I was scanning the back of a fiction novel today and noticed a critic who claimed the author whose work he was trumpeting was not like the rest of the countless works that “clutter” our lives today. I thought it was a magnificent image of what most of the work out there is: clutter. The microcosm of this argument will lie in my recent experience at Velour in Provo.
I’m glad that people are creative and want to make music, I really am. I’m glad that there are venues for people to express their talent. Nevertheless, we have to call a spade a spade. Both times I’ve attended Velour the music has been mundane. Our first artist had glimpses of originality, but reverted back to the timeless classic cliches of pain, love, regret, and paternal disconnect (my father left me, I wouldn’t leave my son, boy becomes a man, etc. etc.). It is true that we all relate to these epic compartments of life, but for the love of God do we have to have them delivered in such bland and over-trodden ways? Artist, give us something fresh! Tell us about your pain without using the word pain! Show us ways your heart was broken, don’t tell us it is so!
My next critique was made clear by the second band. Though talented, these young men tried to showcase every musical genre and give every band member solo time in each song. Jazz-like improvisation music is fine, but when you go from chill out folk music, to hard core rock out, then back to jazz quiet, then rock with a solo and dance and mosh on the stage, then back to intimate whisper, its kind of ridiculous. Pick a genre and tempo for each song, and let that be enough. Play a soft song, then a loud song, then a soft song. You can even mix up your set with fast and slow tempos, but don’t put every tempo into every song. Then you are just amateur. What makes a good set is a band that can get a crowd worked up with one song, then take them down with the next, and then back up again. It all shouldn’t span a single tune.
Lastly, I think it has become cliche’ to define oneself as a “non-conformist”. What makes one a non-conformist? Lately, I believe there is a certain way of dress that could be classified as such: black rimmed glasses, tapering pants, shaggy hair, etc. Thus, in trying to be a non-conformist one conforms. It is a paradox easily remedied by not trying to fit in by non conforming.