Exploits of the Frictionless Man as it wanders around the world like some kind of slippery hydra. Music, words and pictures a speciality.

Friday, September 02, 2005

If clouds were mountains would it rain goats?

I'm not deliberately making this a weekly event you know.

We played in the Open Mic night at the Office on Wednesday and we played very well; tight and musical. The band is sounding better and better and more confident with what we are doing. Despite that, the reception by the majority of the Office crowd was standard Swansea; apathy. Which of course irritates me. But then, what can you do? Why should it bother me that so few people pay any attention?

Well from today I'm going to stop giving a damn. If someone does not find what we do a valuable experience for them, then that's up to them. I know that I find it exciting and entertaining and something that makes my life a more wonderful and colorful place, and others do as well. It's not as if we're trying to be rabble rousers or sing-a-long pop lovelies. We try to do something new, a new experience for the audience. If their preconceptions of what a live band does limits their ability to appreciate what we do then that is a limitation they have to deal with and suffer from.

I think that in Swansea, and I assume that it is not the only place, the concept of a band and live music is so codified, so endlessly reaffirmed, that unless you conform to certain set rules you're not just weird, you're actually wrong. You are not doing what you should be doing. You are not sounding like X, or making music like Y and your songs don't go ABC. The bands in Swansea that are liked and loved are the ones who do. They tick the boxes, they fulfill the majority pattern. I suppose that's what popularity is. Ok, I know that's what popularity is, and it makes me sad.

In which case how nice it is to be a Frictionless Man appreciator. You show imagination, a willingness to accept new ideas, an open minded approach to how you view culture. Your frame is unique, and what falls within it is magical. Well done you, you're so wonderful.

So grumpy, so sensitive.


satori shock pod (whooo class) said...

What!? And you've just worked that out? I'm not sure I know where the perfect audience may be hanging out. It's not in Swansea, that's for sure. Although, there have been pockets of people who bought into the Satori thing, even if only in a temporary way. I think certain groups of people would be more receptive, say art students for example. I think Frictionless Man would certainly appeal to a more artsy crowd - remember that Swansea audiences generally don't like musicians to be too clever or think outside of the box (you know, the one THE MAN puts you in). They like their folk and their blues and their tame, tame indie pop folk crossovers. They like singers who lack wit and just get on with the job of singing in a conventional rock kind of way.

I've said it a billion times; once you start worrying about what the audience is thinking then you are sunk. You should always make music for the sheer joy that it brings YOU. If an audience likes it then, hey, bonus. If an audience don't like it then it's a paid rehearsal. It's not like it's a proper job anyway. Is what my Mum would say.

Mr Frictionless said...

I thought it was time to complain again since it seems like a while since I moaned about this particular topic.

Miles Davies used to say, quietly, that there were two vibes; one here and one out there, and you can't do nothing about the vibe out there.

morriston burns said...

I obviously agree wholeheartedly with both of you. But I think that this attitude to music is unfortunately not restricted to Swansea; it seems to be a general attitude in Britain, maybe even the world, which is growing more apparent. As for art students, it's still only pockets (pockets within pockets!) of those who appreciate new music. The true music lover - someone who appreciates the good qualities of music across a wide range of styles; qualities such as honesty, integrity and innovation - could spring from anywhere. Obviously open-mindedness is the key, and you would think that ALL students should have this trait, given they have gone to college to supposedly seek knowledge, but no. How can you learn with a closed mind?
You certainly can't rely on students to be receptive anymore, not even art students, so you'll just have to hope for people with a naturally enquiring mind, or those who have been raised in that way; good luck! They are out there, but unfortunately in smaller numbers than the ignorant rabble that makes up most of the general public. If artists such as Bjork, for example, can carry on making exactly the kind of music she likes and releasing it, there's still hope.
By the way, Miles also said no matter what the vibe was out there, just play through it. I know it's easy to say, but it's true - if you play a lack-lustre, self-conscious performance, you can't blame anyone for not liking it. But, if you basically play your arse off with conviction and integrity and to the best of your ability, you will connect with those who are actually taking notice, and fuck the rest. Fuck Swansea, fuck it in the ear!

satori sadness ethercast (mild depression template) said...

That Morriston Burns is a foo...no, wait a minute again!! He's not only right but he has made probably one of the most articulate points yet made on this particular subject. I have to agree on the art student thing. I also wholeheartedly agree with the ethos of playing your ass off no matter what.

I wish I could avoid being judgemental about the taste (or lack of) of an audience. I try to cut that part out of what it means to be a musician and, dare I say the dirty word, artist. Problem is I still get a bit bothered when our music is ignored, especially as we invest so much into it. I wish people were more receptive to non-mainstream music and I would like to see British audiences and music venues have a greater respect for the performing artist.

Mr Frictionless said...

There's nothing wrong with referring to yourself as an artist dear, we are supposed to be making art after all.

My feeling at the moment is that a lot of audiences want to be reassured and comforted by what they hear. Not that the music is reassuring and comforting, but a lot of it does reside in very set genres. The pop is very pop and thin and tenuous, the rock is all anthemic and life affirming, the hip-hop, the metal, the dance crowd, all of them seem to be recycling themselves.

Fric Bass was in conversation with a fellow a few weeks ago in a Euphonium gig (an Euphonium?) His oppinion was that he preferred Dan Linn's (lead singer) acoustic work, and Fric Bass said that she preferred the whole band.

The fellow continued, saying that they were good, but that there was really no place for them in Swansea, they should get out into the wider world. Fric Bass pointed out that there was a place for them in Swansea because people like her wanted to listen to something new and different.

I thought that this revealed another aspect of the debate; there are conservative elements who have immense sway over the live music scene in Swansea. And like this guy I don't think they realise how much of an effect they have on people who are trying to do something new. That their indifference is more powerful than a dozen boos and hisses seems to have escaped them.

Whether people respect the performing artist or not I think misses the point. What we should be pondering is whether people need performing artists, do they have an active desire, a yearning, to experience new music, or are they content with hearing new arrangements of their favorite bands?

I know I'm one of the former who keeps turning up at gigs for the latter. Consequently I find it difficult to have respect for the performing artists, because they fail to satisfy my needs. And I imagine that it works the other way as well.

In my case then my frustration with the audience is because they want something that I am not prepared to offer them, but they are content to sit there and be disappointed, or irratated or just plain bored.

I think there is a slumbering group out there, who have accepted that there is no music for them, so they never bother looking. So how do we reach them?

Frictionless-drums said...

I'm painfully aware this thread may be long dead, but i've not had the pleasure of reading the blog for sometime now. Firstly what are you talking about lack lustre!? We had our first ever clap along to process of me, it's more involvement than we've ever got out of anyone else ever. Admitedly it was only three fellas who were making monkeys out of themselves, but they listened and their good time was our doing.

Reaching the raw ingredients we can turn into a fan base could only ever be a word of mouth affair in swansea. To further add to the depression the people we want to get to are estranged from even the other people we want to get to, because the nature of the cultural backdrop and artistic ambivalence means they wander alone. I think our best bet is to convert people, to start a little something of beauty ourselves and get other bands and artists to fight under our flag. And we will march, striding forth; consuming all before us in the chaos of imagination and caste down the lie of our entropic system! DAMN THE MAN! VIVE LA REVOLUCIONÉ!

Mr Frictionless said...

Yes they enjoyed it, you are right. And if we can get one person in each crowd to leave on a high we're going the right way.

Yes, start a revolution, let's start a cult. I'll grow a beard. Do cultists still grow beards?

frictionless-drums said...

yes but it's no longer mandatory

morriston burns said...

When I was talking about lack lustre performances, I wasn't referring to 'you' personally; I was expanding upon Miles' comments to make the point that all bands should try to play their best even when faced with an apparently bad crowd, because there may actually be a couple of appreciative people out there who need to be reached, and who in turn will spread the good word - a point which Mr Fric' picked up on in his last post.
So, no offence intended in other words!

Mr Frictionless said...

Oh, you said lack lustre? I assumed he was telling me off for something or other.

I think he was referring to the audience response as opposed to the way we played, which was impeccable, of course. That is because we are waaanderful, daaarlink.

frictionless_drums said...

Yarg i would never impugne our own ability, and assume that when others do they must have made a mistake, or at least 'didn't get it'. That's a lie I take criticism very personaly and cry for a couple of days after. However i was referring to the crowd not us.