This week, I saw John The Savage and Bela Emerson at Komedia.
John The Savage is an experimental post-something-or-other band featuring my friend Richard Brincklow on piano. Don’t be put off by my arty-sounding and vague description. They have tunes and they can play. They groove and they rawk. But they’re also very unusual indeed. Go see them (and their support) when they next hold a Club Savage event at Komedia: 25Sep08.
Bela Emerson is a cellist and one of those solo artists who uses lots of digital loops and pedals to create her own accompaniment, but she does so in a genuinely inventive and musical way. You can watch her in action here, though the piece chosen and the somewhat murky sound don’t do justice to the dynamic and frequency range of the sounds she somehow elicits from the strings, frame, and hardware of her cello. I liked the show so much that I bought both of her CDs.
This reminds me of a blog post I read recently by a musician complaining that no one bought his band’s recordings, at gigs or anywhere else. He claimed that they weren’t crap because they had supported [name band] on tour—which shows a certain naivety about the way support slots to big bands are booked—but foolishly included a link to one of his own band’s recordings.
There’s a reason why they call his kind of talentless, tuneless, hackneyed noisemaking “landfill indie”. It’s the same reason why no one buys his band’s stuff or, indeed, why no one buys empty plastic cartons containing sour milk dregs: people value rarity and quality. Originality, and compositional and performing skill are rare; MP3s and CDs of feeble songs sung badly by middle-class white boys over harshly-processed guitars in bands with “ironic” names are not.
It’s the difference between a warm, witty handwritten letter and another piece of email spam promising to “enlarge your male tool to please all women”. Some musicians are so good at what they do and have so much worth saying that, when they start quietly in a crowded room, people shut up and listen; some musicians are so bad that they have to turn every volume and tone knob to 11 before anyone will pay them a moment’s notice.
Thanks for the lovely plug Poots. For the sake of google karma (for which I know you are blessed) I should point out our band name is John the Savage, not Jon.
Whoops. Fixed now. Maybe I was thinking “experimental … prog … Yes … Jon Anderson”.
[Adjusts 80s spectacles and brightly coloured sweater, puts arm around shoulder of showbiz pal while strolling towards the clubhouse for a G&T:]
Poptastic gig, mate!
It’s the same reason why no one buys his band’s stuff or, indeed, why no one buys empty plastic cartons containing sour milk dregs: people value rarity and quality.
This is true. I cannot play anything of quality, but when I play 1930s hillbilly finger-picking guitar around a campfire, nobody can accuse me of not choosing something original to play. Perhaps that’s why I generally get attention. By the way, do all audiences stand around in goggle-eyed astonishment for two minutes before breaking into laughter?
I heard Bela Emmerson on the Scaledown Radio show and was mightily impressed.
I agree with the thrust of your post.
Bought the Bela. Thanks.
You might like Zoe Keating, who also does cello with digital delays.
Thank you! I’m really pleased you enjoyed it. A fine night all round indeed
You’re welcome. Excellent show.