For as long as I can remember, music has been a central part of my life.
I distinctly remember walking around the playground with a clipboard in 5th grade, attempting to prove, through a poll of my classmates, that the Beatles were better than the Jonas Brothers. (I succeeded.) I find this funny now, not just because of the sheer novelty of being a 10-year-old caring that much about the Beatles, or the novelty of a 10-year-old conducting a poll on the playground to prove a point, but because as an adult, I now have a newfound, only semi-ironic appreciation for the Jonas Brothers. I stand by my opinion that “Lovebug” is one of the best love songs of all time. Ten-year-old me would scream.
Since my stint as a 40-year-old classic rock fan stuck in a prepubescent’s body, my music taste has only expanded, to acts both highbrow and “lowbrow.” I still love the Beatles, but I have just as much of an appreciation for Lady Gaga and her contributions to pop music and culture. I hesitate to even use the term “lowbrow” when referring to pop music and pop culture. I firmly believe that some (not all) pop music has genuine artistic value, just as some (not all) music of more “serious” genres has genuine artistic value. My appreciation for Lady Gaga, as with other pop idols and with bands such as My Chemical Romance, is one that is deeply earnest and unironic. That’s not to say, however, that I don’t enjoy the occasional meaningless, repetitive song i.e. One Direction, Katy Perry, Mac Demarco etc.
I’ve also grown to appreciate music not just as an aural experience, but as a performative experience. I think that’s where a lot of my appreciation of Lady Gaga comes from– she captures the performativity 0f pop culture and pop music, and parodies it in her music, her aesthetic, her live shows.
Beyond that, I firmly believe in the power of live music. I believe that every live performance reveals a small piece of the person performing, whether that be in a garage filled with a dozen people, or in Madison Square Garden. Performing music, especially music you’ve written yourself, is an inherently emotional experience. At every concert I’ve been to, I’ve experienced some kind of catharsis, and it is magical. The concerts in huge arenas filled with thousands is a great experience, but the best experiences I’ve had at shows were the ones in the venues that hold a few hundred people or less, where you’re packed like sardines in a bar or basement or club, standing just a few feet away from the act onstage.
One of the things I was most excited about with my move from Los Angeles to New York was exploring an entirely new, different music scene. I’ve made it my goal to find a venue that I love as much as I love the Echoplex back at home. It’s literally underground, a 700 capacity standing-room-only kind of place with a disco ball dangling above the floor. Sometimes it hosts Emo Nite LA, a monthly-ish event where people dance drunkenly to emo songs from the 2000s. The venue and the experiences I’ve had there are so important to me that I wrote my personal statement about a concert I attended there– and here I am at Hofstra today.
So obviously, there is some merit to the idea that live music has meaning. I firmly believe that these experiences, regardless of who’s performing or where they’re performing, deserve to be documented, and that is what I intend to do through this blog.