Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Why I don't intend to write about local music on this blog

(Written in re: the first night of the Vox Festival. See the previous entry, below, for context).

Damn, Kate. I'm sorry. It's bad form to walk out on any performance. I mean, it's okay, I guess, if you really gotta go to the washroom or something, but we didn't. Liz was really tired and she did have to get up at six in the morning and she and Blake had to make the ride back to Maple Ridge and she is a difficult woman to say no to, as I imagine you might be, yourself, so perhaps you'll understand... But we could've stayed, regardless. I feel bad. Particularly since I got in free, and am a volunteer with the festival. Like I should've been more loyal, y'know? Local artist, and a woman at that -- how many female avant-gardists are there, anyhow? I could show some support for the few that are around, particularly if they're from this city (Actually, that was more Liz's guilt-trip than mine, but it's a respectable one). Really, I did like some of what you were doing. The first Campfire Songs thing -- I liked that one! And sometimes the subtler sounds you made blended nicely with Mr. Samworth's guitar effects. It would be interesting to try to articulate in detail why your performance overall didn't work for me, when superficially at least you and Paul Dutton (whose performance I greatly enjoyed, and who actually did enjoy what you were doing, unlike me) were doing stuff that was of a piece... But really I'd rather just keep my mouth shut and say I'm sorry I snuck out. Hope the rest of the show went well.

I did get one really important thing from observing my reactions to this evening. I've realized, to my shock, that I think there's an off chance someone somewhere (other than my friends and family) might actually read this blog someday. I had never really considered the possibility, or that my awareness of it might change how I wanted to present things. There's this unexpected feeling of responsibility suddenly settling on my shoulders: since I'm in a public venue, and since I intend fully to write about music on this site, I feel like I've got to weigh my words with a little bit more care than I'd initially planned on using when it comes to the local scene.

There's stuff I've been itching to express, stuff that pisses me off, though, that's hard to stifle -- taboo disloyal opinions about some of the performers here, complaints and whimpers and pleas; from wanting to beg Dylan van der Schyff to hit a little less forcefully to wishin' Peggy Lee would plink less and play more (sorry, Peggy! Actually, I own two of your CDs, really), I got all sorts of stuff I could run off at the mouth about. Maybe it would be good for someone to say some o' this in public. I seldom enjoy gigs by local musicians; perhaps a bit of diplomatic griping might serve to...

I mean, part of me just wants to screech out the most non-acceptable things, y'know? That Vancouver is a friggin' backwater and would do well to admit this to itself; some local artists seem to have the most grotesquely inflated opinions of the worth of what they're doing, presumably because their standards of comparison are so, uh, local. I mean, our inferiority complex has made morons and rogues of us... Even the population stats that we calculate the city's size on are based on lies, designed solely to push us into the top 5 list of Canadian cities, to put us on the map, as it were (because nothin' else will; trees and mountains do not a cultural mecca make). It's nice that we have aspirations, I guess, but we also have an abundance of mediocrity out there, and the worst offenders take themselves so seriously, are so precious (thanks for the adjective, Blake: it's a good one) about what they do that y'just want to slap them. Tell' em to go spend a weekend in New York or London or Tokyo or...

But who am I kidding? Ranting in this vein would do little more than to get me looked at in a nasty way by the few musicians out there who are actually trying to do something different and new; it would make me enemies and few friends and invite the question, who the hell do I think I am, anyhow? I mean, who cares if I, some shmuck ESL teacher, think the scene here is too small, too incestuous, too vain, too full of itself; if --

So you know what? The local scene is its own problem, not mine. I'm gonna fall back on the old saw about not sayin' anything if you got nothin' nice to say -- or occasionally enthusing about local music that I do like (I think the Pretty Sad Band were the last gig I really had any fun at; there's a band that understands the virute of humility). Sure, it would be great if our one real jazz club dusted off its notions of jazz and acknowledged free, funky, and avant-garde takes on the form; if there were more places where interesting music happened (note to self: must check out Blim); if people woke up and realized that it takes more than the pretense that one is an artiste to make a concert enjoyable. But there's only so much that I'm prepared to take on. It sucks that what this probably means is that I'll spend most of my blog time writing about visiting performers, instead of homespun ones... But so be it.

You know, I like living in Vancouver. Really. And it's been a good year, concert-wise. I'll keep y'all posted if I actually hear something from this town I like. Who knows, maybe tomorrow at the Vox Festival...

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