The Feminists: A Plague Of Sonic Locusts

Highlight of the Hamilton show: Loading up our gear and getting the fuck out of there.
It wasn’t a bad show because of us, we played quite well. The Underground was highly organized, which thrilled my wee logistical heart, with set times posted on the wall of the green room and a very calm, fast-moving, and professional sound technician. Sets were 25 minutes long, and we were ready with a killer show and all of our gear set up onstage perfectly on time.
Gentle readers, it was a terrible show because there were too many bad bands. They overran the stage like a plague of sonic locusts, if you will. It pains me to recollect the depth of the bad-ness. I hate to sound mean and nasty, so I won’t name any names. But I must purge the dreadful memory from my psyche and try and move on with my life.
Now, I’ve seen more terrible bands than a lot of you ever will. This isn’t a point of pride for me, in fact I’d give anything to have those years of my life back. The amount of bad music that I am exposed to as part of my job has basically resulted in me hardly ever going out to see live music as a civilian. Why bother? Usually I’m disappointed. Most singers have little concept of pitch, most drummers can’t keep a steady beat, most guitarists and bass players don’t know basic harmony or how chord progressions work. I don’t see a lot of keyboardists, but the ones I do see rely on the trippy swooshy sounds that their keyboards can make to cover up their lack of technique and ignorance of music harmony and structure. I believe that musicianship is fast becoming a lost art due to the computer technology that allows engineers and producers to fix bad musicianship in the recording studio before the music is ever released to the public. That’s all well and good unless you’re performing live without a net and then all of a sudden it becomes quite obvious that not being able to sing the melody of a song you wrote yourself IS A PROBLEM when you’re onstage in front of a glaring, bitchy, judgmental, critic such as myself. When you couple this reliance on technology with an almost complete dearth of high quality musical influences, (case in point: Whitney Houston grew up listening to Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey grew up listening to Whitney Houston, Kelly Clarkson grew up listening to Mariah Carey…and who cares about Kelly Clarkson? She makes her money as a singer just like Aretha…but I think that’s about all they have in common. Do you think we’ll ever see Kelly accompanying herself on piano like Aretha can, or writing and arranging her own albums like Aretha did? Methinks not. Without a great original source, every subsequent generation loses a little something when you’re making copies from a bad copy. You end up with music that is devoid of artistry and skill. Ewwww.
Anyway, I don’t normally complain about bad bands – except privately, to my bandmates – but I feel last night’s show was special.
For one thing, on a bill with 5 bands there were two horrible bands and one okay band with a shitty attitude, which is the same thing as being a bad band in my opinion. So basically, there was a 60% shit factor for the evening. 20% shit factor, fine. I can ignore one bad band. But I felt overwhelmed and outgunned by 3 bad bands. I jammed my ear plugs in as far as possible, but there was no escape from the awful, un-melodic, out-of-tune singing, the pathetic drummer that dragged …his …..band ……down……with……… him, the truly god-awful meandering guitar solos, the complete absence of a recognizable song form (Verse? Chorus? Hello?)
The thing that really ground my gears is that the two worst bands played covers during their set. The Underground posted 25 minute sets, remember. We played 8 songs with no talking in between. With stage banter, you could probably get away with 6 songs. One bad band played at least 2 covers, the other played 3. From this I can extrapolate that both bad bands are lacking at least 2 more original songs to complete a short set of 25 minutes. I can also assume that these two bad bands took the stage at one of Canada’s best known rock venues having 3 original songs “ready”. That’s kind of like doing half of the project that was assigned to you, presenting it anyway, and hoping no one will notice the other missing half.
I thought that The Underground was a proud original rock venue. I felt so ripped off, listening to weak, tentative, bullshit covers that were riddled with wrong chords, wrong melody notes, wrong lyrics, and wrong forms. Summer of ’69 has THREE verses, numbnuts. If you’re going to pick a such a well-known song, people are going to notice if you sing the first verse three times.
The band before us sounded pretty good, though until I overheard my bandmates complimenting them on a fine performance right after their set. “Oh god,” the bass player sighed, “that was awful. It didn’t sound good at all, blah blah blah.” When a listener pays a compliment to a performer and the performer disagrees with the compliment, the performer is basically telling the listener that 1.) they are quite stupid to have enjoyed what they heard and 2.) their musical taste is unsophisticated. And good luck with that long term music career, buddy, while you keep telling your audience that they are stupid and unsophisticated.
Ah, I feel a little lighter now.
We drove to Windsor through 3 and a half hours of smog and freeway traffic for our show tonight. It’s really, really hot here and very humid. We’re at a park lolling about until load in. I spent a good portion of the afternoon slowly baking in the sun and contemplating a fountain. This is a lovely park, the oasis we needed after the grayness of Hamilton.