Writing on the internet is asking for trouble. If you’re lucky, nobody reads you. If you’re not, the plebs start showing up in numbers, crying about how you’ve been mean to their favourite group. Then you get the legit crazies – “Sir, your post was insightful & very super – care to enlarge your penis?” Once you’ve ploughed your way through all of this, you’re left with the rare, but welcome, sane reaction from someone who isn’t so damaged that they can’t form a sentence without showing themselves up as an imbecile.
As a matter of principle, I leave these mobs to fight their inner battles out for themselves in the comments sections; however, there have – against the odds – been a few readers who have written in with things that are worth thinking about, responding to, or just remembering. Here are some – though not all – of them, then, and my two cents as well.
On the post about the NME in India being a vapid piece of marketing, lacking taste, courage, knowledge of their subject, writing talent, or editorial direction, Pride & Glory wrote,
“It’s not exactly breaking news that that the music business has become defragmented [sic] and best places to get your music news first is now Facebook and Youtube rather than the big old media establishments like NME and Rolling Stone. But what big media has always had over the bloggers and local scenesters is the ability to make a band big. Which is why I think India should embrace NME rather than hate and troll. Because there would be nothing cooler than seeing a group of gangly college kids from Delhi with a guitar and a mike going global.”
Part of my answer to this, the whole of which lies below the original article, is,
“The mainstream media taking an interest in local happenings is very good news for everybody. None of this, however, means that the NME’s shallow and lazy writing needn’t be pointed out. This isn’t quite the same as trolling for the sake of it, and certainly not anything as naive as an “anti-mainstream” stance.
I would love – and I can’t stress this enough – to see a “proper” magazine do a good job of covering India’s bands.”
It’s true too, that I would. Except there aren’t any. Yet. Don’t settle for the sub-standard in your enthusiasm.
And don’t read too much into short-lived, superficial endorsements: in our time, small pop groups don’t “go global” because they get five stars in the local-music section of the NME Third World. No label exec or international club-circuit hustler takes these small, patronising pats on the back seriously. Neither will they until it becomes evident that corporate music magazines apply the same high standards – ha – to local music that they do to name acts.
In other news, a general-purpose post on small groups needing to set up their own mini-scenes for themselves attracted this comment from Recidivist:
“Bombay needs another place where bands can just get together and set up a cheap gig by themselves, without major sponsors. I guess B69 filled the niche, but it’s on a hiatus as well now.”
Elsewhere, Suman Sridhar said,
“What we have here is an entertainment industry. As an artist, I get told what to play all the time, and failing to do so, unbooked.” (More Suman Sridhar here.)
There isn’t anything wrong with two completely different industries sharing a relationship built on the promise of mutual gain. The pairing of small-scale original music with high-life F&B, though, isn’t anything as cosily symbiotic as that: the high-life industry looks to attract people who will pay to be pampered. By holding the money and the influence, they can – and will – end up condemning artists to being restaurant entertainment for their punters.
Artists need breathing room and sympathetic audiences. Providing these isn’t in the interests of the industry that strings them along.
On that subject, Iyesha, on the Dotted Line, rightly feels that,
“…it is sad that there is no threat, absolutely no threat, to this one large scene from a bunch (or many bunches) of sinfully talented boys from somewhere, who perform outside Vasai station or some such (there have been these). Angry boys who say fuck you on stage dont say fuck you to their patrons.
And you must admit – while it is not a cultural anomaly for an artist to be dependent on a system of patronages, it is an extreme case here. People with more ideas on marketing than on music are the patrons here. Somehow, the circulation of tracks made and shared the guerilla way (guerilla can also be large scale) seems a preferred choice in this context.”
As long as the “scene” is run by “event managers” and “media specialists” and their ilk, we can fully expect more mass cluelessness. Bands can’t, and won’t, give them the finger because this is their only hope. It’s not just the circulation of tracks the guerilla way: we could also really do with gigs done the guerilla way. It would do every artist a world of good.
The point, though, is that it’ll still take people and it’ll still take some level of organisation to be anything more than a niche bit of fun, assuming of course that that’s an ambition. And these people can’t be the boneheads who put together overpriced displays of bloat like that rich-kids-playground thing that was the Bangalore Oktoberfest of last… November. That stuff doesn’t stick.
The circuit, in its current form, is untenable and unsustainable. You can either make the most of it as it stands, or you can choose to build a whole new, alternate scene up from scratch, one which tries to connect artists with their rightful audiences, isn’t susceptible to pretence, picks merit over social standing, is focussed enough to know its resources and its limitations, and tries to make the most of all of that. I’m pro-Poor Parties. I’m for the latter.
sf has a hell of an idea about Bangalore’s favourite car-crash and the very hairy man who dominates their show: “I recommend glittering up the beard. The sparkles would keep the females in the crowd transfixed, unable to tear their eyes away from the band.”
ZZ Top concurs: “I’d sleep with *him* in a heartbeat. I’ll bet he tastes like beard (divine!)”
In the retard stakes, Chalukya’s Pom-Poms comes in at the top by chiming in on the Shakey Rays review with “this band sounds too Indian.”
The only correct answer to this is, “your face sounds too Indian.” Three cheers to Turd Blossom for nipping this one in the bud.
From the same post, we also get “Self masturbation is no substitute for substandard music journalism“, to which there’s no response, really.
Turd Blossom, again, on Thermal & a Quarter’s John Lennon show: “Whole thing fucking stank.” Absolutely right, it did.
And, finally, we have this frothing-at-the-mouth classic from Xaugie:
“Whoever has written this “critique”, certainly has had “pure reason” back the hell out of his ass. The great escape of that pressure couldn’t have been less stinky than the experience of trying to decipher the verbiage that follows the prophetic preamble of ‘words fail me’.”
To this, I say: suck it up, son.