Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Problem: Accidental Disrespect

OOPS DEPT., JAN 13 - A letter arrived recently from Sami, a 20-year old student living in Vienna, Austria. Sami explains that he once lived in Virginia, and his writing is fluid enough that I'm not quite certain about his exact nationality. Of my 2008 posting about NY Times coverage of a Thrones show, he writes;

In your writing you express your concern about the lack of human empathy of the 21st century audiences - how people at shows resemble columns made of flesh and bone (and thick rimmed glasses and Burzum shirts may I add!) these days, on the floor. For example, I saw... a Sunn 0))) show this summer. It seemed like only people came who read about them in Vice, or some other COOL outlet. The entire audience didn't connect at all with the music.... I feel you, and what you're trying to say...

Rahav Segev

I had only one problem with your post: I'm in it. I'm on the very, very, very right of the NYT photo. The one who probably put you in the train of thought to almost describe all of us as "slack jawed"(not gonna lie, I wish my lower jaw had more girth!).

I took the Chinatown bus from DC only to see that show, see Joe.... in fact I [???] sleeping at Pennsylvania Station until my bus left the next morning... I just love Joe and HAD to see him live after being a big fan of his time with the Melvins and listening to Sperm Whale. You've been to a ton of his shows and you know that many of his songs are crushing. Others are quick and, dare I say, "catchy", and Sam I swear I closed my eyes and rocked out. But I'm pretty sure the photo was made RIGHT after Joe played 'Ephraim', and if one could use 'traumatized' in a positive context, then this would be fitting. The photographer left as soon as he had a photo of Joe singing in the can. The show was larger than life, incredibly lonely yet communal in a way that Joe provided [?]

There are some hidden traps to writing about music after one has been in an active band. It takes a bit of work to convey that one is neither bitter nor self-congratulatory about one's time on stage. The few times I've written about my own newfound, post-band aversion to bands, and concerts, and records, it has been with some measure of awareness that I don't want to dismiss or inflate any music I myself participated in. I just don't like going to shows anymore. If there was any deeper subtext to my review of the NYT review, it was simply my seething, subconscious jealousy that Joe made it into the pages of the Times and I apparently never will.

Now I can add one more trap to post-band music writing; accidentally disrespecting an innocent bystander. Apologies to Sami. No disrespect intended. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.