Sunday, September 27, 2009

Acoustic Battle: What we learned

Last week I reported that Cinder Bridge didn't make it to the second round of Acoustic Battle of the Bands. One benevolent commenter offered words of encouragement, saying that whatever we learned from the experience made it worthwhile.

I do think the experience was worthwhile. We had a good time, met some new musicians/listeners and reconnected with old ones, and got our act in front of people who wouldn't have otherwise heard us.

But a learning experience? Hmmm.

As it happens, some musicians who participated in the previous ABOB requested that judges write comments instead of just ranking the bands. They felt the feedback would help them improve. So this year, we got feedback.

Was it helpful? You decide.

Judge #1

Overall -- Nice tunes -- tough to pull off as a 2 piece. [Cinder Bridge is a duo consisting of me (vocals, keyboard) and a drummer.] I might add a sequence[r] part for more texture.

Judge #2

Great lyrics and sound. I wasn't that drawn in to their music. The keyboard threw me off, not acoustic.

Judge #3

[No comments, but mediocre ratings.]

So, to sum up:
  1. We should be less acoustic.
    (Using a sequencer probably would have disqualified us for Acoustic Battle of the Bands, but I'll assume he meant for regular gigs.)

  2. We should be more acoustic.
    (Next time we'll hire a U-Haul and bring my upright piano. If we can get the thing on and off the stage in time, we'll be a huge hit.)

  3. Sometimes people will think you're doing a lot of stuff right, but they won't be into you anyway.
    (An important insight, but we pretty much knew that already.)
Actually, I'm inclined to take the sequencer guy seriously. If he thinks our sound is too thin, maybe we should try to acquire a bassist and/or guitarist. Then again, other listeners hearing us for the first time have told us -- with no prompting -- that they're impressed by how full and rich our sound is with just the two of us. Their opinions aren't more valid than that judge's, but they're not less valid either.

As much as we'd love to use this year's ABOB feedback to learn and grow and improve, we don't quite know what to do with it.

Oh well. Did I mention that we had a good time?


Jannie Funster said...

I bet your sound is full and rich.

Just keep writing songs that excite you, take them to songwriters critique sessions to see what ones resonate most with folks.

My two cents worth.

cinderkeys said...

We like to think so. :)

It's been ages since I've gone to a critique session. Time has been too short to find or start one. What I'd really like to do is figure out how to easily do scratch recordings, then put them online. It's easier to find time for asynchronous critiquing.

EJ said...

I laughed out loud with the U-Haul and upright piano comment. I'm guessing it's doable, but not practical. I don't want to be pushing a piano up the aisle onto to the stage. But then again, I can see a whole new competition: timed set-up and playing. lol

cinderkeys said...

Ha! I can see it now. Every band gets 20 minutes to set up and play. The ones with the best roadie skills might actually have time to play a song before moving everything off again.