September 19, 2004

Stage Presence

by Adam Stanley of The Drafted:

"Allow me to pose you a question: What do you expect to see when you go to a rock show?
I think I know your answer.  Jumpin' spinnin' guitarists right?
Today I overheard a conversation that briefly discussed the winner of the Harbour's Battle of the Bands, Carmeci. Carmeci was,"All over the stage", said converser number 1. Yeah? SO WHAT?! "What did the MUSIC sound like?" is what I want to know! I didn't hear anyone talk about how awesome Carmeci was, but if they're "All over the stage", then I guess it doesn't matter what they sound like!

Do you see the point I'm trying to make?
Look at the Ramones.
They had the craziest crouds of any band ever. Did they(Ramones) spin around and run and all this other flashy crap that everyone's impressed by? NO! Did they're crowd still enjoy it? GOD YES!
Here's another example: WEEZER.
Rivers Cuomo  never moves AT ALL while he's playing on stage. Neither do the rest of them. Virtually NO MOVEMENT WHATSOEVER ONSTAGE. Now look at the crowd. EVERYONE IS HAVING THE BEST TIME OF THEY'RE ENTIRE LIVES!
You do not need ANY stage presence onstage to have a fun show. If you appreciate music at all you know that. So why were the bands who competed at the Battle graded for stage presence? Because if all they judged was originality- you know, the only thing that really matters- that stupid punk band would have won, whats they're name? "I can't remember 'cause they didn't dazzle me with they're dances!" says THE WHOLE WORLD!
We [The Drafted] would have won."

I don't totally agree that they would have won, but I AM sick and tired of people being so impressed by bands that jump around and stuff while sounding like crap. When did the music die?

1 comment:

Ron said...

You're hitting on a very old artistic problem here.

Recently, I heard jazz sax player Branford Marsalis being interviewed on NPR. At one point he was talking about a particular gig he did with the funk band he played with in high school, a similar battle of the bands thing. Apparently they were blown off the stage by another group that couldn't play nearly as well as his. "They just hit a simple groove, and the audience went wild." What this other band had was better showmanship; they didn't really try to go beyond what they knew how to do, and they really worked the audience. Instead of being confused or bitter, Marsalis said that he learned a valuable lesson: the audience doesn't really care about the same things that musicians care about; they just want to have a good time.

Like it or not, this is a reality that all artists must face. People don't really care how it's done, don't really focus on particular aspects of a given work of art. They're into receiving a total package; they're into being entertained. The greatest poem, painting, play, song, dance is utterly irrelevant if is only able to appeal to a very small niche audience.

You have to ask yourself what you're trying to do. If you're playing for yourself and only yourself, then it doesn't matter that this other groovy band beat you. But if you're trying to affect people's lives, you need to find new and innovative ways to reach out to them. This doesn't mean pandering: the Beatles did it, and so has Elvis Costello. In fact, even though they didn't jump around, the Ramones had intense stage presence as well. Their leather jackets and sunglasses, their quiet determined playing poses were just as show-oriented in their own way as David Lee Roth's karate kicks or Pete Townshend's windmills.

Even Jim Morrison eventually came around.

Really it's all about invoking God on stage, any way you can, as long as it's YOUR way. I'm sure you guys are up to the task.

Viva la revolucion!