by Frank Sardella
In an electronic age, the almighty playlist has its appeal. After all, when many of us were kids, we would have marveled at the ability to have a couple of thousand songs at our fingertips. But something crucial is missing from this modern-day “entertainment” and we strive to bring it back!
Let’s clarify. We are not fighters of a new age or of modern technology. Any of us would be the first to admit we have not only come to rely on it, we actually enjoy making use of it.
Consider YouTube for a moment. Imagine 20 years ago, if someone handed you a small device with the ability to look something up that you saw in a movie or on TV that you wanted to reference or watch that you could even share with others instantly. It would have been amazing. And it is. For we have that within our grasp now.
So we’re not talking about detesting something we have all come to accept, and even love. What we’re actually talking about here is a regret, in light of all of the benefits, that there had to be a downside to this tech, one of decline in public interest in live entertainment, and a dwindling patronage therof. Artists have become farther removed from their audiences, and it is this point which we strive to change, making our work more than just “learning covers” and being just another bar band.
Now I don’t want to go all “video killed the radio star” on you but, in point of fact, I would like to recount a story about a time when we would have found our present-day technology remarkable!
In the late 90’s (which is extremely recent when you consider it), I visited The Museum of Television and Radio in New York City with my family. The most fascinating part of that facility, and the focal point of it at the time which has fast become obsolete, was the library. I remember being mesmerized, sitting in front of a computer terminal and paging through their endless collection of everything from variety shows to sitcoms and all in between. Name a show in history and they pretty much had it in their database.
I was able to pick 4 selections to watch at one of their numerous viewing stations and given 2 hours to do so. I picked many of my historical favorites and was excited at the prospect of checking them out. I remember looking around the room and seeing people viewing episodes of “Seinfeld” and “Three’s Company” and I thought, “how amazing is this?” But in light of today’s tech, only a few years later, my museum visit has faded significantly in memory.
What can be learned from this story is not something I can tell you. It’s what you feel inside when you read it. Weren’t you thinking, “ah man, I can do that on YouTube anytime I want and within seconds” as I described the viewing room experience at the museum? Of course you did. Who wouldn’t?
So, what does this have to do with the decline of live interaction between artist and audience?
People marveled at technology back when music was scarce. You had to go to a record store to by music. You went out to get it. Live music was no different. Now the music seems rather “matter-of-fact” because it’s everywhere and accessible from anywhere, especially your couch….
The couch has become, to the five of us anyway, a symbolic representation of all things on-demand and, we realize that we all, to a degree, have become stuck to it and in it. It is synonymous with being on the fringe of music without participating in it, and so its value has declined.
What I fondly call the “couch-ectomy” is what we believe will bring balance back to music, returning something that has been unjustly taken away, resulting in the so-called “entertainment” being fed to us every day: the return, not just of live music, but of putting on shows that entertain in the fullest sense of the word.
We firmly believe music is still worth going out to get, because there is still one element you cannot get otherwise or anywhere else…
In effect, our mix of music decades in our setlist is much more than a playlist. It is also a combination of eras – a mix of the technological of today with an element of the “rare” and meaningful experiences of decades past, when you had to go out and get it!
That is what we bring to the stage at the shows. Every song we pick, every transition we work out, medley we plan, even every argument we have over material (and believe me, behind the scenes we do conflict here and there) it is not for anything but the show we are giving you – the reason for you to get off the couch and come to the club. It’s a strange procedure we go through behind the scenes but that’s what keeps us going.
The person we think the most about in all of our activities is you, in the end. It’s actually what keeps us together as a band. Without it, we probably wouldn’t be doing it. The five of us would just sit around and listen to our iPods, each of us only listening to what we like individually.
The future of technology will only be a continued evolution of what we see now. Our job is not only to make sure the artist is not even further removed from the audience, but to bring audiences closer to add a new level of experience. And this is a challenge. It is also fun, admittedly. Even the rougher times doing it prove worth it. But it is not just for us. Just because we have fun doing it, doesn’t make it any less meaningful. And, to us, it means everything.
This is all merely editorial and will only become fact if you look for yourself. And for that, I’m afraid, you’ll have to come to a show to decide for yourself. I challenge you to come to a show and believe otherwise.