If live music is dying, by logic, all that’s left is dead! How to revive it?
No, don’t throw out your iPhone, cancel your Spotify or quit watching YouTube. If you do, you will have missed the point altogether. For, this isn’t a ban of “canned” music, a warning against recordings nor is it a mock threat to the boxed set. It is more of a safeguard to the extinction of a very endangered species: live music. As technology advances faster than even the human eye can observe, attention is being diverted inward, into devices, into headphones and out of the live venue. Whereas, yes, these devices could be said to be keeping music itself very alive, at least 5 things could be said about the “phasing out” of live music. Here are 5 shameless plugs to put the device down and go out and catch a live show.
If live music is ‘live’ then, what is everything else? Dead?
No, this isn’t a lesson in semantics, though it could be so accused. There is a bit of irony, however, in that there is a word for experiencing music in real time, yet not much really to describe recorded versions. Mind you, this is not to give the DJ a bad name. DJ’s do bring groups of people together and they definitely entertain in real time. They play an important role too.
But, what of the magic of seeing a real band perform real songs in real time? There is a “life” to it that is not seen anywhere else. Live music has an energy to it that transpires between artist and audience which, simply, cannot be replicated. Witness any live show you have ever seen and how it made you feel. Can you remember the best live performance you have ever seen? That experience will give you better understanding than any of these words.
Live music is the difference between past and present
You want to experience time travel? Well, you technically do every time you play your favorite song on the way to work. Recordings are in the past. Live performances are NOW!
Is there anything wrong with the “past” by this definition? No. Witness, before digital, the wear and tear on your favorite cassette tape of ACDC’s Back In Black album. We need that music to fill in the cracks and keep us motivated – but certainly not permanently. Recordings are meant to keep the music alive IN BETWEEN LIVE PERFORMANCES. For, those are the experiences that get us to transcend to higher planes of musical enjoyment. The synergy between crowd and performer, the electricity of simultaneous enjoyment of the music by the many, not just the one; these are the moments music was meant to create: a performance, which is what defines entertainment.
Recordings of live music performances don’t count… okay, maybe a little
While they are still recordings, I will give you that listening to or watching a live concert performance recording does yet retain some of that intensity of energy. Certainly you have experienced some of the original emotions experienced by those in actual real-time attendance. I am reminded of a recent concert I watched on cable. P!nk’s most recent tour video nearly brought me to tears with some of her performances. The energy and the admiration from her audience were all part of the experience. Mind you, this still doesn’t replace actually having been there (despite what ancient Memorex commercials would have you believe!), however, it does remind you that you need to get out and see a show. Personally, before I went to see about getting the recording of the concert, I went and checked P!nk’s tour schedule online. I wanted to see a live show! Some things have to be experienced in person, especially music!
Can you put a price on live music? Yes but, to a point…
One of the factors that has been a recent killer of live performance is the, often, astronomical pricing of concert tickets. Think of how many albums you could buy for the price of just one concert ticket to a premium show. This isn’t to say they aren’t worth it or devalue musicians in any way. There is a value far beyond money. It’s just to say that even I understand how cost can sometimes interfere. Being on a tight budget can deny many indulgences. But do you remember a time when you pulled out all the stops to see someone you ABSOLUTELY had to see and didn’t care about the cost? My first experience to see my favorite band included a 5-way split of a limousine, tickets and an entire night out. Was it worth it? Every last red cent! But it doesn’t have to be pricey. Just having a night out with others who enjoy music to see a rockin’ local band or show can make all the difference in your demeanor and your life.
Virtual vs human interaction…
Though we all know it inherently, it can difficult to resist the lure of the virtual. Virtual reality and sims may seem cool but, think of what they are looking to replace. They keep playing Samsung commercials for these virtual reality goggles. I tried them in a demo in the mall and was astounded at the technology but humored simultaneously. I kept thinking, “I am marveling at this outdoor scene when the actual is probably way more aesthetic!” I laughed but felt a little disappointed. This was a reminder of what the virtual is doing to live music: it’s killing it in many ways.
Takeaways? Don’t kill the “dead” music… just go see more live shows!
Be entertained, yes. But, enjoy what’s missing from recordings: the extreme magic and energy that comes from a live performance and a group appreciation of it. Live music is alive and it is in the present. Recordings of live shows can help but are still not quite the optimum level of live, are they? Live music is priceless in many ways and it is a way to have real, live, irreplaceable human interaction. And that makes it quite an experience.
Ask any performing musicians about this and you will find out they hold this as a deep-seated belief. Ask yourself and you may be surprised to find the same answer.
Catch the next First Round Band, 4-Decades Rock Show and see for yourself. This is why we do what we do. The thrill never dies. It just gets stronger. Experience it and you will see what we mean. See you at the next show for 70 songs that will prove it to you definitively. It’s showtime, baby!