There is no band. It’s just hair and attitude. There is no band, just a pending record deal with a major label and a video budget of 50K. It’s true what Hunter S Thompson says (though he is referring to the television business): “The [business] is a shallow money trench. A long plastic hallway where pimps and thieves run free and men die like dogs. There is also a negative side.” And there is no scene. Just being Seen. Along with “Seen” politics. Aesthetic that dictates a degree of coolness. It’s like LA but without the diamond in the rough and all the free uncut coke one could consume, which to say is probably similar to every other locale with the exception of small town scenes, where the only escape from the monotony is music.
Whats up in your local scene?
Here’s what a typical bar band with delusions of grandeur go through in a typical 12 month or more cycle.
You have spent the last 12 months rehearsing a handful of songs that are super fun to play in the practice space. You have played a few really fun shows with bands in your scene, who through sheer goodwill gave you an opening slot on a few occasions. The kicker is tenacity…And that insatiable lust to perform loud music for little or no pay. “Living the Dream” as they say. Your ‘friends’ only show up after you send an email notice 12 hours before while IM’ing with one of your ex-girlfriends about the new Joy Division movie that’s coming out. (cause no one fliers anymore, laziness and the ubiquitous myspace generation engender apathy in the most ambitious of bands)
Load in sucks. The promoter isn’t there and you are informed that the promoter doesn’t usually show up until sometime after ten. Course all the work friends that won’t show up anyway would have been bummed as they could’ve spent their time and money at a bar closer to more white people.
You’ve got that one sound guy from that one club who used to do doors at that dive. You know he will undoubtedly fuck up your mix and then give you attitude when you ask him how the balance is. No one is coming to the show. There is no band. No one cares if your mix is bad cause they’re too busy blubbering drunken nonsense at the bar, drinking over over-priced beam and cokes, bleary eyed and 5 bucks short of another drink cause of the cover charge for a band(s) they have no desire to watch.
Reminds me of that one guy who wanted to save the entire scene single-handedly. The hope of stupidity wielded like a light saber against a much younger and more agile sith lord. I think it all came to light watching Patrick Stumpf from venerable shit rock act, Fall Out Boy, sweat his way through a set at Live Earth NYC. Aside from looking like a mutton chopped Chris Farley sans mustache in ‘Da Bears’ SNL skit, his voice sounded like total shit for a song he’s probably sung a billion times. People don’t make any assumptions as to the value they can get because music, as a product has succumbed to being a commodity, as all products do.
They (read: Al Gore) used music to sell the ‘moral’ pledge of us humans need to save the world from global warming. It’s great! I can get behind the cause, ride my street bike everywhere I go, use canvas bags when I shop at trader joes so I can be entered to ‘Win Money to Shop’ at Trader Joes. I’ll turn off the lights of a room when I’m not in it, unplug the fans and iPod charger when they’re not in use so as not to draw power from the grid. I’ll watch all these fucking assholes on Sundance channel, Robert Redford included, when they talk about On The Green and how great it is to be part of the ‘green’ movement. Like some wine stained turd down the toilet of a failed generation of people who turned in their ire for 401k plans and mini-vans.
Its good that conservation is tres chic now. It’s good that people can make money from it and its good that bands, those soapbox standing carnival barkers, can affect some modicum of change in their mindless audience.
There is no band. And the scene is just a diluted body of stagnant piss water, pop shit bubbles to the surface and the pure, raw, charcoal rock of creativity from folks like Planes Mistaken For Stars, sink to the bottom, to soak in obscurity, watching ten years of ‘trying’ puff out like a match in a head wind.
There is an upside to all of it though. Some folks are lucky enough to make it to that great gig in the sky and will find themselves underwhelmed by the vacuity of sharing a stage with a half dozen other contenders of the dwindling attention span.