So after watching one of the worst things I've ever witnessed happen on TV this morning (a performance by a band called PARACHUTE?!!?) my brain was set on fire to write a little about the state of "rock-n-roll" as I see it these days. . .
There was a time when there was a danger to rock-n-roll. . .a time when not only would things happen outside of gigs, i.e. drug use, drinking, vomitous deaths, dismemberments etc., but when at a show you didn't know WHAT or WHO was gonna happen. . .I think the thing I miss in today's musical "climate" is the unknown. . .the X-factor we could call it. I think at one time the musical movement known as Hardcore supplied the danger. . .the music was dangerous, the people playing the music were dangerous, the very speed at which the music was played was dangerous (both to the crowd and the musicians). Where did the danger go??? Why is the majority of the music that people are paying money to see so safe, so "unrisky"??
Apathy, my friends, APATHY. When Hardcore (and i use this as only one example) was beginning in the early 80's people were pissed off about the dawning of the Reagan years. . .people were afraid that an Orwellian future was right around the corner. . .and the music, hell the arts in general, reflected that. It seems to me that right now everyone is sooooo happy to have a Non-Bush White House that we're just giving politics a pass and not being actively critical about policy making or govt. at all in art. Sure, there are economic reasons for the apathy and sure when unemployment is high its hard to be excited about something that seems so trivial as going to a show or being in a band or part of a community that is trying to present something to the public that is actually both "entertaining" and "enlightening" but if you look back into the not-so-distant past (al la the 90's) where we had a recession and high unemployment we ALSO had some GREAT music being made and some GREAT things being said through it. . .where'd it all go???
I, for one, am tired of everyone selling themselves or feeling like they have to sell themselves as something you'll like if you like something else. . .i.e. "Like Kate Bush?? then you'll love blah, blah, blah." So you're automatically saying that you're ripping someone off?? REALLY???!! (by the way, that was a REAL music ad up on that AMAZING barometer of pop culture, FACEBOOK) What happened to NOT wanting to sound like someone else or spending a great amount of time at least TRYING to not sound like someone else??? Too many of today's bands seem to start up under the premise that "No, we WANT to sound like this band, this band and this band so that we can sell records. . ." After being on the road for most of the year I can attest to the fact that I've seen A LOT of bands who seem to be based around that very idea. . .and its so very sad.
I know this sounds like a crotchety old man grumbling about the "olden days" or like I have nothing better to do (both of which are more than slightly true) but as a music lover and a musician who loves this thing called rock n roll like crazy I fear that we're reaching a breaking point of some magnitude. . .a point where music's ability to engender change or at the VERY least challenge a mind to some thought is weakened beyond repair. . .this scares me. I think my friend JayLeo was very prescient when he said that the music "scene" was gonna go back to a more regionally local level. Where bands and fans would be more about what was going on in their respective "backyards" than in the rest of the country. I think this is a good observation. . .maybe its time to start over, push the reset button and give each of our local communities a little love in the rock and roll dept. Maybe that'll start bringing shows back to more locally run venues and a more DIY approach can be allowed to creep back in. . .which just might also allow some of the danger back in as well. . .who knows???