Saturday, January 30, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate Lip Service

One of the most difficult things about being in a band is the dreaded conversations you are required to have when either A) you didn't really like the band that just opened for you or B) when you just opened for someone and they didn't like you. The social contract says that we must all remain pleasant to one another. Of course, there is also the fact that you have to respect that the group of people that just played are doing something, and that does require a real leap of faith to put yourself out there. The key is in either case to remain positive on the surface while not really committing to be entirely on board. It sounds like a compliment at first, and it usually isn't until later you realize what it really was. We refer to this in our band as "lip service". For example:

"You guys were really tight!": This is used as opposed to saying "While you were well rehearsed and have a certain competence, I must say that your songs are awful."

"You guys are a lot tighter than the last time I saw you.": Translation: "While you were pretty bad tonight, at least you weren't totally horrible like the last time I saw you." I can't tell you how many times I have heard this little jewel over the years. So much so, that I use it myself on occasion.

"Looks like you guys had a lot of fun up there.": I don't remember who said that to me, but I knew at once this person not only hated what we played, he hated how we played it. The only possible thing he could comment on positively was our visible enthusiasm. The translation for "having a lot of fun up there" is "Wow, for a bunch of guys that I think totally suck, it's amazing to me that you are oblivious to it and are still having fun in that amateurish little way you do."

"Your set is something I will always remember.": I used this myself after a band that opened up for us in Canada was so terrible, they instantly catapulted to the top of our All Time Worst Live Band list. The guy that cornered me seemed like an OK guy. Nobody needed brutal honesty to the "What did you think of our set?" question. I was totally honest. I will never forget what might have been the longest 45 minutes of my life.

"I think I hear what you are going for...": I really liked this one. I seem to remember some Roots Rock icon hitting us up with that. Translation: "I was somehow able to cut through the misguided efforts of the band to find the small nugget of value you are trying to reach. While you did not come even close to getting there, I want you to understand I know what it should sound like if you particular guys were capable of getting there. Keep trying. Maybe you'll luck into it."

"I really liked that last one.": Translation: "I was sitting down in the dressing room and was so uninterested in you guys I didn't even attempt to walk the 7 feet to watch any of your set. Since you ran long, I did stumble into your last 45 seconds."

"Thanks so much for playing tonight.": This usually means, "We really needed someone to kill an hour before we played. While our first three choices for the opening slot were not available, we settled on you. It was no better or no worse than I expected. You have merely performed a function."

"You guys had a lot of energy!": This is a great one. People like being told they have "energy". I used to like it. Now I know it means. "Well, the songs suck and the playing is not so hot. However, you sure did move around a lot. And that counts for something. Now, if you could move your drums outta there, we'd like to set up now."

Random notes: Sometimes I think "Celebrity Rehab" might be exploitative. But then I watch Tom Sizemore smoking meth, and I realize it's just good wholesome TV... I had a 2000 CH du Moulin Rouge last night that I thought might be over the hill. Boy, was I wrong. It still tasted young with plenty of fruit. For a Haut Medoc, this was way more than I expected... I saw "Avatar" last week in 3-D. I liked being in a room full of people that looked like Roy Orbison. The movie was OK. It's like "Dances With Wolves" done sci-fi with great effects. Still, I liked "Up in the Air" way better. But then again, I'm not a 14 year old boy, so that is to be expected... New Spoon record? Good. New Vampire Weekend? Not so good. New Tom Waits? Really good.


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