Monday, June 19, 2006

I Hate Youth Culture

So Netflix brought me the Coachella DVD. I have gone on record a number of times as stating my undying enmity for the Coachella festival and everything related to it. I've been twice and I think I would rather cut my arm off with a rusty spoon than go again. My hopes for the DVD were low: just show some performance footage and you can probably produce an interesting package.

Well, I am now absolutely convinced that the Goldenvoice production company (who produce the festival) are motivated by nothing so much as a deep and profound contempt for both music fans and musicians. I mean, what else can possibly explain such a disappointing package? Instead of just shutting up and showing the music, the DVD is filled with interviews -- interviews with musicians and festival-goers. Look, I don't care about the people at the festival. The reason I hate festivals is that I hate people. Ergo, I don't want to be reminded of the people who make those events absolutely unbearable. I don't need to see musicians waxing poetic on the "festival experience", which basically boils down to a Stockholm Syndrome-esque romanticizing of all the elements that make festivals simply unbearable -- the heat, the crowds, the freakish performance art installations erected by people who obviously did not follow their guidance counsellors' advice about finding a productive career. If I were a musician I think I would hate playing a festival: it's just not an optimum format for any kind of music performance. The audiences are invariably disrespectful, and anyone who wants to actually enjoy the music has to fight the crowds, the weather and the sub-standard sound in order to do so.

But then, I don't like going to see live music anyway, these days. Last time I went to a concert -- over a year ago, I think -- I really enjoyed the show but was so disgusted by the misbehavior of the crowd that I was thoroughly disenchanted with the very idea of concerts. I distinctly remember standing in the middle of the area immediately in front of the stage, trying in vain to focus exclusively on the performers, but being constantly bruised by the wild flailings of the kiddy crowd -- of course, with loud music blaring from the speakers, they can't hear my repeated appeals for them to respect my personal space. I've already declared a jihad on venues that don't provide chairs for patrons, and it's even worse if you're in a venue with seating and the audience decides they need to stand in their chairs, so that you need to stand as well if you're going to see the action on stage. I don't remember seeing the memo that said concerts were an excuse for people to act rude and discourteous.

I guess all this boils down to the fact that we have a musical economy where artists can't make a living unless they subject themselves to the rigors of touring, and as long as artists continue to perform live this kind of bad behavior will go uncommented. Maybe in the future more musicians will think twice about touring, if crowds continue to eschew tact in favor of childish tomfoolery. You would think if a musician goes to the trouble of coming to your town to perform you would have the presence of mind to sit respectfully while they play, concentrating attentively on the music and applausing politely between tracks. But I guess most concertgoers aren't there for the music, they're there to be jackasses and create an environment in which those of us who actually want to enjoy the music are essentially superfluous. Sit down, be quiet, show some respect for your elders, damn kids.

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