Clash of the Titans I Hardly Knew Ye

Well, last night was the final Clash of the Titans at the Big Easy of “the Season.”  What this means exactly, I’m none too sure.  Will Season 3 start up in February?  Tomorrow?  Who knows.  What I am sure of, is it will start up again, to quench this town’s unquenchable thirst for hearing more popular music performed by our local axe-slingers and wailers.

Portland loves cover music.  It’s what draws.  So you can’t blame the musicians for wanting to perform the shows, and you can’t blame the club for hosting.  (Or can you?) Here at the Portland Point, we like to Point fingers (pun intended and a fundamental element of this blog’s foundation) and so let’s have a go at it.

My first instinct is to blame you the people. You. It’s your fault. Why don’t you support local music? Get out there, see it, live it, breath it.  Make it so our local clubs will WANT to book local music because it too will draw crowds. But wait – why do people not want to come see local shows? Is that really their fault?  If you dine at a diner and your don’t enjoy your late night egg scramble and under cooked hot italian sausage, is that your own fault, or the restaurant’s?  I would argue “the restaurant’s.”  So if our local music listeners don’t come out to see a show – is that their fault or is it the musicians’ fault?  Clearly, using the same logic, it’s the musicians’.

Make music people want to see.  Plain and simple.  If your music sucks, make your show something worth seeing.  And for the love of God or Goddette or whatever we say to be politically correct, don’t perform twice a month!  or Thrice a month.  I mean, which hooker are you going to hook – the tired and boring one who’s on the corner of Cumberland and State every night or the Emperor’s Club’s “Kristen” who’s just passing through town, one night only, get ‘er while she’s hot?  Sign me up for the latter (but don’t tap my phone, please).

Cover music and events like Clash of the Titans CAN be a part of a vibrant music scene.  It’s fun, and there’s no denying.  But when it is the grounding element of the scene, then that’s a scene that needs a makeover stat, or at very least a major face transplant.  So when I said earlier that you can’t blame the local musicians, I take that right back.  That’s whom I’m blaming.

In summary, my advice to you local musicians:

1. If no one is at your show, it’s your fault

2. Make better music / make better shows

3. Pick and choose when and where to perform – don’t always just say “yes, we’ll play”

4.  Too much Cover music, and the scene will be incurably crippled.  Think about it.

5. And as always: PROMOTE the damn thing so we know about it!

All this aside, I can’t wait for Season 3 of the Clash of the Titans so I can once again “support local music(ians)” without actually having to hear anything unfamiliar or new!

Published in: on December 18, 2008 at 9:35 am  Comments (1)  
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The Big Easy – How about hearing some songs someone else wrote

We only have a select few venues for live rock and roll in this town and we are lucky that they are run well for the most part. It’s distressing to see the direction taken by The Big Easy of late. Never mind the aesthetic disaster of a calendar that dittos itself for its Monday-Thursday columns, but please do mind the prevalence of cover bands. Sweet mother Mary. A Portland music scene virgin would question whether this town produces anything Made in Maine at all – or if we’re even capable. The Clash of the Titans (which purports to showcase the local talent but instead showcases a select A List of local talent) isn’t going anywhere as it packs the place every Tuesday. You know, that’s fine, I like the Clash, it’s fun and the energy is totally positive. Now imagine it in a context where every other night original music is supported and the Portland Public comes out to hear what its membership was creatively up to. Unfortunately, imagining is what we must do.

Ok, let’s have a gander at the Big Easy calendar coming up; let’s see if we’re getting original music or our local boys and girls performing music someone else wrote. Tuesday, the Clash of the Titans. Covers. Wednesday, Strange Pleasure. Cover Band for the most part, some original tunes that blend in with (and sort of sound like) the covers. Thursday, Band Beyond Description. A Grateful Dead Cover band. Friday, the Awesome. 80’s covers. These guys have been at it for a long long time – can they still enjoy it? If so, good for them, no disrespect, but this shtick has been played out. Maybe they still draw an audience, the Big Easy I’m sure hopes so. Saturday, Hutch Hats Release Party. I’ll give the Easy the benefit of the doubt and dub this one a night of original music. Hopefully it means hearing Hutch Heelan play. 1 to 4, a .200 batting average. Sunday, all ages show, bands TBA. This doesn’t even count. It’s a week before the show and the bands are TBA? That’s not fair, it takes way more than a week to properly promote a show. Nothing Monday. The next Tuesday, another Clash – cover music. Wednesday, Strange Pleasure. Again. Like last week. Like the last X weeks. Thursday, Band Beyond Description. Again. Like last week. Like the last XxX weeks. Friday, Tony McNaboe. Drummer from Rustic Overtones. I imagine this will be original music. The one-name, expect a full-night of music thing befuddles me – three sets? two? Why not put on an opener for exposure? Who knows anymore. So, then round out the month with … an actual… I can’t believe my eyes… a normal 3 band show, like we’re supposed to have. Spose, with Luch and Eliza. Alright Big Easy! Granted it’s Hip Hop, which is not good old fashioned rock and roll, but at this point, beggars of original music cannot be choosy.  These three acts are all from Maine.  At the midpoint of the month, we can look forward to One real show of original music, two shows that are probably original but tough to parse, and then a whole mess of other people’s songs.  For the record, no shows of original rock music.

What does this all mean?

This town has an insatiable appetite for Cover Music, and the Big Easy is cashing in like it’s going – and before it goes – out of style. We should be so lucky.

It’s a Catch-22 of course, why should the club deny shows that will be packed, and why should the bands refuse to play the cover tunes? They shouldn’t. But let’s have some moderation, people. Let’s go see the bands when they’re in their natural / actual environment, let’s have the Cover nights truly be a fun break from the norm, instead of the norm itself. We can do it, we owe it to ourselves to do it, but we probably won’t.

Speaking of the Big Easy – remember when a pint of beer was 16oz? Just saying – a “pint” isn’t an arbitrary thing, it is a unit of measure, with a specific definition.

For now at least.

Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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