Dec 112014

My close, personal friend Townsman Andyr and I were talking yesterday about what makes a satisfying show for our band, from our perspective (the hell with the audience!). Beside decent sound on stage, an engaged audience (oh, you know we love you!), a sectioned-off band room and moderately clean bathroom, and no more than a reasonable amount of mistakes, we agreed on the following under-acknowledged elements of a satisfying show—for our band, not every artist:

  • Songs are performed faster than they are on record
  • There’s a minimum of time between songs
  • Any song breaking the 3-minute mark is justified by a solo
  • We’re breaking a serious sweat

This led to comparisons between our approach to playing live and the visionary football strategies of Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly. We both like to work fast, get the plays in at the line of scrimmage, etc. Unlike Kelly, we’ve yet to develop visionary approaches to health and nutrition, what we will call “rock science” when we get around to developing these things. We’re not bothered by bills requiring us to play short sets. We’re not about “time of possession.” We can get in more “plays,” or songs, than most bands can in a 4o-minute set, with the soundman breathing down our backs. When we’re running on all cylinders, we could put our 40-minute set against one of Bruce Springsteen‘s 4-hour sets and give Him and His band a run for its money. Yeah, Andyr and I were talking some serious shit!

Then we talked about a certain segment of the local music scene that will never be turned onto what we do, not necessarily because they don’t like our music or us (either or both of which could surely be the case), but because we’re…”too macho” is not quite the right term for what we are, because if you know us we’re really not macho. That’s where the discussion took a turn into levels of shit so deep you may want to put on a protective suit before wading any further.


  10 Responses to “Proto-Macho”

  1. I think I get where you are coming from — I have to laugh a bit because my wife likes “proto-macho” shows — where she knows there will be some rock happening.

    When some old friends play DC — Marshall Crenshaw, Justin Currie from Del Amitri, Marti Jones & Don Dixon, John Wesley Harding, Lloyd Cole, Steve Earle, Amy Rigby, Mike Scott from Waterboys, — her first question is — is there a BAND? She’s not that into solo acoustic and she generally cringes through the (usually local) solo guitar guy or gal openers for those types of smaller shows.

    She’s not totally against folkie singer-songwriters, but she can only take so much. I also took her to a Steve Winwood show where he did big chunks of “About Time” which has a few of six-plus minute jammy numbers. Super long jams are another non-starter with her. She wants “Gimmie Some Lovin'”

    BTW — I gather from the You Tube comments on the Clash video that the dancer is Pearl Harbor?

  2. Ah, that may be the dancer! I meant to look into that. Your wife sounds like a great woman!

  3. BigSteve

    I generally hate it when bands speed up songs in live performance. The Stones are the worst at this.

  4. Is there a worse live album than “Love You Live”?

  5. Dylan Live at Budakan?

  6. misterioso

    Still Life? But at least it has the benefit of only being a single lp. So, maybe not.

  7. misterioso

    A bad record, to be sure, but it at least has some startling novelty value. (“Mr. Tambourine Man” with a flute? Rock arrangement of “It’s Alright, Ma”? Sure, let’s go for it!) Love You Live has, as far as I can determine, precisely nothing in its favor.

  8. I agree with misterioso on the odd value if that Dylan album. How about the reggae version of “Shelter From the Storm,” complete with “Hurricane”-style violin, if memory serves.

  9. BigSteve

    The El Mocambo side of Love You Live is pretty cool, especially that version of Crackin’ Up.

  10. 2000 Man

    Love You Live is alright. I’ve certainly heard worse (some Peter Frampton album and then a live Eagles album come to mind immediately), and the El Mocambo side of Love You Live is terrific. Everything was too long on the 75/76 tours, but the recording is real good and it’s really pretty much how it went down. Still Life is a little worse but if you want a shitty live Stones album, that one Martin Scorsese did is really shitty.

    Otherwise, I like the Stones live. Especially 69, 72, 73 and 78.

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