Like you, I’m curious about what people are listening to and what they’re saying about various bands, indie ones in particular. I’m also curious what the bands themselves partake in when not writing and performing music. So, here are a few stories and links that I’ve seen over the past few days for your reading enjoyment and/or curiosity.
The Boss performs at the Super Bowl in 2010
I admit to keeping a pretty good distance outside of pop culture. It’s rarely been something I’ve found embracing or really found connection with. So if a band that I don’t know of performs on Letterman or Saturday Night Live, I assume that they’re a new pop sensation that the world is buzzing over. But maybe that’s not entirely true. There have been some great indie sensations on the late night networks that aren’t platinum recording artists in recent years. So when I see the indie band Sleigh Bells, whom I am only somewhat familiar with, being the featured band on SNL, does this mean they’ve hit it big or just got a lucky break? And what do other music connoisseurs think about that?
It turns out not everyone is on board with Sleigh Bells, at least from their SNL performance. As NPR Music’s Eric Weisbard wrote in The Record blog, there was a fairly heavy backlash against the band due to their costuming and somewhat lack of cohesion on stage. In reading that blog, the prevailing thought or question for me was with the Internet as such a realized resource for indie bands to gain exposure and audience, should network TV performances be left to the mainstream pop artists? Afterall, network TV is an older medium of audience growth and marketing, versus web concerts or smaller venues targeting more social interaction, one thing that has grown indie music exponentially over the past few years. While a nice touch every now and again, I’m content with the old players having their fun time on TV trying new material or the latest pop star pushing their hit single than trying to garner a style and method of music to a giant audience when it’s better suited for a more medium-sized affair. But that’s me.
Similarly speaking, the Super Bowl halftime performance of Madonna was only so-so for me. I did enjoy the “Like A Prayer” performance, but the two first tracks, which are apparently newer material (from the past few years), did absolutely nothing for me. I noted to my wife that she should have just played her hit songs from 10-20 years ago and that would have engaged the audience more. But again, she’s driven by new commercial success for her recent material and has to market it. Being a non-participant in pop culture, I didn’t recognize Nikki Minaj except that she had a free single on iTunes a year ago. LMFAO was something I thought I’d seen in an internet commercial, and Cee Lo Green is a host on The Voice. LMFAO did a decent job. Cee Lo was totally unnecessary and took away from the headliner doing her best song of the night. While I liked the choir there for that last song, and found it poetically appropriate, it’s too soon for that after the great Bruce Springsteen did something so similar, and so much better two years ago. That was a performance on par with 2002′s U2 Super Bowl gig with the inspiring 9/11 montage and performance of “Where The Streets Have No Name.” Madonna didn’t come close to that connection, but her trapeze artist stole the show, at least for me.
Photo credit: Bjorn Wallander
Lastly, my wife is a regular reader of Country Living and while we spend weekend mornings reading, I noticed an article she was perusing about Neko Case. It turns out, Neko is a gardener as well as a restorer of old things. The article (read here) highlights that in her Vermont home is a piano she restored where she writes many of her songs. As one who is in the midst of remodeling a home as well, reading about the similarities and having that connection with an artist whose music already provides a serving of that, makes the sound even sweeter.