Tuesday, March 29, 2005

$5 Is Better Than Free, Trust Me...I'm Credible

Tonight I headed up to that other school in NYC for "Noise from the Underground," a panel discussion on the credibility of webzines, alt glossys, and blogs in the music journalism world. Now I won't say that it was a complete waste of time, because it was quite interesting, although it definitely was not interesting in the way the panelists would have hoped. If anything, I think the credibility of the panel was the first mistake. How can these people talk about the underground journalism, especially blogs if 90% of the panel either don't read them. Sasha Frere-Jones was the moderator, the pop music critic from The New Yorker, which seems like an oxymoron to me. Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor at Rolling Stone was worthless. He didn't even know what a blog was. I could go on an on, but according to them: no one reads long blogs. So I'll give you a brief wrap-up with what I actually found worth sharing from the event.

  • Amy Philips, freelancer and an actual blogger (oh my!), called blogs a radical political act. It gives voices, especially to females, that still are not present in mainstream print world. She called the rise in internet journalism the democratization of the critical voice. They needed more like her.

  • Tunde Adebimpe from TV On The Radio was the only one who really made any sense. While the others were arguing at the fact that no one was making any sense, he said very few words but ones that were both informative and (gasp!) new. For a musician, he mentioned that it is frustrating to see reviews recycled. He said that he can actually see where different critics cut and paste what has already been written. He also mentioned that because of blogs and the instant scenes they create, there is a fear for the musician that they are being pushed for a quick turnover. A label wants them create as much music as possible in the shortest amount of time, while they are still on the minds of today's fickle listeners.

  • According to Knox Robinson, editor at The Fader, indie-rock bloggers are name-droppers and link addicts. That is why I chose not to link him, and any other of the panelists that I didn't care for. So there!

  • In the end, the true test of any journalism is if people who don't know you, or are not as obsessed with music, still find your posts/articles entertaining, that's what will make it. Music writing is writing first.

  • I'm glad it was free. I wanted to know more about the real underground. I wanted to know about mp3 sharing on blogs. I wanted to know about the instant reviews, the publicity for up and coming bands, and where they thought the future of music journalism was heading.

    Instead, Liz and I kept rolling our eyes at how ridiculously pretentious the majority of the panelists were. Music critics put themselves on such a high pedestal it honestly disgusts me. I pray I never become like that, and I don't think I will because I will never call myself a critic. If anything, I realized how little I want to work for a mainstream publication, and hope I can continue my quest with Underrated. They are so focused on the critic, the critic the critic. Music journalism isn't all about judging. I don't care to read any reviews in any publications because I think they are bullshit. I think all the panelists forgot or never were in the business for the love of music to begin with. They were too concerned with how much credibility they would achieve. It's unfortunate.

    But on to the best $5 I ever spent at The Features/Ben Kweller/Walkmen show last night. Besides the crappy dentyne gum that was given out, I was so impressed with The Features who opened. They remind me very much of The Kings of Leon who I also adore. Their southern-rock, in your face, ball of fun was a great start to the night. I was pumped. I also had a bit of a crush on their drummer. That guy was crazy.

    Next was one of my favorite people in the world, Mr. Ben Kweller who is perhaps the most loveable indie rock star ever. Liz was quite the fan, stealing my lighter during his set to give him props. And contrary to her protest of posting the picture, I like to be controversial. It adds to my credibility.

    No new stuff from Mr. Loveable, but he did a great cover of Creedence Clearwater's "Have You Ever Seen The Rain." It could have possibly been my favorite moment of the night, however it was topped by another cover later. Needless to say, even with a dorky sweater, Ben Kweller never ceases to put on a great show. It was show #3 for me, and quite possibly my favorite. I could have done without the obnoixous guys behind me, but what can you do? Favorite songs: "How It Should Be (Sha Sha)," "No Reason," and "Wasted And Ready," (to name a few.)

    And last but definitely not least were the incredible The Walkmen who rocked the rest of the night away. Despite a couple sound issues for the first couple songs, Hamilton blows me away. He is perhaps one of the most unique vocalists I've heard today. He borders on screetching, and yet borders it well. They played a bunch of new stuff which sounded a bit different from the Bows + Arrows album. It had very much a calypso sound, and yet worked for the band. The best part of the night was The Kinks cover, "Monica." You can never go wrong with The Kinks. Never. But other highlights were "138th Street," "Bows +Arrows," (dedicated to Ham's mom in the back, how cute), and of course, "The Rat." That song never gets old.

    I have to say that picture is one of the weirdest one I've ever taken. I'm digging the lights; it makes Ham look like he's ascending to another world. Whoa, groovy man.

    Uh oh, the credibility police are going to come after me! My post was too long and I wasn't cutthroat or visceral enough. Shit man! Puh-leeze.


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