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Thread: Interesting NYT article

  1. #1
    Member Foucault's Avatar
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    Cool Interesting NYT article

    Not Reunions, Reinventions (Back and Better. Really.)
    By BEN RATLIFF
    WAS that a queasy feeling you had recently, when you authorized payment on a $300 ticket for this summer’s Police reunion concert? What about that weird web of logic that made $249 for a three-day pass to the Coachella Festival next weekend seem an allowable expense, because you’d be seeing Rage Against the Machine, the radical-leftist punk-funk band that wrote timely songs challenging the domination of real-life power structures ... until 2000, when it ceased to exist?

    And was that a shadow across your face the other day, when your friends were talking about the greatest rock shows ever, and someone asked if you’d ever seen the Pixies? “Yes,” you said, brightly. But you qualified that. “I saw them on their second reunion tour in 2005,” you murmured. Then you left the room, looking guilty.

    We are going to have to come to terms with all these feelings, because reunion shows will soon become a much more normal concertgoing experience than we ever knew. More than that: I think we can meet them with an open mind.

    If these reunited bands meant something to you in an earlier time, perhaps you’re feeling the dirty power of money, or the lameness of aging. (Maybe you really can afford that ticket now. Maybe it isn’t such a drag to drive to the stadium. At least you know there’s parking.) Perhaps some part of you tells you that you don’t deserve it; you didn’t put in your time in the rooms where that band started out, at CBGB, or the Rat, or North London Polytechnic, or wherever.

    Or maybe something about these events feels broadly, even comically, illegitimate. Aren’t we supposed to form a community of taste around living culture, not afterlife culture? Isn’t a great band supposed to be more than just a band, but an embodiment of a particular age, a state of mind, a place? How do you identify, then, with an aging act whose members are well past their original states of mind, have mostly relocated to sunnier places, and whose prime motivation would appear to be making money through entertainment consortiums like AEG Live, which controls Goldenvoice, the concert promoter behind the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival in California, and the pathbreaker in the marketing of recent-past reunions? And aren’t, say, 15 years of inactivity required before a reunion can be considered desirable?

    Unless you are a lawyer or a promoter for one of these bands, all you have is your ears. Despite all the bien-pensant hand-wringing about how reunions smell fishy, a band is a band. It is not more powerful than the sound it generates on a certain stage at a certain hour, its grooves and tones and tension and release. It is made of musicians who are considered young for a while, and then become older. They play in a club, then maybe a stadium, and then maybe a club again. They have money disputes, or they don’t want to look at one another for a while, and they stop. Then the market changes in their favor, and they play again.

    When Rage Against the Machine became popular in the ’90s, it seemed disconcerting that many of the band’s fans wanted to hear the sound of a metal chair bashed on a concrete floor rather than be alerted to new methods of revolutionary praxis. But it wasn’t the fans’ fault: They were slaves to the whomp of that fuzz and funk, and the rhythm and pitch of Zack de la Rocha’s hectoring whine. The band’s sound eclipsed the higher brain functions, at least for a few minutes at a time.

    More and more of my working life, it seems, is predicated on whether I can find a band playing a song for the 4,000th time to be in any degree convincing. I do, increasingly. I used to feel allergic to reunions. For each band I’d seen in its prime, I had an image in my mind and thought it worth protecting. Worse yet, I grew skeptical of bands as they moved past the 20-year mark.

    But those shows over the last few years by the reunited Pixies and Stooges, they were loud and rude and fantastic. And they were judicious. Through their set lists, they located the potential excitement in the task of explaining what the bands had been all about.

    It was a fundamentally weird decision for each of those bands to re-form earlier this decade. I don’t mean that they didn’t know a dollar when they saw it. Issues of credibility run to the marrow of a band like the Pixies. Now that we’re into the era of indie-rock reunions, we have to realize the bohemian rock culture of the ’80s nurtured the idea that credibility is more important than money, even more so than the bohemian rock culture of the ’60s had. But the Pixies and the Stooges were examples of reunions that ended up being more successful than a band’s original iteration. This is the part that seems new, and this is the part we will likely see more often, as long as a band has the platform of a Coachella or a Bonnaroo — or any of the other sophisticated new festivals — to stage its rebirth.

    If you had working knowledge of the Pixies’ and Stooges’ albums, you may have been stunned by how sophisticated live sound has become since those bands disappeared the first time, and how they have adapted the advances to their own needs. And what about the best of those who never formally went away — a band like Slayer, a performer like Prince? They carry so much maturity after more than 20 years that even if they don’t retain perpetual youth, they have something that might be more important: complete control over their own sound.

    I realize that this view might seem to decontextualize music, and even depoliticize it, which might be problematic with Rage Against the Machine. But isn’t it more accurate to see music as music, and not as philosophy or policy? (Put it another way: If you admired Rage specifically for being a forthright radical-left political band, how could you ever forgive it for being absent through George W. Bush’s presidency to this point, only showing up after the Democratic landslide of the midterm elections?)

    There’s nothing new about an aura around a cultural event growing in proportion to the unlikeliness of its happening. Long before the Pixies, Pete Seeger, with the reconvened Weavers, sold out Carnegie Hall in 1955. Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s recordings from 1946 can seem to have a bittersweet, lived-in feeling, made after the two musicians were geographically separated by war for some years. Gilbert and Sullivan’s reunion operetta, “Utopia Limited” in 1893, benefited at the time from publicity about its circumstances: It followed a two-year breakup between Gilbert and Sullivan provoked by a lawsuit.

    But there really is a lot of high-profile reuniting this summer: the Police will begin its first tour in 21 years. Genesis will tour for the first time in 15; Crowded House, 11; the Jesus and Mary Chain, 9; Squeeze, 8; Rage Against the Machine, 7; Smashing Pumpkins — if you count two of four members a reunion — 7. The members of the original Van Halen nearly made it to the starting gate for the first time in 22 years, but called their summer tour off in February.

    There are clear reasons for this trend. We’re seeing the winnowing of the live-music era in America, as well as the end of belief in the album. Any crisis of belief leads to sanctification and orthodoxy; people want to see the saints work their magic. Ashley Capps, who helps produce mid-June’s Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tenn. — which has booked the Police as one of its headliners this year — put it in a slightly simpler way. “When I was growing up, the release of an album was an event,” he said. “We’ve moved away from the notion that the release of a recording is an event. Somebody can release a great album and get fantastic reviews and everybody’s talking about it, but how long does that last? Six weeks? In that sense, live performances are becoming the important event.”

    Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, the concert-industry magazine, is so used to old acts propping up the industry that he doesn’t believe this year’s picture is substantially different. “Last year you had Bob Seger, this year you have Genesis,” he said evenly over the phone recently. He is not sure whether new bands — Arcade Fire, say — are striking deeply enough into the soul of the culture to necessitate their own reunions down the road. I think context will determine it. If there are lots of great new bands in the next 10 years, we won’t feel we need an Arcade Fire reunion. If there aren’t, we will.

    It seems now that the audience position for rock is coming closer to that of jazz around the mid-1970s. Most of the forefathers are still with us; increasingly, they seem to have something important to teach us. And we are developing strange hungers for music of the not-so-distant past that might be bigger and deeper than the hunger we originally had. That feeling people talked about during the Pixies shows a few years ago — the word “eerie” was used a great deal — seems similar to descriptions of the feeling generated in the Village Vanguard when Dexter Gordon played his comeback shows there in 1976, after living abroad. Since then, jazz has advanced into a culture of incessant re-experience, endless tributes. Actual reunions are barely noticed: a huge percentage of the music refers to great moments of the past. Yet that doesn’t mean that jazz can’t still be fantastic, even transformative. It is, all the time.

    We have to allow for the possibility that Rage Against the Machine — or the Police, or the Jesus and Mary Chain — could be as good as it ever was, if perhaps a little more wizened, a little more skeptical. (It will depend on their practicing of course.) If you’re still looking for something sacred, it probably can’t be found in their values or politics or cult significance. It’s in you: It is your own reaction to how they sound. Nobody can take that away from you.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    man, an Arcade Fire reunion would be totally sweet.
    lollipops and crisps

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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    I am all for reunions but when a band charges 300 bucks to see them thats bullshit.
    Ive got the demons in me, Ive got to brush them all away.......

  4. #4

    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Man I wish The Police would reunite and tour.

    That would be awesome lolz!!11!!!!11!!1111!one.

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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    I get where he is going, but he is just too damn scatterbrained to fully flesh this article out... oh yeah and he is writing it as an elitist bastard
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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Man that was a tough read. He should write about Roo' that would be a fun one.

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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    I get where he is coming from. I felt the same way seeing the Pixies twice on the 2005 reunion tour. Same with Blonde back in 2000. I kinda feel like a nostolgic tool for wanting to see Jesus & Mary Chain again, or Crowded House and Rage. There are plenty of great new bands - why am I spending $300 to see these reformed bands? I think it has to do with giving props to old school indie bands. What better way for fans to thank a band like Rage or JAMC than giving them one more sold out show and cheering adoration? Great music deserves an audience, so I am happy to be a part of it, even if it cost $300 to be there.
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    Coachella Junkie C DUB YA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    The most disturbing point to the article is the pointing out that LP's are no longer events. This to me spells trouble. In the long run - the live shows will have to be fed by the way people truely feel about the record, NOT word of mouth hype, hype almost always fails to deliver.

    So what if you can download the reecord in time for the gig - it has no meaning to you - there is no (strong) connection to what the music makes you feel. To put it simply, what comes easy is easily forgotten or not appreciated. When the tunes come and go like that, gigs are sure to follow.
    Last edited by C DUB YA; 04-23-2007 at 05:49 AM.
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    Pedley Rocks JustSteve's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Quote Originally Posted by ttboy80 View Post
    I get where he is going, but he is just too damn scatterbrained to fully flesh this article out... oh yeah and he is writing it as an elitist bastard
    i just think he's not writing it at a 3rd grade level like most journalists are required to do at most major newspapers so a majority of the stupid can understand what is being said

  10. #10
    Judgy McMarco TeamCoachellaHellYeah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Quote Originally Posted by I'm Rosetta Stoned View Post
    I am all for reunions but when a band charges 300 bucks to see them thats bullshit.
    completely, I mean at that point it is all about the money...
    Quote Originally Posted by TomAz View Post
    Reviewers who note the size of the crowd are dumb fucks.
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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Quote Originally Posted by C DUB YA View Post
    The most disturbing point to the article is the pointing out that LP's are no longer events. This to me spells trouble. In the long run - the live shows will have to be fed by the way people truely feel about the record, NOT word of mouth hype, hype almost always fails to deliver.

    So what if you can download the record in time for the gig - it has no meaning to you - there is no (strong) connection to what the music makes you feel. To put it simply, what comes easy is easily forgotten or not appreciated. When the tunes come and go like that, gigs are sure to follow.
    I don't think this to be true..I mean look at the tour Radiohead did last year..All the new songs are still VERY special to fans. I loved some of the new material just as much as anything off of OK Computer and Kid A. I think the point now is that the Album itself it not going to be as important as the live performance it self. I mean when you think about it, in the grand scheme of history, albums are something only recent in Music. Mozart, Beethoven and the numerous classical musician never released a album. Technology wasn't around. Neither did the old Blues men. So, I see this as a positive thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by TomAz View Post
    Reviewers who note the size of the crowd are dumb fucks.
    COACHELLA's: 2001. 2002. 2003. 2004. 2005. 2006. 2007. 2008. 2009. 2010. 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014. 2015.

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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Quote Originally Posted by TeamCoachellaHellYeah View Post
    I don't think this to be true..I mean look at the tour Radiohead did last year..All the new songs are still VERY special to fans. I loved some of the new material just as much as anything off of OK Computer and Kid A. I think the point now is that the Album itself it not going to be as important as the live performance it self. I mean when you think about it, in the grand scheme of history, albums are something only recent in Music. Mozart, Beethoven and the numerous classical musician never released a album. Technology wasn't around. Neither did the old Blues men. So, I see this as a positive thing.
    the radiohead stuff hasn't been released officially, so the feeling was of discovery, even if there was downloadable material.

    true, the album theory didn't come around until the late 50's.

    the idea that gigs could falter due technology is plausible.
    how many bands have suffered due to backlash from exposure?
    the problem has always existed, but this is a dilemma that has developed from the advent of the internet.
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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Quote Originally Posted by ghettojournalist View Post
    the radiohead stuff hasn't been released officially, so the feeling was of discovery, even if there was downloadable material.

    true, the album theory didn't come around until the late 50's.

    the idea that gigs could falter due technology is plausible.
    how many bands have suffered due to backlash from exposure?
    the problem has always existed, but this is a dilemma that has developed from the advent of the internet.
    Not sure I understand, are you saying that technology might hurt live concerts?
    I argued that the idea of albums as a medium dying is not a bad thing. That music existed before albums and will be there after albums.
    Quote Originally Posted by TomAz View Post
    Reviewers who note the size of the crowd are dumb fucks.
    COACHELLA's: 2001. 2002. 2003. 2004. 2005. 2006. 2007. 2008. 2009. 2010. 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014. 2015.

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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    yeah, i just used your post a springboard for something i read earlier on the thread. a little scatterbrained, but i'm tired.
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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Quote Originally Posted by ghettojournalist View Post
    yeah, i just used your post a springboard for something i read earlier on the thread. a little scatterbrained, but i'm tired.
    It's cool baby! Just making sure I was on the same page...
    Quote Originally Posted by TomAz View Post
    Reviewers who note the size of the crowd are dumb fucks.
    COACHELLA's: 2001. 2002. 2003. 2004. 2005. 2006. 2007. 2008. 2009. 2010. 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014. 2015.

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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    The LP is less significant because anybody can make one in her dorm room now. With iMacs and internets, everyone is a recording artist these days. But not everyone can sell out a show and rock your socks off.

    There's nothing sad, tragic, or wrong about it. Music / art / dance / film... it all evolves over time.
    Just Say No to eurotrash nonsense. Rock n' roll will set you free.

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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    The LP is less significant because of crap like iTunes where music has been allowed to become bite sized. Albums don't have to stand on their own now and thats sad.

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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Quote Originally Posted by suprefan View Post
    Man that was a tough read. He should write about Roo' that would be a fun one.
    Perhaps the writer was being paid by the word. The story could have been more clearer in 200 or less words.
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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkO View Post
    The LP is less significant because of crap like iTunes where music has been allowed to become bite sized. Albums don't have to stand on their own now and thats sad.
    It's not sad though. Before there were recording devices, musicians might have said that their invention was "sad" because an album quantified music, as opposed to a live performance with no definitive end. That'd be silly.

    The LP is simply something that belonged to a specific era. It isn't sad that it no longer belongs, just different. Everything comes and goes.
    Just Say No to eurotrash nonsense. Rock n' roll will set you free.

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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkO View Post
    The LP is less significant because of crap like iTunes where music has been allowed to become bite sized. Albums don't have to stand on their own now and thats sad.
    Speaking of which, EMI announced that their entire catalog will be digital-only.

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    Default Re: Interesting NYT article

    Quote Originally Posted by CiderMouseRules View Post
    The LP is less significant because anybody can make one in her dorm room now. With iMacs and internets, everyone is a recording artist these days. But not everyone can sell out a show and rock your socks off.

    There's nothing sad, tragic, or wrong about it. Music / art / dance / film... it all evolves over time.
    So true! Mediums just change according to the times..I mean look at what we have been through in the last 50 years!! Cds, Cassettes, Vinyl. I do think that the Ipod killed the album though. Before I had my I bought tons of CDs but since I had it I almost completely stopped buying them. Not because I downloaded off of limewire, but because I amassed such a huge collection of music I had a chance to go back and listen to everything. Plus, with Ipods you can make your own setlist...Who wants to hear Merzbow followed by Bjork followed by some Warp label stuff? I do!!
    Quote Originally Posted by TomAz View Post
    Reviewers who note the size of the crowd are dumb fucks.
    COACHELLA's: 2001. 2002. 2003. 2004. 2005. 2006. 2007. 2008. 2009. 2010. 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014. 2015.

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