Listening….

Last night I went out to listen to some Punk bands.

Save Ends. Choke Up. Today Junior. Kiss Concert.

Punk really isn’t my thing. I have some Old School Punk, but I don’t listen to Punk routinely.

But… I’m supposed to get out and listen to more LIVE music… so I can understand what music is about these days….

And one of the members of one of the bands is the son of a friend… so we went….

Not bad. Lot’s of energy.

But… I couldn’t understand the lyrics….

I could understand what they were saying between songs….

I could understand what they were saying during the mic checks….

I could understand SOME of the lyrics in the slower… lower dynamic… parts of the song that were there to contrast with the louder… faster… more dynamic parts…. But… just couldn’t understand the lyrics….

Here’s the rub…. Some of the bands had some sonically interesting material. Interesting intervals…. Interesting dissonant chords…. Interesting progressions…. But… the point of ALL of that… is to support the message of the song… which is contained within the lyrics… which is utterly lost… when no one can understand the words as they are being sung…. And… that’s my main issue with a lot of Punk music… it is very simple and gets pretty boring pretty quick…. That’s why Punk songs tend to be very short.

From some of the banter between songs… I’m sure that the lyrics featured a lot of angst and ennui and sarcasm and bitter irony and “I’m so much smarter than you” sass and a great deal of “I’m superior to you so I don’t care what you think”….

But… I missed all of that….

So… the humor fell flat….

As I’ve gone out and listened to more live music (much more) I have noticed that a WHOLE LOT of bands and artists… and venues… have the same issues…. Articulation….

People do mic checks in isolation. One mic. One instrument. Set levels. Adjust. Ok. Sounds good. Let’s Rock & Roll!

But… no one checked the MIX….

The sliders look good. All of the levels are where they should be. Must be good….

Why is this an issue?

Simple. Economics….

The Recording and Entertainment Industry has changed the paradigm for the way it pays dramatically in resent years. The reason U2 gave away their last album… automatically downloaded it onto your iPhone… was not because they are great guys who LOVE their fans…. It was because of the Economics of the Industry…. Bands and artists don’t make money on record sales these days. Records are distributed to create interest for live shows. Bands and artists make money touring. That’s why the price of concert tickets have skyrocketed!

But… to see four bands last night was $8…. The bands got discounted drinks… but weren’t paid…. Just about the only people in the place were band members… and friends… and family….

So… the only one who made any money… was the venue….

The venue provided the sound… so… it ain’t like that was a professional…. His job is to get the bands turned around as quickly as possible….

But… the songs get repetitive… and boring… when all you can hear is a bunch of people banging drums and beating guitars and screaming as loud as they can… but you can’t hear what they are saying….

Punk songs do not have enough sonic diversity to be sustainable as instrumental music….

But… even in Country and Rock and Pop… as I believe it was Vince Gill (who is an incredible guitarist) once pointed out… people don’t show up to hear you play guitar…. They come to hear you sing…. Songs that they can relate to…. Songs that they can connect to…. Even in the Punk genre…. And… that means… they have to HEAR your message… in the lyrics of your song….

That means a couple of things….

One… an artist has to work on sound production… and enunciation… to be effective and consistent delivering their message…. That’s much more important than range or dynamics…. So… THAT is also an area that any aspiring artists cannot neglect….

Two… the SONG must be written in a way that the message contained within the lyrics… and enforced through the music… can easily and clearly and forcefully be delivered….

Time Sawyer did a pretty good job of that at the Southern Ground Social Club in Senoia, Georgia a short while back when I saw them.

Samantha Landrum and Paul Johnson both did an excellent job presenting understandable material when I saw them at Landrum Country a few weeks back.

Bill Clark and the Cee Jay’s and Andrew Ishee did a great job during their Christmas Spectacular.

That makes for enjoyable entertainment.

That’s what people pay to go see.

People connect with the lyrical content of songs….

Pay attention to the details… if you want to get your message across….

It’s not always just what you say, but sometimes it’s how you say it….

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s