Tuesday, June 12, 2007

For Rock

Went to my first rock gig in about twenty years on Sunday to see this lot. Ludicrous behaviour at my age, I freely confess. My excuse is my girlfriend made me go.

It was loud, brash, vulgar, unsubtle - and absolutely brilliant. It reminded me why I used to like rock in the first place and why Chris Dillow was so wrong when he attempted to answer the question, "Why are rock fans so stupid?"

It wasn't just that the question itself may not be justified in the first place. Or his strange idea that Coldplay has something to do with rock. Or the underestimation of rock musicianship. Or the overestimation of the average folk musician's skills, for that matter.

No, it's the failure to understand why people enjoy some kinds of live music in the first place, which I think is illustrated in the following sentence:
"Rock music gains much of its power from the communal experience. It needs a crowd."
But what's wrong with the communal experience? And how does he imagine it came to be a communal experience in the first place? Because it's fun - in a way folk music or jazz can't be. It's difficult to put into words but it's the difference between going to the cinema and going to the opera. With the opera you have to sit with a bunch of phoneys who self-consciously laugh at the jokes - even though they can't possibly be enjoying them at a spontaneous level. Who wouldn't rather go to the flicks? It's so much more relaxing.

Folk music can be a bit like this, I think. I quite like some folk music but I really can't be doing with sharing a room with quite so many people who you just know are inwardly congratulating themselves on how authentic the experience is. (Authenticity measured here in the traditional sense - by how few people actually enjoy the art form in question.) But it isn't really. Chris Dillow says unlike rock musicians, most folk musicians didn't go to private school. To which I respond, who gives a shit? The truth is, the educational background of its practitioners notwithstanding, most folk don't like folk because folk, despite its pretensions to the contrary, isn't really for the folk at all.

I'm struggling to put this into words, like I said, but I think I'm a bit closer. Rock concerts: where everyone is too busy having a good time to give a fuck where anybody went to school. Yeah, I think that's it.

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