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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Improving Concerts

Concerts are weird. Standing around and watching someone play music is boring. It feels like a poorly planned party. We've turned live performance into a passive television watching experience. Why isn't anyone dancing?

Most listeners play music as we do other things (jog, make breakfast, make out, work, drive). In fact, I can't think of any time that listening to music is the primary activity. Except when a friend says "you have to hear this" and that leads to an awkward session. Unless there's a strong visual component at a concert I find it frustrating and ill-conceived.

The following ideas improve concerts. It took us fifteen minutes of passing notes (during a show) to think of them:

Compliments: people should write random compliments about audience members, they are passed to the front and projected on a screen.
A photo montage: If you're not going to perform with Daft Punk lasers or, at the very least, look wild and uncaged, then give me something interesting to look at. Art, kids' drawings, journalist photos from the Korean war. Anything.
Drawing: Everyone is encouraged to draw other people in the audience. As they are drawn they are posted on a screen. The singer encourages everyone to complete the picture by making sure everyone has been drawn (if I were doing this I would get someone on a laptop, plugged into a projector, scanning and adding the pictures to an updated mosaic).
Personal Reflection: A questionnaire is handed out. The audience answers personal questions about themselves that thematically match the song being played. At the end of the show the answers are handed in with an email address. Each individual receives their answers three years later via Futureme.org. I think I'll do this one at a Slam Poetry show. Or a show with a lot of forms, speeches, monologues, rants, music, poetry, just to rile up the crowd and make them think. I'm a f*cking genius.
Choreography: A simple, group dance is taught to the audience for the song.
Playground: Have a playground or obstacle course for adults to play on. Though I feel that Sumo Suits have an undercurrent of cultural insensitivity, I would rather watch audience members battle and apologize to the Japanese Ambassador than sit bored.

Interpretive dancers, chess sets, beach balls and balloons to bat around, cooking lessons...

This is only the beginning.

(Liz and I thought of this list while we listened to the talented Kay Pettigrew play her set at Stacy's fundraiser. She's definitely an artist who would embrace a chance for audience interaction.)

1 comment:

lfar said...

These are good ideas except it could be argued that the visual element is the actual performer. Like watch John Mayer's hands when he plays some songs... SO FAST! Or I went to a Hawksley Workman concert (with Meags!) and he was just so amazing. Such a performer. Watching him do anything (from drums, to a mini piano, to just standing and singing) was such a joy.

Maybe it's not so much that a visual component is needed... maybe just a show.