I still can’t ever shake the feeling that

Posted on June 5, 2009

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live show performed by one dude with many instruments and looping pedals approximating a band: masturbation
live show performed by band: sex

It’s true, if you play by (with?) yourself you can ensure that everything happens exactly as you want it to, that all the parts are played as you had them in your head. Much like masturbation, it’s pretty foolproof. Also like masturbation, it’s a bit boring to watch. It’s safe and you know just how it’s all going to end. Even with full bands, this is no good. Going to see a band live and then finding they sound exactly like the record (I mean they sound like someone is playing the record through the PA and the band is rocking out in pantomime) is never what makes the show you remember.
Playing with a band, however imperfect they are, is great because they can’t play everything the way you had it in your head. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there’s much more potential for a total disaster when you bring other people into it. The rhythm and style can be all out of sync, someone can be taking too much control and not just letting things happen, or maybe someone just gets nervous when it’s time to perform. BUT, along with the potential for disaster there is the potential for transcendence, for some magical alignment of disparate elements. The great thing about a band is that they are other people with other ideas and other personalities, and they won’t understand everything about your music intuitively. They’ll have to guess and approximate what you tell them, altering it and filtering it through their natural style, and the energy generated by this difference, by this unexpectedness, will take everything to a level it can never reach in, well, let’s say “solo performance.”
The greatest things I have ever seen/participated in onstage (okay, this is not about sex anymore) have always involved either a near-disaster (someone gets lost, or makes a mistake, and then in the adrenaline response to that mistake, somehow everyone reacts together, in perfect alignment) or a completely spontaneous decision on stage (let’s play this song we don’t really know, let’s completely change this arrangement right now, this song feels so good let’s just keep playing it (okay, maybe it’s still about sex)).

In conclusion, everyone should have more sex and form more bands. down with looping pedals.

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