On the non-movement of show attendees in Los Angeles

Coming from a decidedly punk background I feel first hand that live music is a physical experience. Usually the music is loud-enough to feel, whether the kick of a bass drum, or the pain in your ears from ringing feedback: there is nothing unsensual about it. I am accustomed to people dancing to music, whether it is “proper” dancing or the sort of dancing you see at punk shows. In the absence of live music I am a rather inanimate person. But when any music comes on this goes out the window.

Hence my general chagrin when I see shows in Los Angeles and most either do not dance or even move. They come, fiddle with their phones, and stand as stoically as possible. Is it a vestige of the image-conscious persona that is hoisted upon Los Angeles? It may be. I have even gone to see bands that I would define as being punk rock, but due to their blog-buzz status, bring people who are not punk-conscious and do not understand the social aspects of this happening. They get angry when someone brushes into them, or glare at those who so dare to dance.

It’s something that has irked me for quite some time. If you want to stand still and merely listen (to lively music) why not just do that at home? Stand in front of your stereo and stare emptily.

I do have a penchant for so-called “indie rock” (the worst & undescriptive of musical terms) and see this behaviour most prominently there. Just a few months ago I saw the Dum Dum Girls.

They fall into that en vogue category of “lo-fi” music, with their early recordings being so distorted that chord progressions are hard to make out over the din. It was not but myself and another person that were dancing. The music was energetic and blaring into everyone; and yet the crowd was still. More content with posturing, texting, and photo-taking.

The moment to partake in is now! Not in your post-show blogging or chatter. Such self-alienation is jarring; the lonely crowd stands still. Accustomed to being voyeurs more than participants. I am not a proponent of violent pushing or machismo, but at least a sense of place of, an awareness of the moment. Enrapture! Music has become like a product, to be consumed as tranquilly as a pill (it seems).

4 thoughts on “On the non-movement of show attendees in Los Angeles

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Some acts are the same way–they don’t acknowledge that there is an audience out in the darkness. It is almost like “look at us on stage”. It might be a by product of the world’s fascination with celebrity turning in on itself: we want to idolize (frozen fans) and be idolized (frozen bands), not part of a physically connecting world. I need my space. Don’t get too close.

    I carefully pick the shows I go to now for the same reason. It has to feel right, be the right venue, band, and day of the week. Two venues I always avoid are the Gibson Amphitheater and the Wiltern. A vibe I have yet to be disappointed by is Low End Theory.

  2. I knew this girl from New York that would complain about the same thing at shows here in Los Angeles. She said even if the bands sucked, they would dance cause they went out to have fun, right? I totally agree. Why go out if you’re just gonna be bored? And then make everyone else bored with your non-moving self. Being too cool to dance is the lamest thing ever.

  3. I totally agree.
    Even in the DJ scene folks have been lining up facing the DJ booth as if the DJ was going to do a head stand or something incredible to look at!
    I think it has to do more with insecurity in their own body than with ‘being cool.’
    If you can’t let go and enjoy yourself moving and taking up space, you really have some issues with what you think others may think of you or what you think of your being able to move and take up space.

  4. Totally. This is happening more in the more uppity venues like the Gibson but it is going down the ladder.

    I don’t really think its the bands fault but just more of this new dynamic we have now of always telling everyone what you are doing and appearence. By that I mean is you have kids texting their friends about how they are at a gig, twittering about the gig at the gig, or updating facebook about the gig.

    It still hasn’t really reached the very sub-par back yard gigs but those get kinda of old and feel rather…kidish?…after a while. The new-age hipster attitude about appearing more than feeling is killing all scenes.

    What can we do? Do what we always do. Dance! If we stop because we are afraid we look dorky, weird, or stupid, than we become them. I’m not going to stop because I’m hurting the vibe according to some lame-o. If its fast paced and energetic, than im going to be too.

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