Monday, January 28, 2008

Massive guitars and gargantuan monsters

Well, this past weekend had it all. Live jazz, live guitar bands, filet mignon, NYC destroying monsters, diners, breasts, Omar jumping off a 4-story balcony (lol spoiler), and the always confusing FA cup.

There were two things that stood out, however:

1.) Not seeing Six Organs of Admittance at the Khyber this Saturday:

I went to the Khyber this Saturday to see freak folk maestro Six Organs of Admittance. I didn't see him. The last opening act was some guy and an acoustic guitar, playing in the exact same tunings and singing in the same voice as Six Organs of Admittance, so I assumed it was him and left, underwhelmed.

Not seeing Six Organs of Admittance wasn't the only highlight of the night, however. Indeed, the first two opening acts more than made up for it:

1. The first band, Creeping Weeds, committed the same exact indie rock crimes that I outlined after I saw Audible . Just substitute the female bass player with a female guitarist, which is even worse, because you can easily hide a superfluous guitar in the mix. I don't just pull these theories out of thin air, people.

Let's put gender aside for a second, though, and get to this point: I can tell the difference between a musician and a marketing ploy.

2. The second band, the horribly named Intergalactic Incense Burners, were damned impressive. They had this crazy guitarist who was looked like a 45-year old homeless biker. He did some taboo things with his guitar, like improvise, play squalling riffs in the high register, Use all sorts of fx pedals, and generally carry the ebb and flow of each song. Granted, the rhythm section was tight, but I've never heard individual guitar playing like that in a long time

That type of playing got me to thinking: While me and my friend were watching, mouths agape, at this display, I wondered if the crowd were impressed, or rather, were they thinking "what a wanker! Doesn't he know that solos killed JFK"? The funny thing is, the early indie bands had plenty of solos/improvisation: Husker Du, The Minutemen, Galaxy 500 etc. Even in the 90s, Malkmus was known to let loose, and all the brit bands (Blur, The Verve, Suede) featured pretty distinctive guitar players.

Today is a different story, however: When is the last time you left a mainstream indie concert saying "wow! such and such band member was incredible"? I know that songs are more important, but does every band have to sound like its musicians graduated from some basic competency factory? I'd rather the musicians all be shiite and create something through pure novice experimentation than accept this numbing "serve the 3 and a half minute pop song" route that all the guitar bands are taking.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have sit around and wait until my opinion becomes fashionable again, because it's sure as hell not right now. And yes; I'm projecting based on my own style of guitar playing.

Tomorrow: The Tweener takes on Cloverfield.

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