While this page originally started out as a way to review shows/bands in our area, the need to expand the conversation on live music prompted me to post ideas, thoughts and rants on what I have been observing. Let me make this crystal clear to everybody...I live, eat, and breath anything that relates to live music. From staging, performance spaces, lighting and sound gear..you name it and I'll drool over it.
If that seems like an insult, bear with me and I will try and explain what I mean and why, in today's entertainment environment, that statement carries a little weight.
First of all, anybody that writes songs and then stands on a stage (or the floor in some of Iowa's brain dead clubs) is a hero in my book. I have performed live but always behind a drum kit, so I was somewhat insulated from the crowd. I also sang solo...so low, nobody could hear me. Yeah, not gifted with the pipes. With that being said, it's one thing to stand up on a stage. It's a whole 'nother ball game when it comes to keeping your audience engaged... And there is the rub. When you make the decision to stand in front of people and perform you have to tell the artist inside of you that he has a new roommate - the entertainer.
I'm not talking about running around on stage like a monkey on crack (although that image intrigues me for some reason) but a reasonable effort to supply the crowd with something visual. Something that can keep them focused on the stage. Eye contact, a simple nod, exploring the real estate away from your amp, acknowledging that you are aware of their presence. Here is where I have a huge problem...bands that think or pretend that they are just too far above the people and they should be eternally grateful for being able to witness a snippet of musical genius. And it is this attitude that has thoroughly killed the local music scene. Why do you think DJ's are so popular now? Why do you think karaoke is so popular? Excuse me...I just threw up in my mouth. It's because, no matter how stupid you think it is, it's way more entertaining than watching Johnny Speedbump prove how many notes he can play per second for a set. You might impress a few drunks but the rest of the crowd will be on their phones texting "these guy's suck, ya wanna go to the karaoke bar?"
I can prove this on a grand scale. I witnessed Robert Fripp and his band King Crimson get booed off the stage because all this guy did was sit on a stool and wail away on that black Les Paul. After 15 minutes of this musical masturbation, the crowd of 15,000 started voicing their opinion and more than a few items were throw in his general direction. I considered tossing my bota bag, but it was filled with cold Ouzo and responsible for a magnificent buzz. So you cannot tell me that 15,000 people are wrong. Mr. Fripp is a fine musician but the studio is where he excels, not the stage.
With the the local music scene in the ICU comes the arduous task of rebuilding that scene and gaining the fans trust and not wasting their hard earned money. Factor in the competition from the digital realm and you can understand how vitally important it is to cultivate that trust. Just look at how good the musicianship is compared to twenty years ago. How far recording has come. Anybody can produce a music video and throw it up on YouTube, gain a few million hits, and walk off to the bank without ever performing in front of a live audience. Plus the off the chain production value that is put into the major touring acts. People expect that every time they see a band, local or not! You must translate that experience to a smaller scale and be willing to learn how to pull off a show that leaves people talking and coming back for more. So you see, that is how good you have to be if you want to draw a crowd. Ask yourself and your band...are you that good?
Code Zero Radio is an integral part of the Tailwind Audio brand. Originally developed as a weekly show and podcast, the amazing growth of independent artists, both local and world wide, could no longer be contained on a weekly format. The ability to feature artists that record in our studio and distribute their material for airplay was just a natural progression of our mission statement. Scroll down for the player or link directly to our site. Much more information on what we do there.
Code Zero Radio was launched in December of 2013 and has never stopped innovating ways to support the independent/unsigned music community.
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