I Can’t Hear Myself Think

I don’t know if that’s physically possible, but I’m feeling it right now.

My ears are ringing out of sheer shock. I have not heard a band play louder. (But then again, it may be argued that I haven’t had a chance to see Muse live. Yet.)

So every once in a while, miracles do happen.

(A little recap for context) After coming to know at 3:30 PM that British grunge/alt-rockers Wolf Alice were in town and playing a gig in the city at 7 PM, I had a long two-hour theatric on why I should be going.

It touched upon everything, a very versatile and diverse argument, I must admit.

I’m the science student, I’m paling because I’m in here studying, (absolutely irrelevant to a night gig– unless we’re talking about “darkening” due to pollution), how with me soon to be a full-time computer science student, I may just die before I get a whiff of life (… I don’t know if this is true, but I do not want it to be. Can anyone vouch for that?) how we’re not risk takers and are just not game for life, and why does it matter that we’re booking a few hours, and not a few days, before the gig?

Mum was particularly concerned about leaving my sister to study on her own for a few hours (and being unable to reach her because her phone’d Ben in aeroplane mode).

Anyway, I won’t bore you with gory details (according to my English teacher, I’m guilty of that often… to be fair, it was a chapter involving murder. But to get to the point now.)

Somehow, things worked out, and I have now bright prospects of a career in acting.

I went for the Wolf Alice gig.

Mum wouldn’t let me go by myself, but she did end up tagging along. She ended up spending her time taking a good long hour’s walk around pavements!

As for me, I was in.

Wolf Alice came on at 7:30, their set lasted nearly jour and was a good mix of new old stuff, though leaning on the side of songs off their latest album released on 29 September 2017, Visions Of A Life.

D280B30B-8346-4E1F-A43E-717704BC3D3D.jpeg
Early on. (I’ll admit, phone photography isn’t the best, but is that the point of a live gig?)

The band was in the city for an Amnesty International awareness event, on violence against women online.

There seems to be some sort of trend, bands touring here for a cause (remember Coldplay and the Global Citizen fest, anyone?)

But anyway, it wasn’t amazing to see that they have a pretty neat following here! I could estimate around five hundred people, maybe more.

They have so much energy, they rock out like crazy. Second best new(ish) band I’ve seen! (After Royal Blood, of course. Seeing them live would be super cool, though!)

B0F62429-4B11-444F-B865-C06B8C7812D1.jpeg

Ellie Rowsell was tireless as the band kept belting out track after track, with just the occasional pause to interact with the crowd. Speaking of engagement, bassist Theo Ellis was incredible: the guy didn’t have a dead bone in his body!

Jumping around, inciting the crowd, grooving as he played his bass, he was in his own element.

There was only a slight hitch in the middle when guitarist Joff Odie’s guitar temporarily went dead as he helplessly tried to shake some sound out of it and ended up swinging it around for the rest of the song, annoyed, till he could make a swap for the next song. (My best bet for why he didn’t doc that before is preset sounds and settings.)

Personally, there was only one thing I wish was better, apart from which the band was perfect: they rock hard, take that from me. They’ve blown my ears out. Every hair on my arms was reverberating with the loud music, it was almost a wonder to me that the band was so comfortable, the speakers being right behind them. They were owning it.

D9197C7E-A42E-4B8B-9084-FE80AA95DE34.jpeg

One of my personal favourite of this band’s gimmicks is towards the end of You’re A Germ, when Ellie’s vocals descend onto a manic, deranged laughter. It’s beautiful, and it’s perfect where it is in the song. But live, the intensity was a bit lower, and the laughter sounded kinda mechanical.

No fault of Rowsell’s, I can’t  imagine recreating that manic laugh every gig, and that’s what studio recordings are for, right? You go for a live gig for the experience, the emotions, raw and unfiltered, not polished or perfected over four takes.

But you can hear the manic laugh, and the rest of the song for yourself and decide!

The gig lasted roughly an hour, and it was one of the best hours of the year for me!

807AD500-DA6C-4909-BCE3-07097896EFDA.jpeg

(Do I sound like a music journalist here?)

Man, after seeing these guys live, my will to be up there on stage doing just what they’re doing has gotten even stronger. It’s back to my beloved piece of wood an month’s time! I’ve got a lot to catch up on.

This band rocks out almost like bands did in the nineties! And that’s a good thing.

We like them ‘cause they’re pure
We like them ‘cause we know they’re cool

(My little play on You’re a Germ’s lyrics,
He likes her ‘cause she’s pure
She’s likes him ‘cause she’s heard he’s cool

Minus the creepy connotations.)

E7E3D69D-37A6-45CC-B441-462D9C355319.jpeg

Lessons learnt?

Don’t ever pass up the gig. And don’t ever underestimate the power of a good argument. And the good bands will eventually come to a city near you– with their dedicated group of globe-trotting fans! Sure saw a lot of those today.

I have quite a few video grabs from the gig, from songs I am ore familiar with. Trust me, I’m a fan, I love these guys, but i haven’t been listening too much this year— not to much of anything, in fact! Catching up to do.

I can’t upload them, however, WordPress on my current plan doesn’t let me. Oh well. What’s YouTube for, right?

E7E3D69D-37A6-45CC-B441-462D9C355319

(The videos were mostly for my sister, who did definitely pitch for me good; I don’t suppose mum would’ve agreed if she hadn’t been so thrown off by my sister’s support for my case, but I did mostly try to enjoy the  live experience.)

So with this gig and thousand-word review, (was it really a review? Perhaps not) I’ve ticked two things off my bucket list!

Now it’s back to integrating. The next time I upload pictures, it’s may  of a two-page long sum.

Integration… I currently can’t really hear myself think, and perhaps that’s a good thing!

Until next time!

 

Here Comes The Stage

I had no idea until 3 PM.

Wolf Alice are in town. I’ve been at school till 3, I get home, blissfully unaware and then check the newspaper.

Band I really like is playing in town. According to the paper, the festival begins at 3. I check the time: 3:30 (it’s now 4:30).

Crap.

I have to get to town.

I have my tests coming in a month.

Bands never come to town. Or anywhere within a 1000-mile radius. I’m a hypocrite to complain, because I just went for a blues festival half a week ago, but there’s a difference when a band you like is coming to your OWN CITY. You covet the gig. You have to go.

I have to go.

I have to go.

Mum won’t take me. Mum won’t let me go.

She doesn’t have a point here, I won’t concede.

I talked to a friend, I talked to dad, he said find a buddy.

We have exams in a month.

I call a buddy.

Buddy stays close by.

Buddy’s a partner-in-crime. (Hi, buddy!)

Buddy’s helping me sort out my appeal.

Of course, it’s hard to convince your parents to let you go for a gig because your friend stays close by. Especially when their real problem is that I’m going sort of close to my exams. I won’t concede a point there, it’s invalid and I’m perfectly capable of making up that time studying till 3. I do it every day.

Point is, Wolf Alice are in town , and I have to go.

What are the magic words?? Wish I knew what I could really say, it’s true I live far away, and the Catch-22 situation is that neither will they then let me off on my own (not from 7 to 9 in the night, anyway), nor can I convince mum to drag herself along.

I know it’s short notice, but who said life needed to be planned? (Amn’t I living walking proof of that? Even the fact that I blog wasn’t planned…)

But that’s besides the point right now. I’d love some of that leeway right now…

Wolf Alice come on at 7. I need to get to the gig before that. I need to leave by 6. It’s 4:45.

I need something convincing. I need magic words, heck, I may need some drama (thank you buddy).

Advice would be great, least ways, here comes theatre.

The stage is calling me. (In more than one way).

Is Rock Music Really Dead?

A very common misgiving I hear around me is “There’s no good music around anymore.”

There are people out there who are so dissatisfied with the music scene, if there is any, as they’d tell you, that they have given up all hope for the future and try to satisfy themselves by burying their heads in heaps of better records, from 40 years ago, to block out the noise. (Case in point: rock music.)

Now, I have seen some pretty sick indicators, including a T-shirt on someone that said, “Rock isn’t dead, it just went ‘pop’.” (Which is pretty sick). But that doesn’t mean it’s wiped out like the dinosaurs. It endures. Like the microorganisms that quietly, in their own corners survived, and are still here, while the larger monsters died out in a headline-worthy tale, rock music has, and will, endure.

Ask any hardened listener, and they’ll affirm that giving up the resistance and joining the stream is not an option. Not with the kind of music that’s blasted out commercially, that’s almost a punishment for not being deaf. (Or having a mind for that matter. A study done a few years ago found that popular music is just getting dumber. About 2 minutes of a four minute long song was just ‘filler words’, the ‘aaa’s and ‘ooo’s and ‘oi’s and ‘baby’s and ‘yeah, yeah, oooo,… you add on. It’s a legitimate study that I’m not making up, I’ll just have to dig it up from my stash of newspaper cutouts.)

The only real solutions to our “problem” are, either to pick up a guitar, start making the music you want to hear, and stop whining, once and for all, or to support the artists that are trying to.

Most people will agree, the good music is NOT in the mainstream. It’s underground, but we’ve stopped looking. I don’t know, typical human fatalist nature. (Which, before you get me wrong, is no reason to become complacent on climate issues. Summers are touching 45 degrees celsius here, and I’m talking about March temperatures.)

I, for one, am brushing up my skills, and hoping to provide some relief to the many “tortured” souls who’ve been forced to listen to, well, real bad music, for the sake of decency of language, in every mall or eatery they’ve been to in their life. (Except it will still be a long time before McDonald’s is going to be blasting Black Sabbath to accompany ice cream cokes.)

I am also trying not to make it look like there’s nothing to look forward to anymore, and the rainbow-coloured bubblegum pop is really blacker than death metal because it ate away at our Rock’s very essence, or whatever many may make it out to be. There is still decent music out there. I almost believe again.

Most forms of rock, particularly derivatives of alt rock do have something interesting to offer, each with their own new ’10’s-sound. I know of bands making some downright listenable noise in hard rock, grunge, funk rock, blues, garage rock. (I will admit that I can’t talk as optimistically for classic rock. It seems the elaborate, once-standard form of making a rock song has been hit by a punk movement of a new kind: time crunch. But I will keep looking, everyday could bring a new opportunity?)

One thing the disillusioned mentioned is indisputable: whatever and wherever this good new music is, it’s not on the radios. It’s not on the music channels. (To be honest, music itself isn’t, these days.) It’s not on the mainstream airwaves. And before we make the familiar dreaded connection between the terms ‘mainstream’ and ‘sell-out’, let’s make it clear: anything that’s good should get circulated, heard. That’s what it used to be during Alan Freed’s time. And for our argument here, let’s keep it that way.

A few people are listening in on a YouTube or a SoundCloud. You pass by a park with decent noise. A pal tells you, the cynical rock-fatalist, that’s there’s something out there you might like. But fearing a bad dose to the ear, you won’t listen to it, because nothing’s good anymore, or you hear it, feel it’s decent, but can get better, but you really can’t be bothered to follow up with it.

Remaining non-committal to the scene can be as big a killer as promoting the pop bubblegum noise. (Here you nod: “Now we know where you stand.”) I get that time and exhaustion are bigger factors than they ever were before, but a new artist might need it.

Obviously the reason why a Justin Beiber has 10 billion views on YouTube is not because he’s good. It’s because he has dedicated fans out there ready to stand behind his every song (*gags*… Sorry.), to support him and spread the word. Maybe that’s one thing we can learn from the kids. (And I never said that last part.)

Many of these artists still have day jobs to support themselves. And there’s only a point till where artists can support themselves and each other. Their fans are their biggest assets, in the end. (I would just want to add, perhaps not more than a cracker riff, but even there, it’s those listening who need to appreciate it.) Those who once helped the stars of the decades gone by need to remember how they did it: they bought the records, they followed them live, supported them in every way they could. And maybe we need to stop holding every new artist before the light of a great established band. They are ‘established’ for a reason. What makes Led Zeppelin so unique and legendary is that there was no one like them, and there won’t be either. Maybe we should make peace with that fact. Accept and support artists based on their potential, and they’ll grow to make you proud. They’ll grow and the rock scene will awaken again. A mismatch of attitudes and intentions is all that’s keeping it stuck in a rut so far, and both sides mean well. One thing we can do, as people did in the past, is to get out there, and go join the scene. See an artist for yourself. Support them, like the old times. And you’ll find yourself being carried back, carried back, carried back, to the scene where you come from. And you’ll find yourself saying, man, it’s been a long time since I rock and rolled. And is it good to be back.