I got dragged along to the Forum a few nights by a friend to see Late of the Pier play. Never mind that their music is just Gary Numan furiously masturbating into a synth, it was filled with pretty much the type of person I can’t bear to be around.
Live music and music in general is in a bit of a pickle. Many people are saying that we’ve never had it so good, but is that really true? I mean, there’s no doubt that due to myspace and the like, we’ve been exposed to a lot of bands who are thoroughly productive and creative. However, I can’t see any of these bands standing the test of time. Will anyone really be listening to Late of the Pier in 20 years time? It’s doubtful that anyone in 2028 is going to listen to a pastiche of what the 80’s were like, rather than just going for the real thing. Musicians face a problem today that almost every angle has been covered in music, making it very difficult not to sound like you’re imitating sounds of the past.
The downside of the online music phenomenon is that you inevitably have a lot of shit sifted through independent labels. Witness for example, Patrick Wolf. Saviour to the hormonal 14 year old girl he may be, but to everyone else he’s just a Bowie imitator for the Boombox generation. No matter how much he drowns himself in glitter and feathers, he can’t help looking, well, just a bit old hat. When shock dressing and glam was first born, the point of it was that no one had ever done it before. Having said that, I do miss the days of music when rockstars looked like, well, rockstars. If you take a look back at the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Ian Dury, Guns N Roses, David Bowie, Roxy Music, these people actually looked like they came from a higher power. The ethereal quality they had was part of what made them so interesting to watch. Now you just get Late of the Pier prancing around in skinny jeans with no shirts on, and we’re expected to like them? Members of a band are supposed to be removed from the public, sartorially interesting and just a little bit crazy.
I’m pogo-ing back and forth between both sides of the argument here. I’ve always been hesitant to take on things like downloading music, so perhaps I’m just a grumpy old man. Disposability is the byword of our generation, be it regarding clothes, media or music. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who’s hoping for a bit more than the endless stream of bands that seem to record one good album and then disappear into the wilderness, soon to be found gigging at the Dog and Duck, propped up by their morning shifts at Tesco.
Late of the Pier: Slathering themselves in paint and hoping to sell records
Ian Dury: Sold records without the use of paint.