8 ways I discovered music that my daughter never will

I wrote earlier in the week about how my daughter’s experiences of Internet music will be very different from mine. This got me thinking of all the other ways I used to discover music that my daughter never will. 1. Top of the Pops The best thing about Top of the Pops was its’ egalitarianism. There was no attempt to be hip, but equally there … Continue reading 8 ways I discovered music that my daughter never will

What makes for a memorable gig?

I wrote a couple of weeks back about my poor memory, and in particular gigs I had forgotten about. In a way, it’s not surprising. I’ve no idea how many gigs I’ve attended in my life, but in my 11 years living in Manchester, it was a least a couple a month (often many more), and plenty in the years before or since. I reckon 500 would be a conservative estimate, not counting all the bands I’ve seen at festivals. So, no wonder a few have slipped my mind. It got me wondering though, what does make one gig more memorable than another? Here are a few of my suggestions.

1. A memorable support act.

You generally know what to expect from the headline act. They’ll play lots of songs you know and like, otherwise presumably you wouldn’t be going to see them. The fact that you enjoy the band you are there to see is not in itself memorable. But an unexpectedly superb support act is much more likely to stick in your mind. My favourite example is going to see the briefly successful post-hardcore band Hundred Reasons, and being blown away by their support band 65daysofstatic, a perfect fusion of Warp style electronica and heavy post-rock, not at all what I expected to hear. The headline act turned out to be a non-event, but I’ll never forget that gig. It can work the other way too. I once saw Atari Teenage Riot support Nine Inch Nails and they played 45 minutes of white noise, annoying the crowd to the extent that they were literally screaming “f**k off” at the top of their voices. I kind of enjoyed it personally, just because it was so extreme and the antithesis of everything a support act should do. And I will always remember it, whereas I remember nothing of Nine Inch Nails’ set at all.

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Conspiracy theories in music – why women never get the credit, but always the blame.

I recently finished reading a book on conspiracy theories. Before you get worried that I’m going to start telling you that lizards were responsible for 9/11 or that the Bilderburg group are to blame for my poor mobile phone reception, I should point out that the book in question was David Aaronovitch’s ‘Voodoo Histories‘, which tries to both debunk a number of well known conspiracy theories and explain why they are so widely believed.

This got me thinking about musical conspiracy theories. You know the kind of thing. Paul McCartney is actually dead. Tupac is actually alive. Courtney killed Kurt. Now I think these type of conspiracies are too ridiculous to be given much time (although a friend who actually knew Kurt and Courtney a little completely believes the latter one), but there is a kind of lower-level conspiracy theory which is more insidious and damaging. This is the theory that gets bandied about every time a successful female musician is in a relationship with a male musician, that he secretly wrote all of her songs.The two cases I particularly remember from my peak music press reading years in the 1990s were Hole and Elastica.

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Where you begin to colour me in

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the death of Trish Keenan, singer and songwriter of the band Broadcast. When she died, it was the first time in a long time I had been shocked by the death of a musician. It was not just that, at 42, she seemed too young to die, it was also the means of her death. Musicians who die young … Continue reading Where you begin to colour me in

Words like violence

A couple of things have got me thinking about misogyny in music recently. The first was this excellent Grantland article about Eminem. The jist of the article is that it was easier to justify Eminem’s seemingly misogynistic lyrics when he first appeared on the scene (“He doesn’t really mean it”, “It’s just a character”, “it’s only said for shock value” etc. etc.). However the fact … Continue reading Words like violence