in Performance Critiques, Uncategorized

Ken Montgomery, Jeck + Reiderer, 9/13/12 – 8:00pm

Dear Ken,

As the folks from used to say

radio is the new vinyl.

And 8-track tape, is that like old vinyl? Or what? I can’t help wondering “What is 8-track tape in relation to vinyl?” having seen both of them re-purposed back to back last night at your show.

Did the faces in the crowd give you any clue? (It was remarkable how Mike Harding’s announcement during the introduction that the audience should  feel free to “stand up, walk around and come see the performers at work” sent people forth drifting. Like a cloud of moths, they slowly circled towards your candle-light of process. “What’s he doing?”)

It looked like all the moths loved your  8-track Magic! Some of the people, sitting in the pews, did not. “It’s like torture!” said a woman behind me as little snips of Led Zeppelin emerged from the noise.  I laughed, remembering Kenny Goldsmith saying that Stairway to 8-Track Heaven always provoked listener complaint calls, even at open-minded WFMU. Why do the same sounds cause some pleasure and others pain? Do you have a theory, Ken?

I have a theory: Popular music is not just music–it is how we understand life-time. The fragments of rock music teased our brains, which had to filled in the blanks between familiar melodies and sounds. Whether one experiences pleasure, or displeasure, depends upon how trained one’s neurons were, whether or not the gaps could be filled. If your ears were nursed on classic rock, then the songs were playing just fine, and the spaces and noise were like a tickling massage in the mind. I saw this: in the audience, some people were actually singing along with Led Zeppelin. They couldn’t help it. It was involuntary, as natural as breathing. This kind of collage lives really in the mind of the listener, activating memory, and so the experience is quite individual. Each generation will react differently: Beatles become Zeppelin become Bowie, but then the generations fragment.

What do you think?


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