Big Eyed Rabbit – Beatnik’s, Worcester – 1/17/14

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This is exactly the kind of show I was looking for. Beatnik’s is about 15 minutes from my place and they always seem to book bands that just sound great live. Big Eyed Rabbit was no exception and I was swaying to the beat for a good hour and a half. The guitarist played 4 different guitars, starting with a black and white flying V, to a cherry/brown Gibson Les Paul, a dirty sounding acoustic, and finally a 2-3? string cigar box guitar. The aesthetics alone of playing on such different guitars, really made it a full experience especially being a guitarist myself. Initially I thought the band might just be ripping on whats trendy again, blues driven rock with harmonized vocals like The Black Keys. But then as their set progressed, I realized the players on stage had a much wider range than just a condensed blues pop structure ending at the 3:30 mark on the radio.

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The crowd was pretty receptive and grew organically throughout the night. I think the groups ability to start out with a pretty standard blues format where a guitar lick repeats 4-5 times, bass pokes in, and then drums slowly build into a constant rhythm; and then morph into a sustained and interesting jam, is what kept it interesting throughout. For me, hearing blues driven music live is the only way to experience it. Drummers have so much more freedom to accent hits live and let the kit really breathe on it’s on. Also hearing a 15-30 Watt, 1 speaker guitar amp mic’d is infinitely better than any recording being fed through speakers in a car/at home.

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I suppose at 30, my tastes for live music have become more refined. I rarely see live shows (1-2 X a month) and listen to a few tracks by any given band before I decide to drive out in the cold and pay the cover. But this also makes for a better experience when I do go out, because I’ve done a little research. I have no interest to see a punk, hardcore, or speed metal show. I’ll let the 15-27 year old crowd lap it up and expend their youthful rage. When I see a show live, I want to see people in the crowd smiling, dancing, and just enjoying the night. Doom, gloom, and forced weirdness/absurdity is a major drag to me at this point of my life. I’ve also been listening to a lot more electronic, trance, and dance music in general as of late, so that could explain it. But I definitely love seeing a guitarist that has obviously been at it for some time. It even feels like I’m being transmitted some musical information, that hopefully I can use in my own playing down the line.

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So if you live in Worcester or the surrounding area, definitely check out Beatnik’s on a Friday or Saturday night. The club has a kind of hole in the wall feel, but that kind of makes it feel like you’re in on some underground secret.

Band situation meets job prospect

I’ve invested over 3 years of my time, energy, money, and ears to play in an original band. Being in any band, you realize that there will be a series of lulls and series of thrills. Lulls, as “real-life” intervenes and doesn’t allow you to rehearse or write as frequently as you’d like. And then the thrills happen when a series of new songs seemingly come out of nowhere and you realize you have a few months ahead of you, to fine tune them and make them stage ready. These mini projects are the things that get you through long work days. These small unique packets of new, get you out of bed.

Recently I turned down a job offer, that would have paid more than my current job, but the hours would have interfered with playing in this band. So for a few more dollars an hour I would essentially be forfeiting the 3 plus years I had put into music with two other individuals and I couldn’t justify doing that. This band is my theoretical baby, my theoretical 2nd baby, and my theoretical mortgage rolled into one. It’s the only thing outside of the humdrum that is work, I want to invest my time in. Or I should generally say, the pursuit of being a formidable musician is as important to me, as kids/mortgage/marriage is to the majority. To sit back and imagine where we could be in just another 2 years, excites me and makes me want to do whatever I can to keep things go accordingly as they’ve been and not throw a huge curve ball into the situation via a new job.

“Distorted Chord Fatigue” or something else?

“Distorted Chord Fatigue or something else?”


 
Cover bands and DJs are a kind of spreading virus that seeks to numb our ears and make our tastes complacent, tired, and worn out. This is all just first-hand experience, as I’ve played in various original and cover bands over the last 10 years, throughout central MA.
 
Cover bands/tribute acts represent a consistent dollar figure that club/bar owners can easily rely on, as the now tired mantra, post-economic collapse of 2008 goes, “but the economy is so bad right now”. It’s also repeated in many other walks of life and playing it safe has never seemed so appealing due to this mentality. You have your Chinese restaurants, your bars with several karaoke nights, and tribute bands that sometimes pay tribute to acts that are recently retired or even currently touring. Then there are several bars, turning towards the Dance/DJ format, which is really emerging as “pop music” among 18-30 year olds. I’m in no way knocking DJs as there are plenty of original, creative, and dynamic local artists that deserve recognition in this field. This is more a reflection on where the original rock bands fit into the scene or if there truly is even a scene left to fit into?
 
Most people want to drunkenly grab the mic and belt out some Journey or dance to some Lynrd Skynrd while sucking down Mai Tais at Chopsticks or Singapore.  But where are the days of the tried and true rock band that could play in the suburbs and build up a grassroots following? The larger cities have been and still remain the only areas to play to a large group of people on a consistent basis. Rock music has narrowed its focus towards a younger audience, playing to college aged kids, and capitalizing on that energy and expendable cash/college loans.
 
I’ve played in an original rock band called “Miranda: for the last 2 plus years around Central MA. I see that a large amount of the people getting into the music, are actually musicians themselves, or are even playing that night with us. There aren’t a lot of casual fans there, just to check out live music. Everybody is either a friend of the band, a friend of a friend, or related to the band member in some way. Maybe original rock music is just in this part of the cycle, where it feels more like a hobby among friends?
 
It also comes down to being 29 and playing original music in the suburbs. I play it safe as well, as I could hypothetically move closer to a larger city and pursue music more directly. I’d say for me it’s the act of creation that is much more of an orgasmic payoff, then a few hundred bucks per gig or an overly curious fan base. However this naive approach can fade too, the longer you live in the great United States of America.
 
Our society is so wrapped up in rapid progression and if progressive dollars are not tied to a creative act, and then we view it as failing or falling behind; Similar to the notion of a job requiring college students or entry-level people to have 4-5 years of relative work experience!? The contradiction here is obvious, but applies to a club, demanding that you bring in 20-30 people at your first gig, which may possibly be 40-50 miles away from your hometown.
 
You also have to consider “unlimited choice” and the ability to get all of your musical needs met via your Iphone, Pandora, Spotify, XM, and the list goes on. Pre-internet, let’s say 1995 and before, people wanted more than what was on the radio, and had a more flexible attitude towards discovering new acts. I think there was a level of open-mindedness that was more rampant and ironically, as we evolve as a people, maybe we’re becoming less open-minded and more into the idea of having a “closed circuit” approach towards entertainment and media?
 
We all plug in our favorite bands into Pandora and a self-generating web of related artists can play on for us for as long as we like. Why step away from the screen? We have the unique ability to be our own DJ, minus the commercials.
 
Why surround yourself with strangers, an unpredictable environment, and pay too much for drinks? The “I” generation model is taking over and it’s much more preferable to hear music when you want to and to know exactly what you’re getting into beforehand. This is similar to the online dating model which seeks to pinpoint everything down in such a precise way, essentially acting as the human resources department for your heart/mind. Leaving anything to chance seems like a waste of time and too imprecise.
 
This current state of live original music isn’t of course all doom and gloom. It forces bands and musicians to truly bypass the tired routes of promotion that acts/clubs have been using for the last 50 years. It forces musicians to be just as much businessmen as they are creative entities. It forces your band to create your own, self-sustaining musical empire, without a staff of people that are mostly in place to leach off of your talent and success anyways.

An Introduction to “Miranda”

-Intro-

A sweltering summer night, sometime in the summer of 2009, a group of individuals conspired to meet together on 50 Lawrence Street. The city: Leominster. The state: Inconsequential. SF had learned that this musical foray was going to transpire, via an internet service grown popular and known know as “the facebook.” AA had notified SF of the peculiar happening between himself and SS. The two had previously met through a website, it’s name: Inconsequential. For over a year, the two would meet in this Lawrencian basement and mash their musical makeup together, until a pretty girl of a song was churned out. At least in terms of bass and percussion. After several unsuccessful tryouts with guitar practitioners, the two were left dumbfounded. Where to turn? Well why not call on a long past, childhood friend to see what the cut of his sonic gib might be?

SF had returned from the arid shores of Arizona and was hungry as ever to join an already developed band. Too old to start something organically, at least too old in his own 26 year old eyes, AA had emailed SF through the already mentioned FB and SF’s creative tingle bone was stroked. On this hot August night, SF ended up at this Lawrencian basement and joined in with the others. SF had previously jammed with AA here, but these get togethers were loose, unfocused, and the occasional little mermaid cover jingle would show itself. AA’s parents were often annoyed of this random noise and the sessions were often cut short, but laughs did ensue, promising something more meaningful for the future.

Skip ahead from 2009 to December of 2009. A few rough cuts had been assembled and the band nervously took the stage at the Lucky Dog in Worcester. The same stage the Stones had once graced, as they warmed up for a much larger gig at the nearby Centrum. At this time SF was struggling with a raw, trebly, solid state sound, beamed from his Fender 212 amp. AA had really only ever played one show in a band setting before and was clearly in a strange headspace before going on. SS seemed confident, but rightly so, as he had written all of the songs. How would the audience react to this all instrumental trio? Would it bore them or would their heads bob like ostriches in heat? This not knowing, added to the nervous behaviors, that were dulled by ales and straight whiskey shots. A large smattering of family and friends appeared at this show, curious to see what this group “Miranda” was really all about. Would they sing songs about them? Would they represent their families in the most honorary way? Or would they witness a side of these band members that they previously were unaware of? Too many questions as this band of 3 stalked onto the stage. The sound guy was high and resembled a grungier Ryan Gosling. The show went off and was a success, at least as good as these songs were going to sound in their earliest of incarnations. End Chapter 1.

http://www.facebook.com/mirandaband

http://www.facebook.com/mirandasongs