Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Funday - Live Music Discussion with Mike

Hey all, had a interesting discussion with a good friend of mine, Mike, who I have blogged about before, concerning live music in it's current state, and I thought it would be fun to post and grab some peoples ideas on the topic.
Baseball not a live show...def my choice.
Little background, Mike and I have been going to shows together for over a decade now.  We've seen numerous bands all over the country from Vegas to New Orleans, from Florida to Albany and safe to say we've had a rock solid time at most.  Sure there have been some let downs, but there have also been magical moments neither of us will forget.  So when I had an extra ticket for tonight's Black Crowes show I offered it to Mike and it sparked this exchange....

Rock The Body Electric:
 I am pumped for the Crowes tonight...really surprised none of you guys want to come.

 Its more that I don't think I ever really want to see live music anymore,
 barring a Wilco show here and there.

And not to get too esoteric but I think our world live music experience
 as a whole is in need of a serious overhaul. All the music sounds like
 shit, even the "good" sounding stuff sounds like shit still considering
 advancements in technology. And video can be integrated much better in
 larger venues. I think you can make a graph on the increase in ticket
 prices over the last 25 years, the increase in audio/video technology,
 and the ratio in which that's been passed onto the concert goer and show
 how screwed all of are really getting here. And that's not to mention the
 venue side which doesn't allow you to do anything you used to be able to
 do (drink/smoke/do drugs) and forces you to stand there in a room with
 little comfort and drink watered down drinks out of a Dixie cup.

 You could be right about everything you said but as a counterpoint; I
 don't think I believe in god, but I am pretty sure I have seen him/her at
 some live shows lately.

No doubt. But the parallel may be similar to that of the people who prey in
basement chapels vs the Catholics with the big beautiful churches with
stained glass and giant pipe organs. You still find god either way, but one
makes it a little easier to get your family dressed up and drive across
town and wait for god to show up.

Agreed.   The moment of glory can be found anywhere which is why I still go to as many as I can.

Bowling alley's, dirty bars, the Garden.

I love the Crowes lineup and sound now...can't miss this one if it is the last time this lineup tours.

Of course, no doubt.

By the way you would see The Raconteurs for any amount of money...don't forget them.

Right. Them too, of course. If they ever toured.

I do think that the rise of the ticket cost has certainly not been consistent with the overall concert going experience you get.  Hard to say things are that much better now then they were 10 years ago, let alone 30 when the crowd at the Last Waltz bitched that ticket prices were too high, and they were served full turkey dinners before one of the best nights in rock and roll history!!

But I digress, Corporations, parking, security, insurance, taxes, fees, have blown up ticket prices insanely.   Even bands that are notoriously kind to their fans seem to have huge ticket prices today and it does seem hard to justify.  Getting a free copy of the show (digital or CD) afterward seems to be a sweet compromise, but shows that do that charge even it doesn't really add up.

I am not sure, the live music experience is the reason I love music.  It still irks me that bands I like can't pull off the magic live, Hold Steady were a recent example.  Cd's, LP's, Downloads are all well and good, but I look for those frozen holy moments that make everything just stop in my brain allowing me to say "Wow", thankfully that keeps happening at all sorts of shows and a lot where I would never expect it...see the recent Screaming Females set I took in.

The nice thing currently is, I don't care how much that costs....but sure, cheaper would be better, at least then I could tip my bartenders more.

But this isn't an argument for lower ticket prices, this is a plea for a quality sonic and/or visual experience that follows a similar trajectory as the ticket price.  How can I sit at home and have an experience that's worlds away from where it was 20 years ago, but not receive that same privilege in the live arena? Current music culture prevents the artist from making as high of a percentage on ticket sales and has basically given the listener the same quality that was available to us in the 70s. 

U2 seems to be the best (that I know of) in the rock genre to at least attempt it, but to me it's not such a beautiful day.

From what looks like the last row of the old Giants Stadium.

I know what you mean but to me visuals are just a nice added bonus that I could care less about.  Sure when you get a lights guy like Kuroda for Phish it adds to the live experience, but so few bands have that.  The last band whose visuals really impressed me was Dr. Dog, before that was probably the 40 foot high flamethrowers at The Rolling Stones show I saw back in 05.   If the sound sucks though then it is worthless, thankfully that hasn't happened to me in a very long time as I usually hunker down in the back or near the soundboard and care less about getting up front...then again I am getting old.  Thankfully most NYC clubs/big venue's sound systems are top notch.

Guess we should see U2 next tour, huh?  Would be the first time for me...OK done, but you get the tickets.

All NYC live sound still sucks and the ones that don't aren't made for rock, and I'll stand behind that claim. The Edge annoys me, especially after watching It Might Get Loud.

Think of the possibilities. 

I was talking about this with Jen Cole, who was at the time repping B&W speakers, who make a $40k home speaker. I was asking why cant they have like a 250k rig in a venue like, lets say the old CBGB (which opens another can of worms, I know) and blow the $hit out of people's minds? There's no venue that lets say Robb Report or Pro Sound Mag or any of this geek mags stand up and say, "You wanna hear what today's speaker/PA technology sounds like? Go to XXX venue" It's pathetic. And according to her the high end speaker companies would love a showpiece, they just cant justify having a whole venue just to show their products, they're not in the business, they just make monitors. 

I wont even get into the fact that movie lovers get to see 3D surround sound, but us lowly music guys still have to listen in stereo. Imagine a venue that mixed a show like it was mixed as though you were standing in the middle of the band, the possibilities are endless. But, again, I wont even get into that. One thing at a time.

 Thoughts?  Add to the conversation?  Feel free to pipe up in the comments...and enjoy your Friday.

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