Technological innovations over the past 10 years have changed the entire concert experience. There was a time where filming or tape recording a concert were frowned upon. In fact, there was an entire episode of What’s Happening? in the mid-70s that focused on the perils of bootlegging concerts (featuring The Doobie Brothers!). But in today’s concert setting, people pull out their phones to live tweet, take pictures, and film with nary a glance from security or venue staff. I myself get annoyed by the iPhone Army present at most shows, many patrons spending more time checking their Facebook status update about seeing the band than actually watching them. I don’t mind patrons taking a moment to snap a picture, but when it turns into a photo shoot, I have a problem.
Several years ago I saw Broken Social Scene at SXSW and before even playing a song, front man Kevin Drew gave a speech along the lines of “Instead of trying to capture this concert through videos and photos, let’s just enjoy the moment and let our memories encapsulate it.” This was a big moment for me since I’d spent the past year filming a lot of shows for this blog (one look at my YouTube page and you’ll see there’s been a major falloff in video posts since that show). Up-and-coming British post-punk band Savages have taken it a step further, requiring all patrons to turn off their phones or the band won’t play.
Friday February 18; 2:25 AM-
At the moment, it sounds like there are elves in my ears playing tambourines. My ears have never rung like this in the history of my life. This is a side-effect of the Swans. The first ten minutes of their live show consisted of the a guitar being placed against an amp as feedback resonated. It could have been 10 minutes; it could have been 20. Piercing, howling, feedback, mind you, no one was on stage. Just NOISE. Then, suddenly, a man appeared, shirtless, with the greatest mullet known to man, hair reaching down to his asshole like a true neanderthal. He walked over to what resembled a wall of church bells and began banging upon them with mallets. He banged, and banged, and banged, for another 10 minutes (feedback all the while mind you).The keyboard player eventually made his appearance and added his noise, soon after followed by the steel guitar player, raging upon his weapon of choice like no one has ever before for another five minutes. We are 30 minutes in at this point. In the next five minutes a guitarist with the greatest snake tattoo upon his arm joins the noise, followed by a bass guitar that had the beer can in my hand shaking. It was on. 40 minutes in, singer/guitarist Michael Gira emerges from the backstage wearing a 10-gallon hat. He stands at the front of the stage for another five minutes amidst the noise, snarling his lips and raising his eyebrows like a modern day John Wayne. And then….the real action began… this was just the first song.
A small snippet of the intro opus that someone else filmed:
Unfortunately, I didn’t capture this 40-plus minute performance on my Flip-Cam. In fact, I was so caught up in the show that I didn’t remember to film any of it until I had a moment to gather my thoughts before the encore.
Here’s the encore:
And here is a clip someone else filmed (although I don’t like there oldie time camera effect):
Here’s a clip from the performance I caught last night by the Australian rockers Eddy Current Suppression Ring. While performing “Tuning Out” from their latest album “Rush to Relax”, guitarist Eddy Current breaks into an epic guitar solo that I was fortunate enough to capture. The fact that I didn’t see any guitar pedals reiterates the sheer skill this chap has on the six string. Enjoy this clip that gives just a glimpse of the bedlam that the show contained.
(For some reason YouTube took this HD video clip and made it look like World War II footage. Also, I apologize for the shaky camera; I may have been a tad inebriated.)