Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Problem with Local Bands

Heres something we saw today that made us think of a recent scuffle we had with a certain local band, as well as the attitude that many musicians seem to have toward album reviews in general.

It also made us think of one of the comments someone made in our "Ravens" post about how the Ravens do NOT in fact sound like a band playing at a Wal Mart shareholders meeting or opening for Cherry Poppin Daddies. They called us an "example" of why Dallas is failing as a local music scene. If you think WE are the problem, as opposed to boring ass "rock" bands that play the same old crap that has been getting shoved down our throats ever since Happy Days went on the air, then you might want to really sit down and listen to the Ravens like we did. We don't really mean to pick on them, and we certainly don't want to look like we are taking sides in some scene battle... thats why we keep our names secret: so we can tell anyone to fuck off at any time. But as stated in the link above, no one should get a free pass for being a local band. THAT is why local music sucks. Because expectations are diminished for local bands, because they are our friends, because they are a relatively "new" band, because we want Dallas to have a fun scene, because we want local bands to succeed, or because people we know want to make money. All of these factors diminish our honesty about local music, don't they? And they also cause bands that aren't really that great to become full of themselves, and local music fans to settle for crap that is in fact subpar at best.

There are a LOT of people in DFW, and that means that there MUST be a decent amount of talent here in town, much of which we don't yet know anything about. The sooner we stop accepting boring bands just because they are local, the sooner we can start looking for better, more interesting local music to see. Dallas local music fails BECAUSE of the music, not because fans are jerks or because a local blog read by a couple hundred people trashes a band that deserves it.

JR- weshotjr@yahoo.com

11 Comments:

Blogger fuzzbuzz said...

Very well put. The lack of peoples interest in something isn't to blame...it's how interesting the art is they're presented with. Bravo. Another nail hit right on the head. Somewhere a fact has been lost...that fact is that clubs don't have a built in crowd usually...hence why they book you local bands to bring people in. They are trying to pay rent and sell beer to do it. Also- theres this little myth that an A&R rep is going to be sititng in said divey bar on a weeknight at 1am and discover your little band and all you've ever had to do was show up and play. This is not true. Any band thats ever gotten anywhere (in the monetary/fame sense of the word) probably toiled many years, spent a lot of money at Kinkos making flyers and practiced and played their asses off. It takes work to get anywhere if it's worth anything at all. The "scene" is what you make it. Apathy gets everyone nowhere- bands and fans alike.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wait, I didn't mean you guys are the reason the scene is falling apart, I just meant people not working together... you know we are all in this together. My band plays and practices our asses off... and we don't by any means ever draw any kind of crowd, but we do continue to play because we love it. And yes local bands should never get a free ticket, but don't you think people should come out and give new music a listen? Sorry if I came off wrong on my statement... I agree with fuzzbuzz, the scene is what you make it and apathy is no good.

1:53 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

no problem friend. You didn't make anyone mad or anything, we just disagreed with what we thought you were saying. We do agree that its generally a good thing that people go listen to new bands and give them a chance... we hope everyone does. We just don't really care for THAT band. Cheers.

JR

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems pretty clear to me that a lot of the bands in dallas (DEFFINATELY not all of them) are selfish as hell... actually BLAMING fans for sucking? that doesn't seem very smart. move to LA, fail, and shut up.
...Write songs about how kick ass your "home town" is (even though your home town is dallas and LA or New York or wherever-the-hell-you're-going is just where you moved), and forget you were ever from dallas. thats what you were always gonna do anyway.

A scene is built around great music, cool fans and fun/helpful venues.... this whole "blame game" thing is rediculous (i don't use spell check, sorry). If the music is good then the venues will want the bands to play and the fans will come and see them. Sometimes there aren't enough venues that want to play local bands, but dallas doesn't have that problem (i don't think). if you're in a young band you can find a place to play w/o a whole lot of hassle (it may not be in front of 100 people, but if its your first gig... you probably don't want that many witnesses anyway).

i think people just don't want to put in the amount of effort it takes. Fans don't want to LOOK for cool bands, they want them to just show up and kick ass. Bands don't want to develop, they want to wake up and have groupies.

And belefante: dallas is a dead city? is coldplay somehow the new "hip band"? When you leave, you will be shortly forgotten. You'll move to a new city and realize there are 20 bands just like you saying the SAME THING about their town in EVERY TOWN. This is like when every JamBand in the late 90s thought they would be huge if they just went up east.... guess what, up east there are 300 bands that sound like you but do it a little better (not that i like that garbage anymore, but i digress).
...have some respect for what fans you do have and don't shit on the town they are from, even if you do think it's "dead".... maybe the only thing that's "dead" is your sound.

and fuck off w/ the chicken hat already.

4:48 PM  
Blogger wakka-wakka said...

Your post is spot-on.

When I unwittingly told Sarah Hepola the same thing a few weeks ago (I was introduced to her only after I made the offending statement), she became visibly agitated. I tried to soften her up a little bit by saying that I understand the Observer writers' predicament, that I know they're in the difficult position of having to write about the people they drink with, and that I was not slagging the writing itself--because the writers clearly have critical chops–-it's just that I think it's a shame they can only unleash those chops on people who are not in their social circle (i.e., SouthFM, or any other Sack of Kittens band).

Even though I gave her what I thought was an easy out, she didn't take it.

But I shouldn't have expected her to. After all, fessing up to allowing her social life to influence her criticism would pretty much invalidate any of the idealism that (I'm guessing) propelled her through school and into the low-paying world of rock criticism.

That's why an anonymous blog like yours is so important. Whether they admit it or not, by-lined writers can't be impartial about their friends. So it's up to us, the faceless, sniveling masses, to do what they can't do: take anonymous potshots at those whose art sucks, but are otherwise too nice to deserve the criticism.

6:26 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

exactly. Thats why we are doing it... and it makes it kinda fun to have a secret too. If we worked for the Observer, we would have a hard time talking shit about our friends' bands. We don't fault them for it, we just don't think they can do the job as well as someone who doesn't have to worry about their social life.

6:48 PM  
Blogger fuzzbuzz said...

You know I've never seen Wilonsky out at a show back when he was more of a major player in the music writing realm for um...THAT little rag...and I think that it's a good thing for music journalists to keep their distance from local bands to a degree. When you start playing grab-ass, kiss-ass games with bands to make yourself look cooler and you're always around the same clique..and go figure- writing about them every damn week...you're really weakening the scene and no one trusts your "opinion" anymore. You render your writing NULL and BORING...might as well just write love letters personally to the band about how awesome they are instead of wasting ink and the readers time.

6:51 PM  
Blogger fuzzbuzz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:51 PM  
Blogger zak said...

Good points all around. The scene is what you make it. If you, the fan, think it sucks... you are seeing the wrong bands play. Go out an explore. Broaden your scope. We only have ourselves to blame for bad music.

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post. I followed the link and didn't think what the blogger had to say was all that insightful or honest though. Obviously a critic. Let's write a "13 rules a music critic should follow" and see if they don't burst into tears. Critics forget that they are also in the public eye when they put something in print- and the same little "standards" they use against local bands should and could be turned just as easily on them. Local bands are easy targets. Bad writing is just as easy. So on that point-let's all just realize that everyone has an opinion to express and we don't have to necessarily care about what everyone thinks about us all the time.

11:20 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

absolutely. Bad writing is just as worthy of being attacked as bad music, and we're open to that kind of criticism on here, and in fact encourage it so that we can all improve as writers. We've just been focusing on music here for the most part because we care about it a lot more than rock journalism.

11:53 PM  

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