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Friday, August 16, 2013

Show Review: Terry Malts, Heavy Hawaii @ The Void

Show Review:
Terry Malts,
Heavy Hawaii
@ The Void

  Full disclosure: I left this show before either band played because it was running so late (second band hadn't taken the stage at 11:45 PM, four band bill.)  Doing the time calculations in my head that puts the headliner on somewhere in the neighborhood of 145 AM. I couldn't hang!

 While I was there I was thinking about a conversation I'd participated in with a few 20 somethings where the subject was the creation of new band.  It was the most interesting conversation I'd had in months and subjects immediately prior and following were the creation of social identity on the internet and the relationship of tumblr to other social media channels.

  One thing that has changed since I started this blog is the process by which new musical acts form.  In 2005-2006, almost every new act was a band.  People would either know one another socially or as part of a larger network or advertise and then start playing together, and people would either bring songs or write songs together.

 Flash forward today, and the main change has been the increase of solo/"bedroom" Artists who draw attention without a band and then may (or may not) assemble a band for touring purposes.  The rise in the number of those artists means, by definition, a corresponding decrease in the number of traditionally formed bands that can break out of a local to a national/international presence.

  At the same time, having a larger group can be most useful when it comes to the most basic acts of creating an Audience for specific Artist.  Namely, they probably have friends who will be that Audience, and they will make a live show more interesting to more people.  So that is an interesting contradiction in the area of forming a new band/music act.

  The rise of bedroom Artists in the last half decade points to an area where NOT having a band is preferable, and that is the creation of the style/iconography of a new Act.  When you think about a traditional rock band, the identity is typically formed by the demeanor and performance style of the live band.  Artistic/Graphic identity was something that only became a concern if/when the Artist in question obtained a substantial Audience.

 Today, that is reversed.  The live show is essentially meaningless to a potential wider Audience unless the graphic/artistic/style of the band is as compelling as the music itself.  I'm talking about something as simple as the band name, and as complicated to the growth and maintenance of mailing lists and social media channels.

  Thus, if a group of people decides to start a band- for the right reasons- that doesn't mean that the look/style of the band need be a collaborative effort.  Something I've noticed about younger people today is that because of the requirements of social media they are well versed at the construction of a social/artistic identity independent of their self at a young age.

  When you combine that fact with the reversal of polarity between the importance of a band having a good live show vs. interesting image/sound/style it's clear that the clubs are not necessarily the place to look for a young act to emerge.  It's unclear how this will play out but I think you can see what I'm talking about if you look at very popular recently emerged Artists like Vampire Weekend and Grimes(and of course the regular Artists I write about all the time here.) These succesful artists had a very well developed aesthetic even before they were noticed by a wider audience, and if you read about the people involved you can see that they were engaged with the process of forming an identity on the internet before they started their currently, succesful projects.

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