19-Apr-2003 (Sat)

Photos of sunday's Pigface, Thrill Kill Kult, Zeromancer, and Bile show are up now, as well as monday's Tarmvred, Iszoloscope, and Exclipsect show.

Apparently the rambling I did in my last entry about laptop acts wasn't very clear to some folks, so let me try that again. First of all, like I said, I did enjoy the music on monday, that's not what I was talking about at all. It just seems to me that when someone is standing there on stage doing their thing, they're saying to the audience, "Watch me. The show is over here." And yet, so often, there's no show.

In the case of a dj, this is somewhat expected: with a few very rare exceptions (Disco D comes to mind), djs don't do anything that's interesting to look at, so people don't really watch them: they dance, or socialize, or whatever. But at live shows, people tend to stand around in rapt attention at whatever's happening on stage, whether there's anything to see or not.

Cybrid are an example of a laptop band who actually have a show: they've got that whole Run DMC gag they do, plus having a vocalist always gives you something to watch. But mostly, laptop acts tend to be one or two guys with their bobbing heads buried in their gear. You assume they're up there creating music, but without going up there and standing next to them, you can't really tell that they're not just playing Tetris or checking their email. When you're watching a drummer, you can tell what he's doing. Drummers and guitarists are just inherently more photogenic than typists, since what they do involves actually moving around.

I guess what I'd say to laptop acts is, "if you have no stage presence, there's a lot to be said for getting a good slideshow."

Meat Beat Manifesto used to tour with a dance troupe!

9 Responses:

  1. atakra says:

    So what you're saying is that it's all about looks? I am so disapointed.
    I used to stand in front of a mirror practicing my guitar moves too, that doesn't make me a decent musician.

    (Far from it, I'm a trumpet player and I usually just think I look fat when I do that sort of thing... As if I couldn't stand to lose a few pounds anyways).

    • jwz says:

      I'm saying that if you're up there saying "look at me", give me something to look at.

      If there's nothing to look at, don't say "look at me."

      • atakra says:

        Hmm, no offense, but it sounds like you're part of the MTV generation to me. A decent show to me is primarially dependant on the sound, the visual aspect is usually secondary unless the band depends on visuals in the first place (IE Butthole Surfers ala Locust Abortion Technician Tour or The Residents on any tour).
        I sort of saw the differences in how we see this after our impressions about that last God Module show. The two bands (who I thought were musicly unbearable) looked good on stage, but the bands who obviously had their music down; God Module and Grendel; were obviously lacking on stage.

        If I want to see Styx play Mr. Roboto in a stadium with the San Francisco Gay Men's Choir, complete with the patented hippy-dippy "white rabbit oil-on-light" gel lightshow, I'd be frequenting that type of show.

        • jwz says:

          Hey, no offense, but kiss my ass.

        • baconmonkey says:

          if it's about the sound, then what's the point of going to a show? a pair of good studio monitors or a decent home stereo are going to sound far more clear than any club system. a well engineered CD will ALWAYS sound better than

          MTV generation my ass. musical performances have, since day one, been about a combination of visual and aural. A Classical chamber orchestra is a million times more interesting to watch than some locker-food nerd bobbing his head while he presses play on his laptop and twiddles a few knobs. even just a director of an orchestra is going to be more interesting to watch. But with a chamber orchestra, that's one of the few cases where it's going to actually sound better live than on cd. But Melvin and his amazing techno laptop, is going to sound monumentally better in a controlled and engineered environment, not a boomy, echoey nightclub.

          You invoke the False Dichotomy of either Good Sound or Flashy Show. A good show need not mask bad music. Both can happen at the same time. But It's ridiculous to pay money just so you can watch the guy who originally made the music, be the one who presses play. I have no desire to pay someone for the honor of watching them do nothing. Even a real band with zero stage presence, zero showmanship, and no props or special effects is still going to be actually doing something if they are playing their instruments.

          and re: practicing guitar moves: no, it won't make you a good musician, but it may make you a more interesting PERFORMER. if all you're doing is practicing guitar moves, and not practicing guitar playing, then you are an idiot. And if you get up on stage with your guitar and just stand there looking bored, that's not much of a performance. you might as well just stay in the studio, because you are not cut out to be a performer. but one can be a good musician AND a good performer.

          • atakra says:

            "if it's about the sound, then what's the point of going to a show?"

            Hmm, that's an interesting take. If it was all about sound, I certainly would never go to shows in this city because all most of the clubs here suck. Just like nearly every band when they play live.

            But I find nearly every show I go to entertaining. Whatever, this is a boring subject.
            The only reason I posted in the first place is because drink #12 was just hitting me and it's always funny to watch Jamie get riled up.

  2. greyface says:

    Personally... I've always taken the route of watching the first couple songs, and if they're just gonna bobble, or twiddle... move to the back of the area and either:
    A) be bored
    B) dance
    depending on whether or not it's dance music, and whether or not it's any good...
    I've heard that Los Angeles (my locale) crowds are even worse than most California crowds, which are supposed to be terrible for responding to live acts. But that's all hearsay, 'cause even though I've been to other places, I didn't go to their concerts... I can't speak to the desires of any actual specific artists... but I'd imagine that if they're making some kind of dance music, that they'd really actually prefer that their audience dance, rather than stare. God knows that you'd actually offend somebody like Aphrodite if you stood around watching him switch his dub plates...

    Last thing (geeze, I do ramble on when it's past my bedtime)... By my reckoning, the difference between the "dance music with some white noise" and the "people whanging away on actual physical items" is supposed to define the genre barrier between "Noise" and "Power Noi[sz]e". Which are (I guess?) supposed to be related in the aesthetic of rhythmn as melody and harmony can go to hell. But for some reason I'm too genre-lazy to ever bother to say 'power noise' when I mean it.

  3. baconmonkey says:

    does zeromancer singer wear the bandages on his arms to cover the tracks and keep his veins from falling out?