Sunday, December 2, 2012

Micro-Rant: Your Music Stand Is Not Very Rock And Roll

Try to think of and visualize some of the greatest performances/performers of all time:  Hendrix at Woodstock, the Who at the Isle of Wight, Dylan at Newport, Mingus at Antibes, the Ray Conniff Singers at the Nixon White House*.  Hell, you don't even have to think of anything that monumental.  Just try to think of the best performances you've seen.  Unless you spend a lot of time checking out shows with orchestras, I'll bet you don't remember seeing a single music stand on stage.

Without tipping too much info, I've seen recently two performances in which one musician in the group was behind a stand, reading music.  (Both bands were more or less rock bands.)  In one case, the band was to play one song as a part of a larger performance.  One.  Freaking.  Song. It was that performance that set this little rant off.

Before I get rolling, let me tell you who is exempt from this rant:  folks who play in orchestras/chamber groups/choirs - jazz, classical, choral groups, etc.  Folks who are playing sophisticated, non-improvised pieces.  I think you know who I'm talking about.  For the rest of you, no love. 

Maybe I'm supposed to take that musician(s) more seriously because they're reading music.  If you skip around this blog enough, you know that reading music is a skill I lack and a skill I deeply value (oddly enough).  But instead of taking that musician seriously, the opposite is true.  As a member of the audience, seeing a music stand says to me that you're not all there in the performance.  It says that you couldn't be bothered to memorize and/or interpret something you are supposed to be playing for me.  It says your being lazy.  It says I and my time are not really that important to you, and that kind of pisses me off.

I realize I'm blowing this out of proportion.  But if I'm coming to see a band live, I want them to be there, in the moment, giving me everything they've got.  You're not giving yourself to me (or your audience) if you're up reading music in your dopey cover band.  I can't think of anything less rock and roll than your music stand**.  So ditch the fucking stand and try practicing.

* - I'm being serious here.  This was an amazing command performance for Tricky Dick and some others that culminated in some of the members of the group holding up anti-Vietnam War signs.  It was really intense.  I really wish I could find the footage of it online.

** - Okay, I actually can think of one thing that is even less rock and roll:  setting up those folding chairs you always see at outdoor weddings in a fucking rock nightclub.  Like we're supposed to sit there and be good little boys and girls why you bore us between songs with your name dropping and shitty stories.  Fuck you, Over The Rhine.


  1. My band plays without a set list. How rock and roll is that baby?

    1. Nothing more rock and roll, Kimmy!