Saturday, September 19, 2009

When bands compete, you win!

Olympic figure skating is weird.

Not the figure skating part. The Olympic part. Think about it. Here you have performers displaying breathtaking, beautiful movement, and piercing through the musical accompaniment is the voice of some commentator, informing us exactly how impressive or unimpressive we should find the last half lutz. At the end, judges hold up numbers: their quantitative assessment of the routine.

I'm not saying you can't regard skaters as athletes. It requires brutal training and inhuman stamina to do what they do. But so does ballet. Can you imagine announcers interrupting Prokofiev's score as the dancers leap and twirl their way through Romeo and Juliet? Can you imagine the Arts & Entertainment critics for your local newspapers holding up starred reviews as the performers take their final bow?

Also, as much as the judges might try to base their decisions on objective standards, figure skating doesn't lend itself to the emergence of clear winners. In baseball, the winning team is the one with the most runs at the end of the ninth inning. In track, the winner is whoever reaches the finish line first. You'll never hear a referee say, "The Giants, y'know, they scored the most downs this game, but it felt like they were just going through the motions. The passion, the gestalt wasn't there. We're gonna have to give this to the Ravens."

I think about things like this at times like this, when gearing up for tonight's Acoustic Battle of the Bands.

Musical competitions are kind of silly, for all of the reasons above. Musicians don't win because their songs or performances are better than everyone else's by some objective standard. They win because they get more friends to vote for them, or because the judges happen to like the kind of music they play.

So why do it, then? Why do Ron the Drummer and I enter Cinder Bridge into the Acoustic Battle every time?

Because it's fun. It's a helluva lot of fun. We get to do our thing for people who come for other bands and might not otherwise learn about us. We get to talk to the other performers. We get to hang out with people who love listening to music.

I've pondered ways one could make the judging of Battle of the Bands more fair. Some list of objective criteria that would force judges and voters to look beyond their personal preferences. I get about two seconds into this when I realize what a stupid idea that is. It's impossible to be completely objective when judging art (again, see above), and if you tried, you'd suck all the fun out of the event.

The point isn't winning (though winning makes it even more fun). The point is giving bands an excuse to get their music out there. The point is giving fans a chance to support the bands they love -- to get involved and have their opinions count.

So, we go in, we play, and we give the audience the same love we'd give for any other gig. If we don't make it to the next round, we don't assume it's because we suck. If we do make it, we realize it's not because we're better.

That said, we hope to qualify for round two, because then we get to play more. If you're in the vicinity of Tucson, please come see us and everyone else tonight.

Where: Old Town Artisans (201 N. Court Avenue, Tucson, AZ)
When: Saturday, September 19, 7 p.m. 'til whenever it ends

Hope to see you there!

* * *

Judge: "This blog post had a compelling start, with good, reasonably entertaining arguments. The segue into cinderkeys' personal experiences with Battle of the Bands, however, was weak, and she never brought the essay back to its original point. In the end, all of the early material comes across as an excuse to promote her band and tonight's Acoustic Battle. I give the post a 6.8."


DeppityBob said...

I thought this blog was enlightening, but dampened by the appearance of pander. It started with a wry, witty observation that taunted the intellectual palate, but when it appeared it might become overly effervescent, a warm rationality subsumed the reader. Though its familiar comforting images were laced with a whimsical foreknowledge of the speaker, the reality of its being merely a come-on for another appearance tainted the savor with a metallic tang. While I wouldn't use this review as an excuse to avoid seeing Cinder Bridge, I would certainly maintain the awareness that their lyrical sincerity is perpetuated for the purpose of some cynical self-promotion. I give this blog 3 out of 5 stars.

Billy said...

Ha! Thanks for including this link Cinder! Musicians, if they ever perform outside their house, must suffer the slings and arrows of judgment and I guess callous up to it all. Maybe the Olympics would be better if they included an Acoustic Battle of the Bands in the events...?