Thursday, November 15, 2007

"The State of Music"

A friend of mine pointed out this editorial in The Voice of San Diego and it did nothing less than piss me off. Not so much for the content of the article, but by the things said by some of the commenters.

From the editorial:
Bands such as Drive Like Jehu, fluf, Rocket From the Crypt, aMiniature, Trumans Water, Uncle Joe’s Big Ol’ Driver, Inch, No Knife, Deadbolt, Creedle, Chune,Heavy Vegetable, and Three Mile Pilot proved that musically dissimilar bands could not only co-exist in the same scene, but also play together on the same bill, on the same night -- what a concept!
I'm definitely not dissing any of those bands from the 90's, because I loved many, if not most of them, and went to see them when I could at the old downtown Soma or World Beat Center, or at various street fairs and festivals, and even procured a fake I.D. to get into other places prematurely, but I'm just a little tired of the waxing poetic about those days as if there was nothing ever before then or after that can compare. Additionally, to call on the same 13 bands as representative of the entire scene, which I myself have been guilty of doing, isn't fair to the hundreds of other bands of the time who all had their own niche- just as identifying 13 bands today that represent all of San Diego would be a gross oversight.
Whereas the DIY/indie rock movement -- regardless of genre -- was once the unifying force, the local scene now appears to be driven by small cliques or sub-genres.
Really? That hasn't always been the case? As a high schooler trying to "fit in" with that 90's scene, let me tell you, it was a mirror of high school type cliques. Maybe it's just harder to see it as such when you're in the clique but from an outsiders perspective, that scene was just as insular as any we see today. What was also interesting is that the commenters then go on to agree about the "image over substance" argument, and then say "How come there's no XYZ clubs to play XYZ music?" and go on to list the one tiny niche genre that they like and basically everything else sucks or sounds derivative or whatever.
Music fans in San Diego have a multitude of bands, genres and venues from which to choose, yet musical tastes appear to be more pigeonholed and ghettoized than ever -- where is the sense of adventure and experimentation?
There are a lot of bands and venues to choose from. And I can easily name unrelated and dissimilar bands who sometimes play together but if they can't land on the same bill, at least go ut to support one another, at least on nights when that they're not playing their own shows. And there are a lot of bands who you might not see out on the town if they're not playing, but with more bands performing, rehearsing, and recording, all the while most maintaining full time day jobs, I don't hold it against a band if on their one or two nights off, they just sit at home.

And for the commenters who are all bitch- bitch, whine- whine, the ones that really pissed me off about the whole article, I go out a lot. A LOT. And I see a lot of people at shows, and I also go to shows with very few people. And I go to street fairs and coffee shops and wherever I can to get a fix of music. I'm sorry there aren't a ton of local country bands or Honky Tonk or tribute bands or whatever each of those people were calling out, but to say bands today suck, and venues today suck, and the scene sucks, and hipsters and scenesters suck, and on and on and on...well, it's been said a million times, and it's still just as tired. Do something or shut yer piehole. Promote shows. Book bands. Start a band. Go to see local shows and decide for yourself, in person, if they really suck as bad as you think, or if you're just cranky and cantankerous and longing for your glory days.

Lastly, to the commenter talking about San Diego being the "third wheel" in California- I have complained many times that touring acts sometimes skip our city entirely. However, on that same note, if a band does decide to pass through San Diego, it's a good idea to go see them and support them, or why would they even bother coming back? When the Long Winters played to a room of less than 20 people, it was embarassing. Showing up to shows is the surest way to get a band coming back. Even if it's on a Tuesday.


Erica Ann Putis said...

Holy shit! Only 20 people went to see The Long Winters? That's crazy!!

andrea said...


catdirt said...

what the fuck is "voice of san diego?" that writer is a clueless idiot, note his(her?) failure to reference a single active san diego band.

petro said...

Right on Rosie! Tell it like it is! What a great, well though out, and passionate response. Our scene is what we make it, we're all responsible for it!

Lazy John said...

Venues face a dilemma - how does one keep the dirtbags out without going out of business?

The key to enjoying shows is to stop paying attention to the audience and focus on the band. Such is usually possible, though on occasion, audience members try to upstage the band, ruining the show for everyone (e.g. at the King Khan and BBQ gig at the Pink Elephant - a few idiots nearly caused several injuries).

Lazy John said...

Easier said than done, Rosey. Bars have to cater to scenesters and hipsters in order to stay in business because, like it or not, they are the majority.

The best thing to do is to ignore the audience as much as possible and show your appreciation for the band. Such is not always possible, though, as some audience members try to upstage the band (such happened at the King Khan and BBQ show at the Pink Elephant, to the point where several people barely escaped injury).

Also, it's not so easy for most of us to get out on said weekday nights. Most of us don't have jobs where we can show up on little sleep or hung over. I teach high school. I can't go to weekday shows very often.

Lazy John said...

Sometimes that's easier said than done, Rosey. Scenesters/hipsters are the majority at the moment, and bars and clubs have to cater to them to stay in business. The best thing to do is ignore the audience when you can and show appreciation for the artists, but that's not always possible - sometimes, audience members try to upstage the bands, as was the case at the King Khan show at the Pink Elephant. Also, many of us have weekday jobs that don't allow us to go out on Tuesdays very often. I teach high school, and I can't show up to work exhausted or hung over.

Lazy John said...

Did I miss something, or isn't the guy from the Coyote Problem doing exactly what you advocate? Shouldn't he be praised for that instead of bashed?

Lazy John said...

Sorry - I forgot this on my last post. It all boils down to the following - a band is either good or it isn't. Such should be the only criterion for going to see a band, ideally.

Rosemary Bystrak said...

I completely appreciate The Coyote Problem, and I was not bashing Peter or the band at all. Also, I don't have a problem with people who don't or can't make it out to shows, but I do have a problem with people who don't go out at all but still feel like they have some say or some significant opinion about 'the scene'. It's ok if you can't go out, but don't blanket your opinions about local music based on something you witnessed 10 years ago. I constantly experience a supportive local scene between the most unlikely of bands, and my only point is that while there might be people playing music for the wrong reasons, for the greater part of San Diego, there are a lot of bands playing music who have no greater aspirations than just being what they are.

Lazy John said...

I hear ya - it's like saying the Chargers suck when you haven't watched game since 1997.

Lazy John said...

And sorry to post the same comment three times. I had a hard time figuring out my wife's computer.