Sunday, June 22, 2008


On the NYC Freaks list, Jeremy Welsh wrote:

"I have been struggling to put my thoughts about MMJ into words, and a post on another list came close to how I feel." That line and the quote that followed, inspired me to write this response:

Its interesting to me that you were able to sum up your experience by quoting another person. Many times with this band (and many others), I feel like the majority of the audience goes through similar emotions while in front of them, and, as a result, I fully understand how one can transpose the assessment of another to help illuminate their own perspective. Most times, in my experience, I've been able to connect with someone else's opinion matching my own, & so too, as evinced by your quoted text, have you. With my own commentary on the subject, I don't hope to convince Jake that the band isn't "gay", or Rich that the band isn't "eh"; or anyone, for that matter, of anything. Rather, I only seek to expand on and perhaps further understand my own experiences.

I don't expect everyone to love this band, especially in the way that I do. I can see how, for most, my opinion doesn't matter now, and eventually, in the future, I understand that it will matter even less, to even less people. They are in the process of leaping to the next level, and what I think or write or opine matters not. With that said, seeing and loving music, especially in the live setting, almost always presents one with a shared experience. Seeing/hearing MMJ often entices me to close my eyes, increasing the (desired) disconnect with my surroundings in order to amplify my connection with the performers. But with so many members of any given audience numbering themselves among my friends, my desire to remain completely insular is rendered futile.

Beyond my personal experience at the show itself, comes the pre show, mid show & post show discussion. The personality of each narrator influences the comments, from Jay's understanding of the perfection of Bonnaroo performance to Ferd's sarcastic (and well composed, might I add) quips. Whether we issue our missives to rejoice, reject, assess, nitpick, postulate or seek information about music, we all ended up on the Freaks List because we like to talk/write about it, or at least know about it. Because of our shared history and track record, its pertinent for me to note our relationship with the "next big thing" if only because we helped support so many bands through that transition, from Soulive to Robert Randolph to The Duo.

The real truth about our role in the development of any of the aforementioned is that they probably would have grown without us. So to has/will The Jacket. However, as I stated before, people like us, those that eagerly invest in live music, as much for the artists as for our own satisfaction, matter. That alone drives my fingers to type this already too long and wordy essay. I don't see the opportunity to offer my opinion as a right, only as a luxury similar to the brilliance / difficulty of my own professional experience in the business.

I too want to use words written by someone else to better explain how I felt on Friday. In my case, the starting point came from my own mind. Last Tuesday, I wrote the following assessment of MMJ at Bonnaroo: "The more I consider it, the more I believe that it was in fact "The Best Show I've Ever Seen", and I only saw half of it." While juries can often find me guilty of hyperbole, in hindsight I still feel like that assessment holds true. My follow up quote, "They are going to lay waste to RCMH," ended up more as a wish than an accuracy, but only for some.

That's really the point. Given that all of us count ourselves as members of the Freaks list, and most of us hang out beyond the list together at shows, we often find commonality in our assessments of those experiences. This unity allows us to successfully quote others in an effort to explain ourselves. Conversely, we can also endlessly (as this post shows) agree to disagree about the same events.

Friday I saw a band for the second time in 7 days, playing Radio City for the first time. Last Friday in TN, during the course of the 90 minutes I witnessed, that band completely destroyed me. This Friday, the same musicians played perhaps (on paper) the biggest show of their lives, and they didn't top what I saw at Bonnaroo. Did they kill? For me, yes. Did they live up to expectations? For many, yes; for some, no. Nicole Levine said "it changed (her) life." Joyce said it didn't move her as much as she hoped, given the hype. Rich Petrisko called it "eh"; Dr. Swain perhaps contrasted it best when he wrote "it was majestic arena rock" but "Not an "OMG this is the best band in the world" show -- that was Bonnaroo -- but a confident performance by a band that's ready to take the next step."

The beauty of the whole situation, for me, can be found in that disparity. What happened at Bonnaroo belonged to those of us that were there, and for me, and many others, their set was "the best show ever". What happened on Friday belongs to so many people I love and respect, and it was everything that each of them postulated. They played the perfect big venue rock show. They didn't destroy people who's opinions matter. They changed lives. The left people thinking "eh". They met JR's expectations. They got Neddy & Sacha out of the house on the same night. They brought so many of us together, and left so many of us discussing the show in their wake.

Whether or not you get it, love it, need it or understand it, they made the leap. Because people like us, with our savvy and our history, don't bother to invest, positively or negatively in anything that doesn't matter.

I finally saw Radiohead play 2 shows in TX a bit ago, and I remember teasing Super Dee that they were the BBOTP - Best Band On The Planet. After MMJ at Bonnaroo, I told her that her assertion that MMJ held that title was correct. For me, that night/morning in Tennessee, they did. Radio City didn't necessarily take the crown away from them. Instead, it allowed reality to properly influence my opinion. MMJ is not (yet) the BBOTP, but they could be. And they are closer to undisputed champion than even they might have guessed. Even if you don't know it yet, or don't agree, you all make it so by firmly stating your opinion about them.

T minus 6 months and 9 days 'til MMJ MSG. If any band can lay claim to the BBOTP crown, its them, there. 'Til NYE (and beyond), stay gold.


neddy said...

Well said Peter. They melted my face. I do think they are da best. Keep counting down to NYE, I will be there.

scb said...

was my first time seeing them, and i was definitely impressed