Friday, August 31, 2007

Spotlight: Chicago's The Ms

I love to talk about Midwestern bands that are trying to give some "balls" back to indie pop. At times the genre can fall prey to what I call the "Decemberists". It just ends up whiny and self-important.
That why I like to highlight bands that know what's up. Chicago's The Ms has a knack for crafting extremely well-written experimental pop rock gems, with complex arrangements AND squealing guitars. Check out their spot on cover of The Beatle's "Good Morning, Good Morning," the mini epic of "Trucker Speed" or the Macca-playing-the-blues on "Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out" - sort of like a modern "Why Don't we do it in the Road." You can even give a listen to the band performing "Plan of Man" live on Daytrotter. I think that's the single they play on Sirius Satellite Radio, if I'm not mistaken.
Here's a short interview with The Ms drummer Steve Versaw:
PWAH: What are some Midwest bands you think people should hear about?
Versaw: 1900's / Signing Choir/ Hot as Hell / Brooklyn Bridegrooms/ New Real People/ and many more...
PWAH: Tell me about your Daytrotter experience?
Versaw: Daytrotter ended up being a surprisingly good time. We were on tour with Deathray Davies, and both supposed to record that day. But, as usual, we were falling behind in travel time, and our soundcheck was approaching. DD ended up cancelling because of lateness and illness. But the guys over at the studio pleaded with us to come over.... "everything's set up. just bring your guitars.....please."
Please was the magic word.
So we went and they treated us great. And their studio is really well put together with tons of great gadgets and instruments. And everything sounded good and worked out. I'd love to go back.

PWAH: Are you guys all from the Midwest originally, and what do you think has influenced your music in a decidedly Midwestern way?
Versaw: 3/4 of M's are from the Midwest. 1/4 is from the mid-south. The Midwest is full of people who can shrug off discomfort. That has been a huge asset in the formation and continuation of this band.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Midpoint hoopla?

In the wake of the schedule release for Cincinnati's Midpoint Music Festival, a regional blog weighed in and wasn't too happy.
Cincinnati blog Each Not Secure wrote this article on the festival. Then more people read the article and began commenting about the festival on the message board.
The gist if their complaints are that Midpoint seems stuck on being focused on unsigned and regional bands. Others are upset that it seems the same bands play every year.
I guess my take on it is that, sure a lot of the same bands play every year. It's a regional festival. But when I saw the line up this year I thought it showed a pretty good grasp of including bands from all around the region. Many had never played Midpoint before. More so than I have seen in previous years. The only complaint I had was that too many good bands were playing at weird time slots, in different bars, at the same times. I won't be able to see them all now.
Maybe they have a point about Midpoint being taken away from the downtown area. But I'm not so sure I agree with slimming it down to include less bands on a couple stages at Sawyer Point - like Desdemona. If that happened Midpoint would more likely be reduced to any other national show that comes to town. You'd probably have Bad Veins, Wussy, Pearlene (the same bands invited to every other Cincinnati festival - for good reason, cause they're good) opening up for some low grade national indie band. Boring. It would take the soul out of the festival.
I don't know anyone who helps create the festival, I don't have friends on any panels. But I know that I have been to a lot of regional music festivals and hands down Midpoint is the best. It has always been the best managed event by far. Bands actually get paid and people sell their CDs. It has also been the best attended. Where else can you find +300 people crammed into a bar to check out a bunch of local bands? No other night than the three days of Midpoint.
I've been to the Midwest Music Summit and saw great bands playing to five people. The same could be said about NXNE, or even events in Boston or Nashville. There is something special going on with Midpoint. Should that be nurtured into including bigger bands on a national level? I guess. But the coolest thing about Midpoint has always been that it doesn't need them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Midwestern Round up!

Few high points for Midwestern bands this week. You may have noticed many new releases have graced us.
• Cincinnati's Cari Clara is set to hold it's first EP release "You Better Run" show tonight (8/31) at the Madison Theatre.
• Columbus, Ohio's Red Dahlia is busy working towards it's sophomore release, produced by Jeff Ciampa. The group has a decidedly 90s synth rock feel, with an amazing female singer.
• Athens, then Columbus Ohio band Black Coin is making the big leap to Los Angeles. The group has "coined" it's own version of indie rock reggae over the years. Very interesting take on the genre. It's probably a good idea for them to go somewhere that actually has a beach for that type of music. But Ohio loses another...
• Columbus, Ohio's Main Street Gospel currently has new tunes up for listening pleasure. The group - and it's 6'8" front man - will wow you with its guitar-based psychedelic blues.
• Another Columbus, OH. band Miranda Sound is reportedly back in the studio recording, correct me if I'm wrong, it's fourth CD. This time they are back with Jon Chinn at Workbook Studio.
• Indiana's Everything, Now! is apparently going to release one song a day from its second CD summer release "Ugly Magic" until their tour begins on Sept. 14.

Spotlight: Cleveland's Afternoon Naps
Releases new CD

When I finally broke through the wall that went up years ago around the Cleveland music scene, it led to a windfall discovery of great bands.
As the dust cleared, I was particularly amazed to find that not only are there a ton of great Cleveland bands, but their scene has a large indie pop vein running through the middle of it. I didn't see that coming - and I don't mean "vein" in a phallic way, you pervs.
Which leads me to the Afternoon Naps, a band I found out about via the Toledo Indie Pop Fest. They have a certain joy to their music and live show that is addictive. I recommend checking them out if they come through your town.
The band has a new 7-song CD out called "Sunbeamed" which is currently available for purchase. Soon you can get the CD via their Web sites, but for now you can simply send them a message through their Myspace page and buy one early for $8.
Or catch them at their two upcoming shows:

Sept. 22 - Beachland Ballroom - Afternoon Naps with Kiddo and Black Canary (1 p.m.)
Nov. 30 - Grog Shop - Afternoon Naps with Bears and Southeast Engine.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Spotlight: Everything Now!
gives you everything, now.

Muncie, Indiana's Everything, Now! and it's recent release "Bible Universe" will no doubtedly earned them continued praises for being the Midwest's premiere psychedelic folk visionaries. Very few bands can arrange a concept of sound that creates an entire self-realized world of music.
I'll do my best to describe their sound for the uninitiated, but I'd call Everything Now a nice combination of 1990s era Flaming Lips, with perhaps all the good songs from The Muppet Show. I mean that in the best way possible, because I love the songs from The Muppet Show. As I think about it, they share a similar ground floor as found in like-minded Country Joe and the Fish.
The arrangements on "Bible Universe" are exciting, interesting and new. Rock songs such as "Exile in Bible Universe" would be a perfect match for Dayton, Ohio's Captain of Industry. On more acoustic guitar based numbers, they never fall into the scary realm of simple folk or Americana. The reason is because the band seems to strive to make music beyond a normal scope of borders. When the organ comes in on "The World is Flat, This is the Edge" it's superb. In other tunes such as "The Myth of the Wizard Bird" the groups delves into areas Harry Nilsson touched on with the song "POV Waltz" on the great album "The Point!"
I also found out a neat secret. If you listen to "Assimilation (In the scheme of things)" and "Cursed Be" from their upcoming Ugly Magic, at the same time it sounds like one huge fucked up song that goes together. "Freedom Sex with Bible Woman" is a beautiful experimentation with Beatlesque melodies and grandiose passion.
Everything, Now! have succeeded in defining their own sound. They have also earned the award for "Creepiest Album Cover 2007."
Besides, no sooner was "Bible Universe" released then the band began putting up songs from its next release "Ugly Magic" expected to be out on Sept. 14.
Here's a brief interview with Jon "Crafty" of the band:
PWAH: With these two Cds coming out - Holy shit you guys have recorded a lot lately. (Not so much a question).
Crafty: Bible Universe was the result of a couple years worth of writing and recording songs, and Ugly Magic was sort of born out of the new ideas that started to show up while we were working Bible Universe. So it's kind of a new thing for us to release so much music in such a short amount of time, but releasing it all ourselves has made the process a lot easier. So hopefully we'll be able to keep up a similar pace.
PWAH: Could you explain the themes behind the two releases? Are they linked, or decidedly different approaches?
Crafty: Bible Universe is a parable, an illustration of the spiritual journey towards enlightenment and away from self-destruction. Ugly Magic is a sequel in the respect that it's a collection of songs about the further conflict that can result between the individual and the outside world even after the individual has ended internal conflict. The two albums are different in many ways, but I think their largest link is that they are both all about bearing witness to the troubles of mankind in the times we live in.
PWAH: How has your band's "sound" changed over the years? What are you hoping to create? You've done a nice job a creating your own world inside the songs.
Crafty: I'm not sure how to describe the changes in the sound, but I know that we've always been focused on communicating with the audience/listener. A lot of times, the music is about struggle and conflict, but we've also always carried a gospel impulse, urging people to come together and help each other continue. And although we usually just create music that we feel like we'd want to listen to, it'd be silly to pretend that we're not constantly trying to expand our audience with our sound. But I think our satisfaction with what we're creating always comes first, which could end up being a good or bad thing really... It's certainly not getting us any big money contracts.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Buddha Boy Update

This is kinda neat, he's finally hit the Wikipedia, this article tells his entire known history up until March 26 this year.
Which isn't that up to date, actually.

J*A*M*C news

As I've promised, this site is ONLY about Midwest indie rock - except when it comes to Jesus and Mary Chain reunion news and Buddha Boy. Maybe it's time for a Buddha Boy update too...

After reuniting earlier this year for its first shows in nearly a decade, the Jesus & Mary Chain is heading into the studio to make its first new album since 1998's "Munki." No release date or label affiliation has been announced for the project.

In addition, the group has confirmed five fall shows on the West Coast: Oct. 20 in Las Vegas, Oct. 22 in Anaheim, Calif., Oct. 23 in Los Angeles and Oct. 26-27 in San Francisco. Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando will open all dates, while Soulsavers, which features Mark Lanegan, are on the bill for the last three shows.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Somebody needs to introduce these two bands to one another. They could have been separated at birth. Alas they are separated by thousands of miles:


Los Angeles, CA. NO AGE

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Black Swans - new things ahead

Some news from CMJ about Columbus' The Black Swans upcoming plans:

The Black Swans Announce A 'Change!'
2007-08-10 11:37:15.420,
Story by: Kensey Potter
The Black Swans have announced a November 6 release date for their third full-length album, Change! (La Société Expéditionnaire). To fund the the completion of the album, which was recorded and mixed in two of the bandmembers' homes and mastered in Sony Studios by Rob LoVerde (Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan), dedicated frontman Jerry DeCicca completed a three-month stint as an afternoon strip-club DJ. In addition to the album info, the Swans have also confirmed a few upcoming shows in their hometown of Columbus, Ohio and in Brooklyn, New York. Hey DeCicca—we hear there's some strip clubs in Brooklyn too... you know, if you're in need of some extra cash.

Tracklist For Change!:
01. New Face
02. Hope Island
03. Coats
04. Only be With You
05. Shake
06. Purple Heart
07. Fruitless Ways
08. Blue Moon #9
09. 3 Broken Words
10. Slide on Down
11. Change
12. 3 Chord Song

Tour Dates For The Black Swans:
08/11 - Columbus, OH - Surly Girl
08/31 - Columbus, OH - Carabar
10/17 - Brooklyn, NY - Union Pool*
*La Société Expéditionnaire CMJ Showcase

Monday, August 20, 2007

Stage presence: The art of being ignored

Lately I've begun thinking about what makes for great stage presence. What makes for a great front man/woman.
In my years I've seen incredible bands clear a room, simply because they lack a certain something that draws people inside their worlds. They didn't deserve to be ignored. Their music was outstanding, but people left anyway.
So what is that "something" that denotes stage presence? That's the age-old question of rock n' roll. Elvis is dead. Bono, sadly, is the closest we have to John Lennon. And Lou Reed is too old.
In a way, this article relates to the one I did on scenesters. Sometimes musicians are innately interesting, simply for the fact that they know 90 percent of the people in their crowds. They went to school with them, were in a fraternity with them, dated half of them, or are related to them. There's not much difference between a house party or a gig for them.
That's too easy.
So I refuse to highlight a band that falls in that category. Perhaps the crowds only leave because the band isn't "in" with the scenesters? It's possible. That sure is lame. But life is also pretty unfair.
I asked a few bands in the region what they thought and The High Strung came through with the best answer. They pointed out the man who single-handedly embodies the great Midwestern frontman: Bob Pollard.
When you talk about stage presence, the man has it. Even when he's fall down drunk. He tells stories onstage, has fun, fucks around, windmills? Check. High kicks? Check. He creates a world people want to enter into because it looks so damn fun.
Better yet, Pollard created this world from the ground up. He was a teacher before he became well-known as the leader of Guided By Voices. As far as I know he wasn't best buddies with people on record labels. His band just made some tapes and scattered them into history. It was only up from there.
That is a real band. That is a real front man.
But there is also the fact that Pollard didn't really have to play guitar a lot of the time. In fact, a lot of the best front people have great stage presence because they aren't tied down by playing an instrument.
Anyone can run around and get the crowd going, if they don't have a guitar chord keeping them within a 10 foot radius.
I've also noticed the expanding trend of bands having up to 10 members onstage. I guess the idea is to have so many people in your band that it looks like a party. Too easy.
Then there are the bands that play dress up. Maybe they wear pirate masks or dress up like animals.
Again, that is way too easy.
So how does the lone person with a guitar, singing their heart out, stuck in one spot, get attention from anyone these days? It just doesn't seem to be enough to have a suberb voice or sing with emotion anymore.
I have no idea.
In fact, other than the Heartless Bastards, there are no other current Midwestern bands who have that ability.
Jeff Tweedy can do tons of solo acoustic shows and sell the place out, but he's already famous. Too easy.
I saw Wilco in Pittsburgh, before Tweedy became famous, and they played their asses off. But it's not like they had any stage presence.
I've noticed that 90 percent of bands that are on a national level, never even acknowledge the crowd.
Right now I'm trying to think of anyone playing music these days that really stands out as having great stage presence. I'm looking for a band that has something special that warrants the attention. I'm looking for some kind of purity of stage prescence, with no gimmicks attached.
Until I find one, I really wish people would stop clearing a room because the out of town band lacks "stage presence."
Just be honest and say you think the band sucks, or that you're not personally friends with any of the band's members.
But my guess is that the whole reason may come down to scenesterism and xenophobia again.
I'm starting to get disappointed in seeing this come up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Terribly Empty Pockets - moving away?

One of the more interesting of Columbus, Ohio bands I know of may be doing what most American liberals hoped to do after the 2004 elections: Move to Canada.
Terribly Empty Pockets took elements of twee indie pop arrangements (xylophones, acoustic guitar) and mixed them with the weirdness of Talking Heads (disjointed and oddly emotional vocals). Where it failed with many other bands trying the same thing, TEP made it work.
The group also has it's own boy genius in drummer Ryan Jewell. The past year has seen the drummer step out on his own by performing his noise/avant garde compositions with like-minded guitarist Larry Marotta.
But the Pockets and Jewell are planning on doing some shows before they leave.
Apparently, four out of five members are fleeing Ohio for Hamilton, Ontaio within the next month. One will be attending grad school and will be moving within the next week.
Jewell will first be touring Europe performing avant-garde percussion gigs and will be leaving Columbus when he returns. That makes me sad.
Two others will remain in Ohio while they attain jobs in Canada and get work visas.
One pocket is staying in Columbus where he is an adjunct professor at a local university.
Before leaving for various countries, the Pockets are playing an Immigration Celebration at Cafe Bobourbon St. in Columbus on Sunday, August 19th (early show from 7 to 10). Jordan O' Jordan and Midnight Wild Streets will be their guests.
"The show will be free to attendees that can recite all the lyrics to Lee Greenwood's 'God Bless the USA.'"
The Pockets have also booked time at Columbus Discount Recording to work on their upcoming LP, with plans to finishing it before heading to the Great White North.

Midpoint Music Festival - 2007

As promised, here is the schedule for Midpoint:


Now, I haven't had much time to check out each unknown band's web site individually. But I'm going to try. These shows are about hearing new music. So all you douchebags who just plan to go see your best friend's band again - for the 1000th time, perhaps try to broaden your horizens for a change? Jeez.

Overall, it kinda seems like q is the place to be most days, along with Speakeasy and the Exchange. Thankfully they are near to one another, so bar hop as much as possible.

Compiling a list for each night was TOUGH. Thursday night is kinda slim pickins. But if you stick with my choices you should be happy. Friday night is rough, because so many great bands are playing at the same time. For this night I included some different options. It almost seems like you should just stick with q and Speakeasy. I'm kinda leaning toward Lions Rampant over Earwig, only because I've seen Earwig perform before. On Saturday definitely start out with Paper Airplane (performing a lot of new songs these days) and then spend the night going back and forth between Speakeay and q.
For now, I recommend:

Loyal Divide.....10:15 p.m. at The Exchange
Receiver...........11 p.m. at the Ink Tank
Shrug...............11:15 p.m. at q
Ellery................12:15 a.m. at Below Zero

for algernon........9:15 p.m. at q
Beard of Stars......11:15 p.m. at q
Southeast Engine...12 a.m. at Speakeasy
Earwig.................12:15 a.m. at q
Lions Rampant.....12:15 a.m. at the Poison Room (Toxic Stage)
Cari Clara............1:15 a.m. at q
Woosley Band.......1:15 a.m. at Mr. Pitiful's

Paper Airplane.......................10 p.m. at Speakeasy
Turnbull ACs..........................11:15 p.m. at q
Wussy.....................................12 a.m. at Ink Tank
Seedy Seeds...........................12 a.m. at Speakeasy
Buckra...................................1:15 a.m. at q

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

MPMF 2007

Couple tips, courtesy of Mike Breen (see column to the right):
Apparently, the schedule is going to be announced on Wednesday.
Also, Superdrag will be performing an early show and doing question and answer sessions with musicians.

Failure of the local music critic:
Why the underground has no voice

The more I look around the region at band interviews, I'm starting to notice a similar thread that runs through most of them.
We get to hear about how the band formed, how long they have been together, followed by a cute anecdote about being in the band.
Then it all ends along the lines of: And by the way they have a CD out now. Voila! Story done.
Never mind how it probably took the band several years to make the CD. Maybe their brother died in a car accident when they went to the studio. Maybe the singer cut off his hair in a freak blender accident.
My point is that every artist has a story. Just because they are some unknown punk rock band from Dayton, doesn't mean they have to be treated like idiots.
I just would like to know if anyone ever talks about what bands are actually trying to say anymore. Does a band have a philosophy? Is the songwriter trying to a make a point with his lyrics? How did growing up in Podunk, Michigan lead to a guy's love for dobro guitars? Does the entire CD have an overall theme to it? If so, how does it relate to them as musicians or people?
Even as I type these questions I can picture a lot of people moaning about how there is nothing worse than a local musician spouting off about how "this song is about George W. Bush and I hate the war." That's understandable. But if a musician is going to come across like a baffoon, at least give them the opportunity!
It's just that when I think of small independent bands I think of a faceless sea of noise. They are like an armada of ships, with white sails and dozens of people on board each one. But we'll never really know what they are up to. We'll never really know where they are going.
Then it makes me think of bigger bands, that perhaps are signed to a label. Maybe it's a well-known label. Maybe the lead singer is dating a famous celebrity with huge boobs.
When you read articles about them, the writer takes you into every detail. We get to hear about the tea the singer slurps over the phone. Or when the drummer hears a siren go by on the street and stops talking, we get to hear about how his sister was hospitalized for anorexia and how that influences his drumming.
Maybe one song on their CD is about the singer's fear of public speaking, which relates to the overall theme of the songs being about different Greek orators. Maybe the guitarist talks about the death of his father and how dealing with the loss led to a spontaneous song about bird calling, which he wrote one night in 15 minutes.
Instead, when it comes to local bands, we get nothing. No insight into the art being created at the underground level.
In fact, the only times we hear about the artistic themes of independent bands is when they have gone out of their way to make it obvious. For example The Sheds released a CD about trying to quit smoking (which is amazing, by the way) or The Black Swans and their CD about the uncomfortable sexual inner self of the songwriter. Even Homeville Circle were forced to send out a disclaimer to their latest release and how they were trying to create a new form of music. If it got reviewed I doubt they would have been asked.
I don't know, maybe I'm in the minority. Maybe no one cares what Cari Clara's upcoming EP is all about. Maybe people just want to know how the music was made, what studio it was recorded in and what local musicians helped out. But I've heard some of the songs that will be on it and I thought they were great. I'd like to know what they are about. I'd like to know what Cari Clara is trying to say. I'd like to know what the Satin Peaches in Detroit are all about. I want to know the stories behind some of Ryan Jewell's instrumental songs.
Honestly, the only times I have seen music critics give proper attention to bands is when A) They are personal friends with the band, or B) They are personally related to the songwriter, dating them, or what have you.
Oh my god, I would love to give you some personal examples I've seen. But I'll be mature about it.
I just think by giving small unknown musicians a platform to speak, perhaps we might all be surprised at what they have to say.

(I do have one bit of defense for local music critics: Sometimes local bands don't really know what they are saying yet.)

It's closing time!

So let's start a run down on all the bars closing in Ohio lately:
• Cincinnati's TopCat is gonna close.
• Little Brother's closed in Columbus
• The Lime Spider is closing in Akron (eh, that place was always impossible to book anyway)
• I'll add more as I think of them

Ray of light?
• Ah, but Toledo just re-opened Frankie's Inner City venue. Let's hope it doesn't become a goth metal bar again.
• I guess Cincinnati's Alchemize is keeping it's name and not changing it to Decibel Lounge - thankfully Nick Spencer is apparently still not going to be a part of it anymore.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Failure of the Fresh-Faced:
How local music scenes dig their own hole

I was thinking the other day about how tough it must be for young bands. More specifically, bands full of kids who've never really been involved in "local music scenes." They come in with fresh faces and they end up falling hard or getting sucked right into the game.
I suppose I've been disappointed lately by how local music scenes seem so xenophobic. How the walls go up and everyone that's caught on the inside reaps the rewards and those caught on the outside have to fight tooth and nail to get heard.
Over the years I was pretty naive. I assumed bands that got all the good gigs were just the best in town. I figured if I went to a show and it was packed full of people, it was because that band must be better than the others.
Then I started to notice that the band with the great draw in Chicago actually had a drummer or a singer who was in a much more famous band years ago. Or maybe the band that got all the great gigs in Cleveland, had a songwriter who is best friends with the guy who books at the Beachland Ballroom - stuff like that.
But I've learned that it goes deeper than that, this xenophobia.
I know people often describe music scenes like high school. But that's not too unfair.
When I started high school, or even junior high school for that matter, I was always surprised how everyone suddenly seemed to know one another. Then you'd learn that most had gone to the same elementary school or junior high together.
It's the same with music scenes. You have these guys who grew up in town. Perhaps they have lived in the city their entire lives (which is most often the case). They went to high school with other future musicians. They are all best buddies. Those people eventually joined bands in college, and then go to each other's shows. They go to the same bars, drink the same beers, date the same girls and play the same styles of music. Normally their entire scene is directed around one band, or one person, who used to have some kind of fame or extra ability that everyone always wants to be associated with.
You can find this in every single city. There is nothing wrong with it. It's pretty natural.
But imagine you're a kid with hopes to start a new band. In fact, maybe you're pretty talented. Of course, you start on the bottom because that's all you know. You do a bunch of open mic nights and people start getting interested.
At this point outsiders have two options, and these two options are what totally stifle the creativity of most local music scenes.
The kid will soon enough get approached by several scenester musicians (old or new school), who offer to help the kid start a band. They will show him the ropes and introduce him to all the other locals.
At that point, the kid joins them wholeheartedly and is welcomed to their scene. His shows have great crowds. Then the kid starts to notice that those locals have rules. Maybe they don't hang out with certain people. Maybe they only like certain music styles. So the next thing you know the kid is being expected to follow along, write punk rock songs now or techno dance songs, simply because that is the stuff locals have been into ever since high school. He can either join further and go along with it, or not.
His second option is to do his own thing. In that case, the kid starts to lose favor with his scenester band mates. The kid is probably not very good onstage yet either. So he has that going against him. Sooner or later the band breaks up, his former band mates telling their friends how the kid didn't know what he was doing.
So that's one option, which I've seen over and over again.
But maybe there's a musician who's great, but doesn't live in town. He didn't go to highschool with them, or even college. He doesn't have the opportunity to hang out with other musicians. He can't be best buddies with the other bands. That's the guy who will toil for years with no draw, until:
A) A bigger local band decides they love his music and gets him into the scene, or
B) He gives up.
Either way, the kid is going to have to deal with the same local scene xenophobics.
The fact is that local scenesters know that their buddies will all go to their shows if they always put the same four or five bands on the bill. Why fix what ain't broke?
But this kills a scene quick. You see, most local scenester bands never do shows out of town. They always play in the same three bars, then they proceed to book their shows every month. Because of their draw and because they are friends with the booker and bar owners, they get the best nights way before anyone else does. Next thing you know, great out of town bands can't get shows in town anymore. The great unknown bands full of outsiders are forced to either work their asses off - or join into the scene like sheep so they can share in the already booked nights.
This direction, of course, leads to bands kissing ass to local scenesters. They hope that if they go out of their way to be friends with them, then they can join in the fun. It becomes this sick game of cat and mouse. They find out where they hang out and try their best to impress them.
Sometimes I go to shows and watch an amazing band perform to three people. I may bar hop to a different place the same night and find 200 people chanting for some band that can barely play their instruments. But maybe they have seven guys onstage, half of which have lived there their whole lives, or they are best buddies with someone or they have the best pot parties after the show.
I have to admit, it's always more fun to see these scenester bands, because the crowd is full of their friends. They talk back and forth with everyone between songs. It makes it look like they are really great performers. But the reality is that if you put them on a bill in front of a crowd they don't know, they choke. They turn into shoegazers. It's easy to perform for your friends. It's much harder to do it in front of people who could care less.
My point is that some of the best bands in town die off because no one will give them a chance. Maybe the locals gave them a chance real early on. But the band was new and not particularly very good yet. The result makes it even more difficult to get back into favor. Locals will never give you a chance again.
The people in these scenes only go see the same several shows, with the same musicians, play to the same crowd. They are stuck moving with the herd to the point of defining themselves.
But local scenester bands also shoot themselves in the feet. They know damn well that they will have an automatic draw. So you have multiple bands with the same members. This way they can play a show every weekend and know each one will be packed. Next thing you know the bands can't book any shows because their band members are in too many bands. Fights start and bands break up - only to reform later on as a different band with similar members.
All of this contributes to how local music scenes develop their "sound."
It's this herd mentality which ends up defining who they are. That's why bands in Columbus mostly play gutteral old school rock. That's why Indiana has a lot of quirky bands, or why goth metal goes over so well in Detroit.
But it's all pretty unfortunate, if you ask me. It seems like everyone loses out. Scenester bands never really learn to be unique and unique outsiders never get the chance to be heard.
So let's work on loosening this up, shall we people?
Lately I've been wanting to comment on things I notice in "local music scenes." Things that hamper and ruin creativity. Things I've noticed have always been going on.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Regional releases

Lots of regional CD releases this month. I'm looking forward to hearing many of these:

Lions Rampant new CD comes out Aug. 4
Paper Airplane "Middlemarch" - All Hail Records is now out
Cari Clara - EP Release soon to be released
Spanish Prisoners "Song to Forget" already out
Cellar Door Records - Cellar Door Records Volume II soon to be out

In other news:
Cleveland's Afternoon Naps have a new blog
Necropolis has a new song up
The Corto Maltese and Two Cow Garage looking for new drummers

Friday, August 3, 2007

I was able to make it into Columbus last night to check out the Heartless Bastards at the Ravari Room in Columbus. Pretty great show all around and I ended up walking away surprised by a few things I saw.
The night started out with locals The Bygones, who have been around for many a year. Sadly, I had never seen them perform until last night. What a waste. The band is superb.
They take the concept of roots guitar rock and fuck around with it. The one thing I look for in a great band is that they have their own defined sound and (most importantly) that all their songs sound different from the next. One minute The Bygones sound like a more direct version of John Spencer and the Blues Explosion, the next they are doing dead on three part harmonies in some 50s inspired ballad. But the entire time they sound unique. The songwriting is dynamic and incredibly interesting. The difference between a good band a great band is important. They have what it takes. I was also surprised at guitar player Matt Wagner. His high harmonies were perfect. It must be all that practice from being in 90 different Columbus bands.
Which leads me to second openers Satin Peaches. I checked out their Myspace and they are from Detroit. I would never have guessed them to be a Detroit band. They sound more like a Chicago band. Either way, they were pretty damn good - notice I didn't say great. They definitely have their own defined sound going. It's rather 90s influenced and a bit psychedelic. Their general stance is to take a cool droning riff, drop down into some nice rootsy verse, then hit you hard with a screaming chorus. But no one screams like the dude in this band. Pretty unique, but recalling London's Suede. Check out their tunes online and see for yourself.
The problem with the Satin Peaches is that they know they have a sound, but rarely reach beyond that. After about three tunes you realize they all blend into one. Nothing frustrates me more than a good band that won't push their own boundaries. Still, I can see them blowing up.
Which leads us to Cincinnati's Heartless Bastards. It's been almost 2 years since the group has hit Columbus. You could see why, because Ravari Room was barely full. It looked no different than any other night with a couple random local bands. I was embarrassed at first. Heartless Bastards can pack entire venues three times the size in other cities. Thankfully by their second song, the crowd rushed in and made it all cool. But still, I figured the show would be sold out.
What can I say about them that hasn't been said. They are PWAH favorites and are indeed among my top three bands in the entire midwest.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

WOXY: The return of Local Lixx

I was glad to see this. WOXY continues to be the best.

From The Futurist:
Get ready for the return of a great WOXY tradition! We will be bringing the Local Lixx program back to the airwaves very soon and I am excited to give the announcement today. I will be hosting the show and bringing you the best local and regional music in our area. Also exciting is the program will be a podcast that will be fully downloadable and available on demand for you if you are not able to listen during the shows airtime.
So, if you are a part of a local band and want to submit your music for consideration on Local Lixx, just send a CD to me at the headquarters or feel free to send me an email if you need more information regarding submissions or Local Lixx, joe at woxy dot com.
This should be a great thing to help celebrate the HD Radio announcement from a couple weeks ago. So stay tuned for more details as we prepare for the return of Local Lixx!