September 6, 2008

Music Excites Me

Posted in Music tagged , , , at 3:27 pm by Andrew McMillen

The quantity and variety of music available in the current market is staggering. I listen to a lot of artists, but these represent a thin slice of the pie graph. On a local level, a national level, an international level – there’s a lot of music I’m not aware of.

This isn’t a bad thing. I’m not worried. I’m recommended new artists all the time, thanks to the rich network of friends I’ve developed as a result of my position as an extroverted music fan. I’m happy to slowly cultivate my tastes and preferences at my own pace, but these recommendations are much appreciated. 

My network of fellow music fans and my position as a live music writer present ample opportunities to witness and consume the output of musicians. I watch and hear local Brisbane bands while they’re still finding their collective voice and tone. I’m employed to critically assess their performances, and – while consciously attempting to not appear too delusional or hubristic – it’s nice to imagine that my words and thoughts have a perceptible effect on the music scene, both local for Rave and national for FasterLouder.

Of course, the web-based nature of these publications transcends geographic boundaries. Which is also pretty cool.

I rarely consider the act of being published when I’m writing and editing my articles. I’m far more concerned with achieving a clear and consistent tone. 

I don’t consider what I do to be all that skilled, or talented. I may spend a couple of hours crafting a piece, but once it’s submitted, it’s released from my mind. I acknowledge that there is some degree of skill attached to writing coherently and at-length about an event which may be attended by hundreds or thousands. But I don’t sit around self-congratulating.

I suppose that critical thinking is the single most important element of what I do. Not just when analysing a band’s sound and style. But when taking a step back from the noise and observing my fellow attendees.

My frequent concert attendance allows great opportunities to people-watch in a relatively closed environment. Here’s people who have, in the majority of cases, parted with a market-nominated fee so that they can inhabit this environment for a couple of hours. They have forgone the opportunity cost of every other potential activity. Which is why I’m always intrigued when watching paying concertgoers talk to their friends throughout performances.

One of the most affecting performances I’ve witnessed this year occurred late last month. Local band Skinny Jean supported fellow Brisbanites The Boat People. This was singer and keyboardist Heidi Minchin’s last show with the band. I hadn’t heard Skinny Jean before the night, but had read some encouraging words written by fellow Brisbane street press contributors.

For a few songs, I stood entranced. Minchin delivered a vocal solo that raised my neckhairs and brought tears to my eyes. Holy shit. These are the moments that I love. Needless to say, I bought the band’s EP immediately afterwards, and wrote positively about their set. This is a video comprising the twin highlights of that night’s performance – first the excellent Anhedonia, then Anti0kie, the song which features Minchin’s vocal solo. 

I didn’t intend to cite specific examples when I began writing this entry. It developed organically. It felt right to reference a band whose performance moved me.

Music as a social object. It’s a concept that I think about often, and one that I will return to in future entries.

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2 Comments

  1. globalized said,

    Andrew,

    I really like to see that you are starting to develop a theme, or at least some recurring elements, for your blog. I’m trying to start off the process of doing the same, and it is obvious that you have been able to channel enthusiasm and passion into a topic about which you can express yourself very clearly.

  2. Thanks, Glenn! I really appreciate your comment.


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