Tag Archives: shows

Me At My Music Snobbiest

This week, I saw two incredible shows: Preservation Hall Jazz Band at The Barns at Wolftrap and Gil Scott-Heron at 930 Club. The weird part of these shows is that I did not see any of you there (Note: HD was at PHJB and out of town for the second show). I think everything is possible, but it is as close to impossible as possible for me to respect someone’s thoughts on music if they did not attend these shows. So consider yourself dismissed.

So who was there? Aging baby boomers. It’s a sad state of affairs when the sell outs, people too busy driving their kids back and forth from college, and those who have been scared into regular blood-pressure checks have better music taste then your peers.

Rock Has No Soul, But Does It Have Flow?

Thanks to an incredibly generous HD, I was able to see Vampire Weekend when they played Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in early February. Given all the hype, I expected them to both bore and hurt, but I was surprised (yeah, yeah, the album is on my To Listen list).

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, but quickly noticed two aspects of the band. First, they are clearly young. Their sound is bare and minimalist (but not in the good German way), needing to expand, be filled in, and evolve past the rather simple structure of each of their songs. That part’s doable and standard.

The other issue, though, is that the lead singer (Ezra Koenig) has no flow. All of their songs are delivered in the same monotone post-Brit pop way. While the nasality of it all is loved by the birds and very trendy, the lack of tempo, note, and style changes–in other words, flow–is not. Even in the whitest of white genres, indie rock, (good) bands usually have lead singers with a bit of flow. And those outstanding bands have lead singers with amazing flow. In this latter case, the best example I can think of is Karen O, who uses incredible significant and nuanced vocal/flow changes within a song, between songs, and across albums (Admission: I listen to the entire YYYs discography once every 36 hours, on average).

It would be difficult to argue that flow does not matter to all music with vocals, but we rarely think, hear, read, or write about its importance outside of hip hop. At best, there is mention of the singer’s voice, but that usually has to do with energy, clarity, and pitch, not the more general but also more specific notion of flow. So here’s my purely rhetorical question: Why?

Thurston Moore at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (20070929)

I have made a bit of noise regarding bands skipping DC, often hitting the area via Baltimore, but I am beginning to think I should keep my mouth shut. The main reason is that DC music fans do not bother showing up for incredible shows. For example, how is it possible Thurston Moore‘s show at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel this past Saturday did not sell out until well into the show? Keep in mind that (1) it is Thurston Moore, (2) his latest album is perfectly normal and perfectly great, and (3) tickets were only $15? It is almost enough to say what kind of self-respecting music fan was not at the show.

In any event, Moore was a master…including throwing up on his guitar mid-song. If he wasn’t so old, that’d be rock ‘n’ roll. He’s also a master at writing songs with that slow groove I’ve been talking about (to people, not on this blog).