2006 Year End Thoughts
Nick Sylvester

The Musicians I’ve Met

Reviewed by: Nick Sylvester
Reviewed on: 2006-12-20

Posted 01/25/2007 - 04:42:50 PM by grandbanks:
 Nobody is going to read this right now, but that's OK. I read this originally and really liked it, but I think I was too preoccupied with life to really kinda "get it," but I am gonna pontificate a little now. I completely relate to much of this piece, and especially the last few paragraphs. I didn't even know Pitchfork had a message board, but as tempted as I am to read it for entertainment reasons, I will avoid it like the plague. To some you might imagine I am just hating on the 'fork, but no, I read it every day, have for years. I read a lot of music reviews in all forms, just have to. In my mind Pitchfork is in the thick of the "best music resources" available. If you seriously love music you have to admire Pitchfork's origins and dedication and, mostly, honest fandom slightly held in check by notions of journalistic ambition and integrity. Commerce enters at some point, but shit, if you got as many hits as Pitchfork did you'd haveta be an idiot not to cash that check. Most of you have your opinion of Pitchfork already, so we really don't need to delve into it at depth here, but it's influence and success is undeniable. They are unquestionably good at what they do. Nick, of course, has written a bunch for Pitchfork, and perhaps still does, but I don't recall seeing anything for a while. Glad he has popped up here, for he seems to be a pleasantly conflicted and refreshingly intensive voice, if that makes sense. So, why fear the Pitchfork message board if I have never actually read it? There are some simple responses to that question, the obvious one being: almost universally message boards are a waste of time. This is much trickier, though, as evidenced by my fairly consistent posting on this site and my inexhaustive ability to talk and listen and wallow in musical effluvia. No, what makes this a scary prospect is the withering effect it would have on my belief that all of this attention and success that indie rock is achieving is actually contributing to a better music culture at large. I know it ain't, but I really want to believe, as anyone who reads my endless screeds on here surely knows. "I miss the wide eyes." A truer statement I have not read, personally, in a while. Everybody has access to everything, all the time. This has been covered better by many others, I am not a critic or journalist or anything, so I am not going to try to cover all of my bases (or biases), but fuck, this is just bound to end badly. It's creating a culture of quick judgments and minimal engagements, no news here of course. This is why I like this site so much, though. It seems to really engage the modern dilemma of being a music fan, what with the "On Second Thought" sections, the ability for the readers to weigh in, links to blogs, etc., there is an attempt to present a broad picture, to cross some of these barriers that Nick mentions here. This comes nowhere near succeeding when it comes to keeping up with the swift and massed consumption, however. For the most part, no one is engaging the site on these levels. The comments section itself was almost irreparably crippled and killed by reactionary and inanely snarky posts. My own comments at times suffered from the baiting, attention seeking, but usually empty one-upmanship, and often any thoughtful, honestly uninformed or searching, overly polite, or uncool comment was met with supreme disdain. No one wanted to do any hard work, i.e. explain or justify themselves, they just spewed. A huge generalization, sure, but it was obvious to anyone paying attention. So, outside of my relationship to this site, where is this going. Well, I don't know, that is the point. To me it is a big mess of conflicting feelings and a wonder about whether I can carry on in the capacity I have in the past. I am lucky, I have friends in bands and participate in this music on a level that keeps me interested and stimulated on a grass-roots level, but even that is being tested, as Nick comments on as well. Sightings, a band almost none of you have heard or really ever should, unless you truly like tunelessness and instrument abuse, wanted $600 to play in tiny Charlottesville, Virginia. Now, of course, their BOOKING agent wanted the $600, the band wasn't negotiating this, but could they in good conscience let a poor schmuck in a little town trying to book some cool left-field shit charge the kind of door prices necessary to raise $600? (thankfully, they compromised, but what about the young booker in another town who just doesn't know better) I mean, I don't begrudge anyone wanting to quit their day job, but again: this can't lead anywhere good. If they can get it, great, but it is setting a really bad standard. It is unsustainable, an idea that should be resonating with every human being on the planet right now. There are consequences. All of these easy choices and casual criticisms add up. For those that have really sweated it out and bled for this stuff, it can be really disheartening to have history cast aside or adorned like an old/new pair of shoes. I want most people to succeed, oddly enough, because it is really hard to do. I just want it to make some sense, which it never will. So, essentially, I am developing a really robust understanding of dissapointment to replace my past unassailable optimism, I just hope I am fairly alone in this. Keep in mind, I am a happy guy in life, just not in my realtionship to music-fandom. All things change ...