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Gimmick versus Emotion

Yesterday afternoon I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker about music, and what our tastes in music were. It started off with the age-old question: What CD(s) are always in your player, or in your center console pocket waiting to be played at any given second?
Top 5 CDs that are always in my truck:
1) Tool – Aenima
2) Counting Crows – August and Everything After
3) Top 10 Classical Baroque Songs
4) Nine Inch Nails – Fixed
5) Willie Nelson – The Red Headed Stranger
Hers was a smattering of discs that are are all currently popular on the Top 40 station, and I remember not a single one of them because they were all the same group to me. When I scoffed at her selection, she asked me why my choices were better than hers.
It’s plain and simple, to me. Music is about emotions. A song has to make me feel something in order for me to like it, and most likely it’s going to be a song that started out in someone’s notebook of poetry. Today’s pop music is without feeling. Cheryl Crow, Brittany Spears, Random_Top40_Group_04… they are all the same formulaic, nonoffensive music.
The Music Industry has often relied on gimmicks to get exposure to bands that don’t have the talent to make it alone. The biggest example that comes to mind is Kiss. I can’t stand their music. But they’re rock legends because of the face paint and the dragon boots. The 80’s were full of one-hit wonder bands that all had enough of a gimmick to get their one single overplayed.
It’s the bands that have emotion behind them that last through the years. The ones that aren’t in it for the money.
Last night a friend and I went up to Amos’ Southend in Charlotte to see three bands. (We really only went to see Combichrist, but there were two other bands playing as well.) We got there a little late, so the first band was already up.
I didn’t catch the band’s name, but I think I’m better off for it. The sound was punk, which usually appeals to me but last night it was bad punk. The main attraction, though, was a grown man wearing a pink bunny suit and holding a fake meat cleaver made of tinfoil. The suit was liberally doused in fake blood. This man did not sing. He simply danced around and shook his cleaver meaningfully. (At the end, he started pulling his suit up to show his pasty-white chicken breast, not that I’m all that tanned.) I was thankful when the music stopped.
The second show act Combichrist. This is the music I came for. Now I get to sound like a hypocrite. This guy usually dresses up for his shows, whether it’s fake blood pouring from his mouth or his face made up in a skull image. The music is good enough, though, to live beyond the goth-punk gimmick. In face, last night he came out in no make-up. He had a decent set, but it was short because he wasn’t the headliner. It was a good show for the start of a new tour, and I can’t wait to see him again.
The headliner, Genitorturers, was sex wrapped in bad, bad music. The lead singer, while wearing no less than three vibrators on her belt, had a great voice. She just chose not to use it, preferring to scream and grate out her lyrics while gyrating. Now I like sex just as much as the next guy, but it’s the oldest gimmick in the world, and we men just need to smarten up and stop buying into it. It’s hurting our music scene.
So what’s next? Tomorrow night there is a Pixies cover band called So Hush Hush that I’m thinking about checking out. I hear they have a hottie on the bass…

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