It is a strange day so far. The usual start up with an early morning rise, adding more silliness to the social media, and preparing for the daily ride. But today there is something strange going on.
At the end of the block there is a police car with lights flashing. It seems the city in its infinite wisdom has decided to repave the main road between here and there on a weekend. There has been plumbing repairs on this road for the past two years, but suddenly there are trucks and paving machines digging a path in the normally flat road, and not even where they have been digging. I’m sure it is planned from the bigger picture, so I just adjust my path to another route.
Then I see a motorcycle with a sidecar. That is fairly unusual for this neighborhood then I notice that the sidecar is camouflaged and had a heavy-duty machinegun on it. After that everything else seemed normal for a strange day.
But that was not the thought for today. As a reigning member in the society of the absurd my thoughts were focused on the music festivals that will be happening in this ‘burg this summer. I look at the menu of the artist and performers and wonder do I want to wander down to some crowded venue to sit in the heat, drink overpriced watered down beer, and listen to songs I may or may not know with limited enthusiasm but great sound?
Much like television, festivals present a format of entertainment. Lights, lasers, pyrotechnics, dancers and really, really big screen TVs present the entertainers. But to keep the audiences attention it must be louder and flasher and the real reason to listen to a dedicated musician or a composer is the music.
Great shows to me are full of surprises and unique sound that really presents a challenge to the audience, but so many of these presentations is what the “white bread” audience will pay for. All you have to do is see the Rolling Stones. They made a ton of music and a variety of sounds, but even with their mega over the top stage shows, they play the same songs over and over again. Musicians’ play to the audiences likes and composers will fade away if a following do not form. The more complicated the sound, the more confused the audience. The more danceable the sound, the better the general audience likes it.
With that said, what about the guys and gals who travel from venue to venue to present a sound a promoter thinks will draw a crowd and make a profit? These are people who are trying to make a decent living presenting their passion to a crowd of strangers.
I am trying to compile my thoughts of teenage years working weekends and holidays with a variety of beggars and thieves and a vast array of structure and talent hopefully named “When The Band Broke Up”. From the perspective of knowing I didn’t follow my passion at the time for the security of a steady paycheck I can faithfully appreciate those who did and feel the sorrow for some who still do.
Being on a stage is an exhilarating experience, whether you are a dancer, singer, speaker, actor, musician, and acrobat, whatever. You are presenting yourself blindly to an audience with your talent in hopes of appreciation. As a teen it was easy to follow blindly the dream with innocence and naiveté. Being young and vulnerable gives you the freedom to sleep in cars, carry heavy cases (no roadies or monitors), work for beer with long hours of repairing busted speakers and guitars and having no money; but it was all in hopes of finding that girl in the crowd who would leave her jock boyfriend and follow this ratty band of misfits into an unknown world. Of course that never happened. My dad never told me about that so I had to learn myself.
So watching those guys up on the stage in your local brewery or at the next festival take another look. These are mothers and fathers and drifters and wanderers and followers of dreams or delusional individuals who have to pay their taxes and raise their families while indulging in what the rest of us find an exciting adventure from our mundane lives. As they twirl about and squeal on stage the rest of us dance that little toe tap approval, these people put out whatever they can for as minutes allowed to hopefully boost recording sales and then get back on the bus to go to another town with another crowd to try and capture more attention. The ones who had grown to massive crowds are reduced to playing the Holiday Inn circuit.
As I watch the stars of today, just as emulating the stars of the past, I have all the toys but not the desire to travel from place to place, crammed on tiny stages or overwhelmed by the festival crowds, trying to maintain a fairly tuned instrument while impressing the audience with cool poses and dance moves while sweating like a pig. Sleeping in a bus instead of a car with the same smelly people you spend every day with, confronting managers and promoters and unions that demand every minute attention and leaving family concerns behind for business.
So looking at my possible writing of teenage fantasies I will only remember the best parts and forget getting stuck in the sand on a beach while trying to sleep and feeding mosquitoes or getting threaten with death by annoyed boyfriends or being stranded states away from home and having no cash or any of those other experiences the boys in a band shared and somehow overcame. I’m sure guys have the same bonding adventures who joined teams or clubs or even a junior army society.
Maybe the band will reform?