Diatribe Of The Day: Atlanta’s Spectacle Arms Race

If you read this blog regularly, you know that for the most part we keep things very positive and tend to only cover stuff we like. When I do my show listings for the week, I only try to suggest shows that I genuinely would like to attend.I don’t have much interest in spending my time on music I don’t enjoy and there are plenty of other sites on the web that take pleasure in pitchforking folks. But as much as I prefer to be the cheerleader, especially for the Atlanta scene, I think it is important to sometimes contrast the good with the bad, and point out the things I don’t like. I think dissent has value, so pardon me for the haterade I’ve been drinking.

In my Corndogorama coverage, I took a jab at Judi Chicago, and they totally noticed it (OMFG, Judi Chicago reads this blog!!!) and responded with this comment:

I would like to personally invite you to one of our shows with Noot D’ Noot this Summer.
I think if you were to loosen up a little and get over the fact that we dance around in very little clothing sometimes, you might (like a lot of other people at our shows) have a considerable (or at least a small) amount of fun.
We’ve introduced a variety of live instruments into our set, including guitars, saxophones, percussion, synths, tromobones and a range of gadgetry that we’ve constructed or modified ourselves.
One major reason for us doing this is so that people like yourself who think that we suck because (in their eyes) all we do is press play and flap around in our undies yelling ‘look at me, I’m funny/weird/special’ can open up a little bit and HAVE FUN, safe in the knowledge that they are seeing a more traditional, legitimate live music performance.
Maybe you just think that we suck. That’s fine. I don’t really share your taste in music: you obviously don’t like a lot of the stuff that influences us. But I’d hate for you to leave buildings just to avoid us. We try to present a party that everyone in town can get into, and we’re developing all the time. Plus the other bands are fantastic, so you can always check them out.
So if you fancy giving it a go, email me your name and I’ll put you on the guestlist for the next worming the starhole show you can make it to at Lenny’s.

All the best!
P.G. (Judi Chicago)

So I decided to take the Pepsi challenge and go to their last “Worming The Starhole” show at Lenny’s back in August. The first act I saw was some electronic act that was dressed up like a science teacher. It wasn’t really my thing. Next up, I finally caught Noot D’ Noot live. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed their show, but they were very much the sort of music that I would go see again live, but probably not ever want to listen to on record. They struck me as more a jamband than an underground indie dance outfit. It was basically a shred fest between the saxophonist and the keyboardist with a bunch of auxiliary musicians rounding out the sound. I think this band would kill it at Bonnaroo and other hippie affiliated events.

Finally it was time to see Judi Chicago, and unfortunately, it was just as I had remembered it. Yes, this time they were utilizing a guitar, and he could play it pretty well, but that isn’t really the issue with me. I have no problem with bands utilizing non-traditional instrumentation, in fact I’m all for it. See, it is not that this act is too weird or experimental for me, it’s quite the opposite. The electronic music itself is a rather conservative and derivative sort I was listening to at raves and not enjoying 10 years ago. The talk-yell-rap singing only makes the music that much less enjoyable, and while the lyrics are a bit quirky, they aren’t actually that interesting. For me, things start and stop with the music, and if it is making me cringe, what you’re doing on stage doesn’t matter.

Now, I don’t really mean to point out Judi Chicago like they are the only ones that appear to spend too much time on their stage act at the detriment of their music. In an increasingly saturated music scene, bands and artists are looking for ways to standout from the crowd, and unfortunately more often than not, bands look to make their image standout out rather than their music. I mean, at least Judi Chicago are doing something a bit different. The droves of bands playing lackluster garage rock and pretending they are the Black Lips is far more annoying to me. Look, I like the Black Lips a lot, but this city doesn’t need 50 wannabe fakesters.

Now, I totally understand why artists choose to go this route. In Atlanta especially, it seems like bands who create a huge spectacle live get rewarded. The respective triumphant rises of the Black Lips and Deerhunter and their international popularity certainly owe a lot their to their crazy on stage personas, but the difference is those bands had great music to back it up. I have no problem with having an entertaining live show, I actually prefer it, but when it feels like you spent more time picking out your outfit than writing the songs, you’re wasting my time. I mean, I love going to see The Flaming Lips or Roger Waters and their big productions, but wearing an irrelevant costume and jumping around like an asshole isn’t exactly the same thing.

Also, I understand that many people just want “fun” music and want to go out, get blotto, and could care less about the artistic quality of what they experience. But, that’s not what this blog is about. I mean, every single other music journalist I can think of in this state that talks about Judi Chicago lumps praise after praise upon them, while there are so many ridiculously talented acts in this city that go unnoticed because they are more concerned about expressing their vision than yelling and screaming for attention. I’m sure Judi Chicago are cool dudes who work hard at their craft, and I seriously doubt one douchebag blogger’s opinion is going to hurt their feelings much, but I have to champion the artists in this city who choose to pursue expressing their personal vision over catering to the lowest common denominator and trying to please everyone. If your primary criteria for liking a band is how energetic and fun their live show is and how well they would do in a Halloween costume contest, this probably isn’t the blog for you. I am going to continue rewarding the people who have the courage to challenge their audience, and make hard, artistic decisions that aren’t always about increasing their popularity.

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3 Responses to “Diatribe Of The Day: Atlanta’s Spectacle Arms Race”
  1. dlab Says: October 16th, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Dan agrees – it’s not the haterade – they’re just nothing special and nothing new. If I want to see a good stage show, there are plenty of bands that do it better, and I can certainly listen to much better music if I ever want to hear that sort of thing.

  2. KX-d. Says: October 16th, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    nicely put, davy! best thing i’ve read all day.

  3. Kid Pyramid Says: October 23rd, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Thanks for checking out the show! You should have introduced yourself, I’d have bought you a drink.

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