would be like "writing & playing your own song" and karaoke is none of that.

          • kyronfive says:

            Sure, in an ideal world, every band would have the ability to play all of their music live. However, some music simply does not lend itself easily to being played in a live environment. For example, an overwhelming majority of electronic music. In those instances, i don't mind seeing a band who relies extensively on backing tracks providing they are entirely open about it. For example, i saw EC8OR play at the Bottom of the Hill with one DAT and two mics. And it was a fucking GREAT show.

            My feelings are this: if you don't have the wherewithall to play live, that's fine with me, I just don't want you to lie about it. Don't put a keyboard on the stage and pretend because to play it because you think it will give people a better show. If that's all it is than find something more creative to do with your time onstage. Or don't play live at all.

            • cypherpunks says:

              (sorry for using this stupid login, but I'm not cool enough to have LJ account)

              A live music have something that can not be recorded. The temporary link created between the performer and the audience, sometimes called telepathy. An important part of that is uniqness: knowing that there will never be another show just like this.

              One can enjoy a VNV gig, but it's just like a deejay, which can be fun, but not as fun as a live performance.

              some music simply does not lend itself easily to being played in a live environment. For example, an overwhelming majority of electronic music.

              This is completly untrue. Everything can be played live. And if you can't play a piece live, adapt it, or keep it off the setlist.

              There are countless examples of complicated and heavily-sampled music played live: the Young Gods only use drums and samplers, yet they use no sequencers on stage -- everything is triggered live. Dror Feiler (amazing Swedish noise composer) is using pre-recorded samples for backing, but they are not pre-sequenced, rather randomly played by his laptop. Coil are using couple of laptops, but they are controlled live: no two shows are alike. Neubauten have a cut called "Black", which was composed by shutting down the lights in the studio, playing blind. On stage, they're trying to imagine the same thing when playing. And I'm sure there are much more examples.

              In comparison to this, "industrial" is easy: all it takes is a drumkit and a synth with an arpeggio key.

  5. kyronfive says:

    By the way, why did you delete Sam's comment? He didn't say anything negative and he was even agreeing with you.

    • jwz says:

      Cause it was boring, and cause I thought it might make him EVEN MORE PARANOID! Don't tell him please.

  6. tritone says:

    I forgot that half of MV was dead, so I was really disappointed to discover you hadn't actually booked them.