Sunday, March 7, 2010

What's Your Musical Motivation?

I go to so many music shows because I love the excitement of seeing a band perform live. But as I was reminded tonight, everyone has their own agenda when it comes to why they're in the audience and it's naive of me to assume it's because they feel the way I do.

Last night I went to the Camel to see Marionette, one of my very favorite local bands and with good reason. Their sound is unlike most with enough of a varied appeal to grab many kinds of music lovers. In the 2+ years I've been attending their shows, I've gotten to know most of the band members and concluded that they're such interesting musicians because they're such interesting people. As a bonus, yesterday was multi-instrumentalist Marshall's birthday, adding another reason to celebrate the evening.

A photographer there shooting the crowd came over to take a picture. I was sitting with Kerri and Adam from Marionette, so I opted out of the snapshot and afterwards the photog sat down to get their names and chat. She pointed out a couple who came to the show only because the band was described as "indie folk." Apparently, they'd said that there just wasn't any indie folk in rva. And while I'm certainly pleased to hear of anyone who comes out for live music, all I can say is wtf? No indie folk here? That's like saying there was no hardcore here in the 90s.

As proof that we have an extremely active indie folk scene here, I would offer up Jonathan Vassar and Speckled Bird, Josh Small, Alison Self (and, when they're all in the same country, Arise Sweet Donkey!), the Colloquial Orchestra, the Low Branches, the Florentines...don't make me go on and on. No indie folk scene, indeed.

Since I'd taken the very front booth, I had lots of good visitors the whole evening. People would sit with me for a while and then move on. Prabir planted himself for most of the evening and he's always a charming conversational partner, full of good adventures and intrigue. An ex of his was in-house last night, so it was an especially eventful evening.

One guy who sat down for a bit and to whom I was introduced by Prabir was a musician. He talked about his plans to move west to further pursue his musical goals. But he also said he was only sticking around to hear one song by headliners, Marionette. I couldn't understand why. "Well, you know, most bands, like 98%, aren't any good and what's the chance I'm gonna find out this is one of the good ones?" Great attitude, friend. I told him I'd seen them plenty and that they were excellent, but he'd already made up his mind. What kind of a music lover is that?

Last time I'd been in the Camel, the owner Rand had boasted to me, knowing that I'm a wine drinker, that they'd finally gotten in some decent wine and adjusted their pricing. One of my few complaints with that venue has always been the cheap wine at exorbitant prices, and it had been duly noted. I had an excellent glass of Nero d'Avolo for seven bucks last night and that's a huge improvement over my past drinking experiences there. Kudos to Rand for choosing to address all of his audience's libation needs.

And grudgingly I'll also offer kudos to everyone who came out to hear last night's live music, even if some of your motivations were weak or unfounded. The important thing is that you were there supporting your local musicians and venue and no matter how misguided your reasons, you got to see a stellar show. Fortunately for me, I didn't have any of that baggage, so I just reveled in the music. Marionette makes that easy to do.

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