This page copyright 1998 The Shrubbery
Angry Dan's Column
Stop Worshipping Rock Gods!
by Daniel Strohl
It strikes me as odd that every time I go to a concert, I'm forced into veneration of the people on stage.
Look at it. You've got a mass of people who have paid to see a performing artist, all looking in the same direction -- often at an elevated stage -- and occasionally showing their approval through headbanging, pogoing, clapping, etc. After the concert, if they don't already have the artist's latest CD or T-shirt, they go out and buy it. How different is this from a gathering of Aztecs around their pyramids worshiping their sungods or a Catholic service where all the good Christians sit in pews and watch their priest, bishop or the pope while the architecture of the church forces their eyes heavenward?
People don't normally attend this church of rock and roll once, rather over and over again. I know quite a few people (including myself) who have seen an act more than once on the same tour. I know one guy who went to over 80 shows last year. And they continue to frequent these types of veneration shows. Why?
Because rarely there is any other kind of concert to see. All the concert venues but one which I've been to have the elevated stage. Given, there's a dance floor at all of these places, but how can one dance when there's a thicket of beer-drinking worshippers just standing in front of the stage, hoping some kind of greatness will fall on them from up above?
And the performing artists themselves aren't helping this situation much. In fact, they appear to enjoy it as a big ego boost. It seems to be routine for many of the bigger bands to record an album (rarely playing any of the songs in front of the audience until after the album's released), release it, then play it more or less straight through at every concert afterward. I've encountered this situation with Primus, Helmet, Clutch and sadly enough, my hometown favorites, Big Back 40. No variation, no new songs, no improvisation, nothing. The only bit of difference I see is exactly how much the artists use their guitars as masturbatory devices.
It's for these reasons that I enjoy Dick Dale so much. Despite his ego, he doesn't run through each song exactly the way it was recorded. He also provides a fun show, which I've only seen with one other band, Moxy Früvous, who go entirely against all I'm complaining about.
When Früvous played, people danced. They were on the same level as their fans (both literally and figuratively) and they improvised. They even chatted with fans right after the show. Unfortunately, their brand of pop doesn't appeal to me.
So my advice to today's bands and performing artists is to be more like Früvous. Experiment. Try to act like the people down there in front of you haven't seen you before or even heard any of your stuff. And try to impress the rest of us, because ultimately, we choose whether or not to shell out the 14, 15, 16 bucks for your CDs.
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