söndag 22 maj 2011

Umeå Kulturnatta with Death Maze, Spazmosity

Umeå's Kulturnatta has been, from the start, about quantity and variety: have a truck load of bands and artists on stages around the center of Umeå and make it happen all at once.

Unfortunately, there's a big downside to that. The extended opportunities the audience is exposed to is also a limitation. A city-wide performance with a broad selection of artists is a Leviathan on more than two legs, and it barely manages to take one step at a time. The artists, more or less, have to rely on themselves in order to be properly marketed for the shows, and the uneasy fluctuation in the audience at each scene leaves a sour taste. Since all performance is for free, and a lot of times outdoors, it will create a flow of people, moving from one gig to another. But when each scene is not balanced between the artists then the flow becomes asymmetrical. Like when I saw Spazmosity, right after Death Maze. There were like ten people in the crowd, compromising mostly of drunken white trash.

Death Maze performed average. They were decently tight as a group, they had some energy expressed on stage and they were pretty professional in their overall appearance. The major annoyance, or should we say amusement? was the male guitarists constant grimacing. He couldn't keep his yap shut even if his life depended on it. In a funny way, he resembles Chris Barnes when he looks like a screaming monkey. And what was that toy he had instead of a guitar?
Given the circumstances, the rest did an OK job. The female guitarist and bassplayer looked really stiff though. It was as if they didn't know how to relax and enjoy themselves. The drummer had the same approach (or lack of) as many other metal drummers: a big fluctuation in attack, nuance and speed when playing straight forward beats. One could imagine the level of frustration behind the mixing console. But, if they're given the right amount of time and devotion they could develop to become something really awesome.

Something that has had plenty of time and devotion and still hasn't gotten anywhere is Spazmosity. Before I decided to stay and listen to them I've heard some people saying that they sucked hairy balls, bigtime. But when the criticism comes from persons who usually has an act for hating things intensely, I ignored the rumours. Sadly, I lost almost an hour of my life due to that error of judgement. I want that hour back, please. The band itself has commented in an interview that they sound like Naglfar, but they're not tight and they're pretty bad. That really sums up their performance yesterday.
First off: I don't care much for the Naglfar style. It's boring and has been done much better in the past.
Second: Wearing Pinhead alike outfit is not cool. Trust me, it's not.
Third: Like all other metal bands, you need a really good drummer, or at least a decent one who know how to mask his weak performance. It's not like a bassplayer, who can make it easy for himself and stick to the chord tunes and avoid anything "radical" in the metal way of thinking. But when the drum sound is in your face, it's hard to ignore the clumsy fills, the stumbling bass drums and the predictable tempo changes when someone is too tired behind the cymbals.
For the first time I've seen a really bad Swedish black metal band. Usually they're boring, if nothing else, but this was something else for sure.

söndag 15 maj 2011

Stupidity nailed to the floor

Sometimes the jokes about the stupidity about drummers are true.

Imagine that you in nine times out of ten never get the kind of instrumental rig you want on the stage. Very often you loose the relaxed approach, which should be there naturally. While playing you constantly go through the upcoming bars and the future arrangements in the songs, even though you’ve rehearsed and played them live tons of times. At the same time you also have to watch over the drum kit itself, just to make sure nothing has broken or is out of place due to bad stands or something else you can't control.

This is a typical situation for a live drummer. You didn’t want the crappy stands or the crappy instrumental rigs but you adapt to it, and try to make the best out of it. Any rational and flexible musician realise that. There’s always a limit to how much you’re willing to compromise on the precious rig of your drum kit or what you’re willing to help others with. But you can’t expect to be treated like a prince if you treat people like shit. That’s simple logic.

And of course you’re not a particularly flexible musician if you refuse to move any of your stands before your own show, not even when it’s just one stand that’s easily moved. Given the fact that the stage is very small, and there’s two other bands playing at the gig besides yours, the most practical solution is obvious. All you have to do is to move your fat ass a couple of feet and use those muscles you try to flex in front of a camera. Oh, didn’t I mention that it’s not so smart to also nail the stands of the drum kit to the stage floor, so it’s impossible to move anything?

The grade of stupidity and arrogance is striking, but hey, what can you expect from a fat, bald metal dude with a bad spider tattoo on his sweaty forehead.