So…it appears that I am starting a trend of being wrong here. On Thursday, in a post about possibly (possibly, folks) being wrong, I posted a video of this new band called The Antlers. That same night, I went and saw them open for Editors at The Wiltern. I was excited. And wow. The most rambling, self-indulgent, condescending music I have ever heard. Huge, long, drawn-out Tchaikovsky endings to every single song, and then, as soon as you think the 11 minute song with the 4 minute ending must be over, the guitarist/singer and the keyboardist both drop to their knees and twist knobs on their pedalboards until there is this ambient fuzz wash thing hanging in the air. Now, the first time they did that, pretty cool. The 8th time…ya. Not so much. And no attempt whatsoever to connect or communicate with the audience. Which is really the point of music in the first place. The best part of the night was when, amidst the 6th, I believe, ending of a song with random feedback, the feedback I guess went on too long through the house system, because the singer then made some derogatory joke into the microphone about the sound guy. And then he waited for us as the audience to join him in laughing, but the whole audience was like, ‘Um, are you sure that’s not just your guitar?’ It was awkward. And I couldn’t help but think that if this band liked themselves just a tad less, and tried maybe for just one song, to humbly allow the audience to commune with their music rather than giving off the attitude of, ‘Here’s the be all end all of music, and if you’re too dumb to understand it, tough’, they could be the next great thing in music right now. I mean, they are talented. Amazing sense of melodies, incredible use of instruments and effects, and great orchestrations. Some of the fullest and most in-depth textures I have heard. But all of that was lost on us as we watched them drift farther and farther away from us into their own world of self-importance.
Just a smile. Or a nod, or a laugh. Something to make us believe they were trying to communicate their art to us, rather than lord it over us. With that change in humility, they could be on top of the world in a couple years. Or maybe at least perceived humility. Who knows, they could be the most humble guys on the planet. But that didn’t matter as far as the concert went, because that didn’t come across to us. I watched the whole audience just drift away through their set. Talking, laughing, leaving for drinks…this huge disconnect started forming, and the worst part was that The Antlers seemed to be reveling in that disconnect. And then I started wondering how often we do that in worship music. Are we trying to communicate the worship of God to our audience, or are we reveling in our own musicianship? Or even in our own sense of communication? Reveling in your own ability to communicate can put an end to that ability really quick. Or…even not communicating because we’re reveling in our own worship, and using the stage as our personal prayer closet. We’re up there for a reason…and that is to communicate this sense of worshiping God through emotions, and letting that transcend into our daily lives. And sometimes we can get so caught up in how awesome we are, or how awesome the music is, or how awesome it is that world hunger is now alleviated because we played this song, that we can stop communicating altogether. And it’s really empty.
Oh, and by the way…Editors? Simply astounding. If you have not seen them live, you owe it to yourself before you die. The complete opposite of The Antlers. The whole feel of the night changed when they got on the stage. Suddenly, you felt as if you were feeling what they were feeling, and as if there was one song between them and the audience…and they just happened to be the ones with the instruments and microphones. The atmosphere was electric. There really is something about watching musicians truly feel the music, and stop trying to be cool, and let themselves go. And when Tom Smith, their singer, does a guitar dance that is so off-the-wall that you think, ‘What an idiot’, you know that he is no longer performing, but simply feeling. And that feeling, coupled with a humble and heartfelt desire to see your audience come on the emotional journey with you, rather than just watch you do it, is what communicates. Did you do that new David Crowder song because you thought it would communicate well with the congregation, or just because it was on his new cd? Did you do that tasteful anti-solo during that old hymn because you thought it would communicate well with the congregation, or because it would sound really good in the recording? Just some thoughts.
Oh, and for those of you doing the math, and noting that I posted the original Antlers video on the day I said I was celebrating my anniversary, and now seeing that in this post I mentioned seeing this show on the same day, yes. I have the coolest wife ever. And this is where she actually wanted to go for our anniversary. Wow.
And lastly…this has nothing to do with anything…but I was looking at my pedalboard this morning, and noticed my unused expression pedal, the expression pedal inputs on my Midi Mates, and the 50-some-odd patches yet to be written into the Timelines. Yep. And for those of you who have the Timeline, a $20 expression pedal plugged into the Midi Mate can control any knob on the Timeline, and is writable to a different knob per patch. I am discovering that it is very wonderful.
And of course, some Editors live footage: