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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Show Review: Ducktails/Mark McGuire/Lost Ships

Ducktails, from Vogue Magazine

Show Review
Ducktails
Mark McGuire
Lost Ships
@ The Void

  Another well attended show which makes it at least 3 shows in a row that I've been to that haven't ended in a crushing disappointment in terms of attendance.  I've been helping with the on-line marketing of selected events around town and I feel like the strategies employed are working.  It makes me very optimistic about the ability of the online world to multiply real world attendance for live music events on a local level.

 The first band was the nu project of Gentleman Jon Greene, called Lost Ships. Two piece Shoegazy/ballady alt pop.  I'm not exactly neutral since I frequently employ Mr. Greene via his recording studio Electric Orange, but it was an exciting debut.  Lost Ships is way ahead of most bands on their first show, including features like being able to seamlessly transition from one tune into the next without an awkward five minutes of standing around and returning.  They also have a clearly defined style of song writing and a compelling sound.   From a local show perspective they are ideal because they could work with a wide variety of different sounding bands.  Certainly worth a listen at a local show.

Mark McGuire

  The revelation of the night was touring support Mark McGuire(ex-Emeralds.)  Solo guitar/multi instrumentalist  he came across like a one man Ratatat.  He lost some momentum and crowd attention during the middle of the set with an extended spoken-word interlude, but the overall impact was striking AND Peter Hoslin of San Diego City Beat showed up essentially to see him.

 Ducktails did their thing in front of a crowd that had peaked in terms of size and attention span for Mark McGuire.   Far be it from me to question a band that has 2 million last fm plays and a deal with Domino Records, but I would have expected more people to be there FOR Ducktails, and I would guess that only about 30% of the crowd was there for that purpose.  It's not a question of lack of familiarity within the local market- Ducktails played Soda Bar within the last year or so.  It's not a question of not having a new product out on the market- the nu record "dropped" in January of this year.  It's not a question of them sounding different/worse live- the performance was steady and the songs came across so well you could Shazam them.

  So what is? How come a band with two million last fm plays and a well promoted event not generate 150+ paid attendees.  The only explanation I can come up with is that the people who saw them last year probably were not that excited about the show, and that impacted a potential increase in audience size this time around.

 That is a fine illustration to the limits of a Pitchfork driven Audience: They will come out and see you live the first time, but if you don't kill that Audience is not going to expand the next time through.  Ducktails, with their clean, effective live performance is not a band that "sucks live" a la your Salems, but in my mind they didn't outperform, and both opening bands did- strictly in terms of Audience turnout- I'm not making any artistic judgments.

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