With the direction of popular music on the radio, it’s a challenge (for some) to not be using the latest new “sample” or “sound gimmick”. Just listening to (repetitive) new music on any pop radio station allows me to roll my eyes frequently. I won’t name names, but I’m sure we all have our favorites. For example, a song that uses that repetitive drum sample over and over. This recorded journey is then carried over to “live shows”, where any given sample or pre-recorded gimmick is set up to be released at a certain moment. Several times. Repeatedly. This might be attractive to some, but it sure gets boring for me and people I’ve chatted to about this. For other concert goers, they’re content with a laptop and a singer for the night. Add some expensive lighting and a big sound system, and you have yourself a concert that sounds exactly like the song you heard on the popular radio station your were listening to. That’s because it is – only louder.
Even smaller/unknown acts are using samples and prerecordings in their shows, so that they sound as close to the original as possible. It’s a challenge for me to listen (and watch) a multi-member dance band that has a drummer wearing headphones to a click track because the song has certain recordings that must be used. IE; A sampled prerecorded 3-part horn section, but there are no horns to be seen for miles around. That being said, people have their reasons for going to those shows (like dancing), and I’m fine with that. The “live performance” isn’t really 100% “live” though is it? My interpretation is like real people with some fake news thrown in. A little deceptive maybe? It’s mostly a risk-free safe bet though for a fun night of dancing – unless the computer with the prerecorded tracks stops working. If that happens, it probably becomes an entirely different night. Does one member quietly and nervously utter, “What are we going to play now?”. Maybe some bands have a contingency planned set list? Hmmm. Maybe. So what? Overall, I guess it would become boring when most of the songs contain prerecorded sections in some form or another. Might as well hire a DJ at that point, and guess what: Many venues are doing just that.
For most (let’s call them “sample bands”), I’ve seen a rise in the lack-luster of so called “live” performances. For some members in a sample band, it looks like they are on a job that they don’t want to be at. People are going through the motions so they can collect their dough and split. Routine. How does one build a relationship with their audience? Related to the above in attitude, I recently heard tale of a local single guitarist that actually posted on social media that he was going to a certain venue to perform, but it was his least favourite place to go, and he was only doing it for the money. True story. As it happened, prior to his arrival, the word got out to the venue, and they contacted the “musician”. He was told to not bother coming, and was asked to remove the post from his social media page. Done.
So to cross-reference my bio page and identify the truth and organic nature of my profession on a personal level, I don’t use samples. Nothing is pre-recorded. The fact is, everything I perform is live and recorded as I perform it: Percussion. Bass. Vocals. Guitar. I rely on the moment, and the unique organic quality of sound from my custom acoustic guitar – which is amplified only. I use no prerecorded gimmicks, and attempt to create a reasonable facsimile of any song I create. I believe that the music I create is original at the time you hear it. This means that no two performances are alike, although my interpretation of any song will produce my take of remnants from the original artists’ performance, like a guitar lick or bass part. Have no fear though, I’m playing it live – it’s not an unperformed sample.
Another big chancy thing is relating to the audience to see what they are liking (or disliking). When “live”, it’s a musical relationship that lasts from the time I step on stage, to the last song I perform. No premeditated set list. Just a guitar, 400 songs, and a plethora of lyrics. Any relationship takes work and practice, yes? This isn’t to say that mistakes aren’t made during a performance (from time to time, lol), but it’s more about dealing with any so called mistake, in real time, and the perception moving forward. Afterwards, music appreciators and musicians will usually ask questions about the gear I use and that’s fine, but truth be told, it’s about practice, technique, and the live performance that assists to create a unique sound, which in turn, should provide ample opportunity for relationship.