Cry, Baby, Cry

For those who don’t really care:

Eh, just listen to the album.

Extended Mix:

After missing out on her first set of shows, with Brisbane getting a four song free show in Queen Street Mall on a hellishly warm weekday, Melanie Martinez finally decided to stop in for a night on Tuesday (16th August). Excited for the show after ordering pre-sale tickets months ago we made our way to The Tivoli, not entirely sure what to expect from an artist with little more than an album to play for us.

Martinez has become somewhat infamous for some of her actions in the public eye – coming from a decent run on The Voice some years ago and now being a daddy-kink inspiring, photo-hating alternative pop artist with a penchant for literal splitting of hairs. It was always going to be interesting to see if her actions at a proper show, which of course she’ll make a handy dollar from, would at all correlate with what the media has told us thus far. To some extent they did.

We thought we would be okay arriving just before doors at 7pm. Turns out more children and their mothers were interested in standing in a line spanning the street length and around the next corner than they were going to Disneyland on a family vacation. I’m not even slightly exaggerating. We waited for the best part of an hour, got in and went straight to the back of the merch line. Yeah, $45 for a tour shirt might not be the best deal – but it’s better than $30 for her album you can get at JB for a tenner or a $20 poster that we got 3 of for free earlier in the year.

Strike one for Mel.

The music started eventually, after a good dozen false alarms with tweenage girls squealing every time the house music changed we finally got a bit of live music. It was the opening act, Japanese Wallpaper. They were pretty good, a nice brand of chilled out, ambient electronic pop that would have been perfect listening while doing absolutely nothing at home. Plus they’re from Melbourne, so that’s a bit of a plus.

Back to waiting, another half hour of squeals, chants for Melanie (despite the set times being more or less a surefire thing – sorry kids but you aren’t gonna change that) and a general feeling of disgust at being in the same room as so many foetuses. 20160816_212530.jpgEventually, the one we waited for finally emerged on stage. And I mean finally, there was a good 5 minutes of pointless light flashing before she emerged from the crib she probably (definitely) had backstage.

Quickly before I continue, the set design was cute and interesting – however it didn’t add anything more than something to gawk at when the curtain was first raised.

Her set was decent enough, she played through the entirety of her album in that order (due to it’s narrative structure (It’s called Cry Baby for those who want to know)) and that was it before we scurried out in order to avoid the crowds. She might have played an encore, I don’t know.

What got to me however, was I’m not even sure if there was any live music played. It was her and two ‘bandmates’ equiped with a couple of cymbals and two sample pads – it was a symphony of loops and samples, backing tracks and a lack of effort, to be frank I’m not even sure how often a live instrument was played. There were a couple of times the man on the left of stage broke out a coupe of bars of electric guitar, and sometimes it looked like he was playing keyboard (however that was conveniently blocked by some of the stage props, so I’m not sure if he even played it). It was slick and perfect – and that’s what was wrong. I don’t want to go to a live show and hear a perfect reproduction of the studio version, give it some difference. A bit of energy, a mistake due to over-excitement now and again, something to make it worth actually going to a show. There was none of that, absolutely none – and I left relatively lukewarm.

Melanie herself was okay. She only spoke a couple of words to her fans all night and spend half of the songs with her back turned or casually chatting with her band members. Didn’t seem to care an awful lot that she was playing a sold out show. Granted she has admitted to a touch of stage fright – and she has been interrupted abruptly by the audience when trying to speak to them – makes it a bit fairer. Still doesn’t excuse not facing us.

Strike two Mel.

What irritated me the most wasn’t any of that, despite my response; it was the fact that there was no separation of the crowd, the problem of the all ages gig. Melanie’s songs aren’t of a lighthearted nature – they sing of rape, sex, murder and disfunction. Drug references and blatant innuendos are coupled with cursing and hatred. I don’t care how old you are if you like the music, but bloody hell at least give those who understand the musical content something to hold onto.

If there was an all ages area and an 18+ area it would have been a better show. Full Stop. Those who wanted to be oblivious, bop along and dance terribly out of time to a song about being raped in a carpark and not know that it’s a morbid song draped in fancy embroidered lolita dresses could do that. Those who understood it, wanted to have a drink instead of paying half of your arm for a red bull and be with likeminded people who revelled in the macabre could. But no, everyone had to intermingle and listen to a song about a child being raped while surrounded by 6 year old and their mothers. Again, not exaggerating.

My partner with whom I went summed it up perfectly when they said:

“I’m glad I went to see her live. Was it worth it? Maybe. Was it worth $80? No. Would I see her again? Probably not.”

I agree, and really it wouldn’t have been any different from watching a muted video of Melanie on YouTube with the CD playing in the background. Sorry Mel, strike three. You’re out.

-AJLienert

Cry, Baby, Cry

Let’s Get Physical

 

Discussing the idea that Print Journalism is a dying medium and what it means for the future of journalism.

 

 

There’s a growing idea amongst journalism professionals that print media is slowly obsoleting as a viable form[i]. This idea is not a new one, since the birth of online journalism there’s been a fear that it would spell the end of more traditional media formats. As much as this seems like a worrying trend, one need only look to a similar fear in another industry that felt the emergence of online formats had all but killed off a beloved format – the music industry and Vinyl. With this is mind, what’s to prevent a love of physical media to stay with readers and follow the same resurging trend that vinyl experienced.

vinyl(Image 1: see endnote x)

As much as it might seem a bit of a leap to compare the readership and success of print newspaper to the sales and revenue of vinyl, it’s not as wild a comparison as you’d assume. The key comparing point between the two is the fact that they are both physical means of experiencing something widely available online – as well as in a portable more accessible format. The physical element of both forms is one of the key elements, perhaps stemming from our development as children as tactual-kinaesthetic learners, where people enjoy and indulge more in a product that is readily touchable. The same goes for books, magazines, and photographs among other physical artefacts.

 

Looking at things as currently as we can (without paying a hefty fee), The Australian Bureau of Circulations reports the newspaper industry in Australia has been losing consumers at quite a significant rate year-on-year since 2012[ii], as well as there being a declining trend in majority of localities worldwide both in terms of ad revenue and circulation numbers, as per WAN-IFRA[iii]. This may seem worrying at first viewing, however it follows a remarkably similar trend in the sales of vinyl between 1999 and 2006 shown to us by the IFPI[iv]:

(Figure 1: See endnote iv)

Global_Vinyl_Sales_Graph_In_US$

Between these years we see a USD$126 Million decline in sales of vinyl, similar however much more severe than the global 13% decline in newspaper revenue over the past five years as shown to us by WAN-IFRA.

 

This year-by-year trend provides quite strong correlation between vinyl and print news; the good news is that since 2006, worldwide vinyl sales have increased by a factor of more that 450% – in fact the global revenue in 2012 exceeds that of 1997 by almost 10%. The managing director of the Official Chart Company in the UK, Martin Talbot, backs up this sentiment, saying to the BBC “Only five years ago this business was worth around £3m a year. This year [2014] it’s going to be worth £20m”[v].

 

These figures provide some comfort to those who cling on to and enjoy the traditional media formats, those who aim to become professionals in a print news industry, or both.

WAN-IFRA-Newspaper-Circs-Ad-Trends-in2013-June2014(Figure 2: See endnote iii)

 

The fact that there’s a growing market for print media in Asia, the Middle East and in particular Latin America also shows that the idea that the medium is dead may only be relevant to a western society. However to get a grasp of how this comparison can dictate the future of journalism in Australia, more local data needs to be analysed.

 

Between March of 2015 and 2016, stats provides by Roy Morgan Research show that only 3 of 33 studied print newspapers in Australia have shown a growth in readership, majority of these losing readership in a combined Weekday, Saturday and Sunday circulation[vi]. This along with the WAN-IFRA report showing significant decreases in both circulation and ad revenue, as well as the job cuts and strike of Fairfax employees, don’t provide a lot of hope for Australian print media[vii].

However again comparing it to the incremental growth of the vinyl industry in Australia provides solace that a revival could be on hand. The Australian Record Industry Association’s 2012 report on wholesale sales of music show that even in a smaller market, vinyl is growing. From the end of 2011 to the end of 2012, vinyl singles saw a 58.56% increase in quantity sales and a 46.89% increase in dollar value, while vinyl LP’s saw a 73.67% quantity growth and over doubled the dollar value of sales with a 105.21% increase[viii].

 

Given this is a 2012 report, it would be reasonable to assume that these figures would follow the trends of vinyl sales worldwide, increasing year-on-year to present and providing another physical market that is claiming back some of the ground the digital media had taken. Given the comparisons, it’s hard to see the death of print media in a country as large as Australia, especially given the interest growing in the Northern Territory and the success of the Financial Times, as the report above, giving the industry a steady platform to build upon.

 

Despite the correlations, there will always be those that take an opposing view, take a look at newspaperdeathwatch.com, run by former Editor-in-Chief of magazines run by IDG Ventures, Paul Gillin[ix]. His website is one that focuses thoroughly on the ideas that citizen journalism and online media are the obvious way forward in the industry, and with a wealth of journalism and technology experience his point is valid. He doesn’t completely ignore the trends of traditional media however, and he takes a relatively unbiased view of all things relating to the industry as a whole.

 

An interesting take on the pros and cons of both sides, he takes to it with elements of wit – as seen by the praise for a poignant parody video focussing on a changing media landscape:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS7Qbvz6AVY&feature=player_embedded .

 

Lots of the points Gillin raise are bang on. One of the concepts that we mustn’t ignore is the idea that these forms of media can coexist without a detrimental effect to the other. Of course there’s going to be competition from online exclusive services, new age thinkers and innovators capturing the attentions of a younger demographic not raised on the delivery of a newspaper on your driveway every morning. This again however mimics the trends seen in the record industry post-vinyl. When the Compact Disc was released and became a more widely accessible means of listening to music, it reached the masses more easily but didn’t convince everyone. The same can be said about the introduction of portable media files, the likes of .mp3 and .WAV. None of these aimed (directly) to kill off any similar products already on the market, nor did they appeal to everyone. Citizen Journalism and listicle based companies didn’t aim to take the throne of the tradition print media format, but with the rapid acceptance of digital media as a legitimate and well sourced medium there was always going to be some friction between the two. But now with many of Australia’s, nay the worlds major newspapers taking to an online platform as well as their traditional print, the scope they can reach only extends. As with any audience dictated industry, each individual (or group of individuals) has his or her preferred manner of participating. If newspapers can somehow grab hold of the younger generations as successfully as the vinyl industry can, there’s no reason it can’t replicate the revival that vinyl has had (and is continuing to have) over the past decade.

The comparisons between newspaper and vinyl are more complete than assumed at first glance. Both are more traditional, physical mediums that had their alleged heyday in years gone by, and ones that have the ability to keep for an extended period of time after initial release. In the early-mid 2000s many in the recording industry thought that vinyl was a dead format, and mp3 and CD, coupled with streaming were to be the continuing way forward. Fast forward a decade and worldwide sales have eclipsed those of the late 90s and a full revival has occurred, encompassing both old and new artists. A similar thought can be presented when talking about newspapers. Many people are under the impression that the digital landscape has enveloped so much of the journalism media that in the near future traditional print journalism will become an obsolete medium. However as shown, the statistics in relation to newspaper don’t spell complete disaster, with circulation and revenue increasing in many areas in the world, and the declining trends closely mirrors those seen in the vinyl industry, and we all know how that looks now. [x]

-AJLienert

[i] http://newspaperdeathwatch.com/ (Accessed 22 May 16)

[ii] https://mumbrella.com.au/abc-newspapers-continue-print-decline-173008 (Accessed 29 May 16)

 

[iii] http://www.marketingcharts.com/traditional/global-newspaper-circulation-and-advertising-trends-in-2013-43338/attachment/wan-ifra-newspaper-circs-ad-trends-in2013-june2014/). (Accessed 29 May 16)

[iv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Global_Vinyl_Sales_Graph_In_US$.png (Accessed 31 May 16)

[v] http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30216638 (Accessed 31 May 16)

[vi] http://www.roymorgan.com/industries/media/readership/newspaper-readership (Accessed 29 May 16)

[vii] http://www.hcamag.com/hr-news/fairfax-announces-120-job-cuts-500-staff-go-on-strike-213506.aspx. (Accessed 31 May 16)

[viii] http://www.aria.com.au/documents/2012wholesalefigures.pdf (Accessed 1 June 16)

[ix] http://newspaperdeathwatch.com/about-2/, https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulgillin (Accessed 22 May 16)

[x] http://www.theartsdesk.com/sites/default/files/images/stories/NEW_MUSIC/thomas_h_green/vinyl.jpg

 

Word Count :1448

Let’s Get Physical

Gutter Runts – Wait, Did I Even See It?

The other night I went to see yet another piece of art produced by Woodridge raised Jake Connor Moss, but this time it was a film. At a cinema. With a sold out theatre. On a Thursday. The first thing I have to mention is that the parking situation was abhorrent, and I ended up getting a hefty ticket for spending two hours in a loading zone. I suppose I did deserve it.

So I arrive at the New Farm Cinema complex with my partner (who downs a couple of Jack and Cokes before the show (“I want to be fucked up for a fucked up film”)) and the opening night of Captain America: Civil War decides to be at the exact same time.

Here master card, that is priceless.

So after waiting and standing and a large crowd, we walk in, sit down and start to get excited about what’s going to happen next. This was the first and only showing of the film. Ever. Exciting.

Turns out, the film was the most overly cliched, predictable and boring piece of cinema I’ve seen in a long time. From someone like Moss, I walked in expecting some sort of arthouse indie spectacular with interesting characters, perfectly smooth and sequenced editing and some sort of morally ambiguous ending that makes you reconsider what you just watched. But no, I sat there for just under an hour watching a near recreation of every ordinary romcom that I’ve seen on free-to-air television. The actors just seemed like they didn’t want to be there, the script was cringe inducing and the fact that other people in the audience were laughing, clapping or smiling made it even worse.

I don’t know what inspired someone as creative and interesting as Moss to sell out like that, maybe it’s the fact he wanted to do something easy to get a quick buck. If that’s the case, it worked.

We walked out and my partner said to me “I feel like I’ve read that story 6 times before”, which is oh too true. I know that maybe keeping things original can be a struggle, and the amount of talent it takes to craft an enjoyable piece of individual art can be staggering, but Jake has the talent – if not him then at least the last. They did a good job, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think they wanted to be in something so mainstream. So sell out.

Oh well, what can you do. Maybe I’m totally wrong, lots of people probably loved it. Each to their own.

Besides, it’s hard to remember everything after just one screening. Sometimes I ask myself if I even saw it at all.

-AJ Lienert

Gutter Runts – Wait, Did I Even See It?

99 Virgins and Pussy in Heaven

If you ask me, or value my opinion at all, I’ll tell you that live theatre is going through one of the strongest resurgences of any art form. Yes, I can hear you telling me that vinyl has been *insert adverb here* successful since the hipsters emerged from their niche coffee holes, or that hard copies of books are wanted more and more by the day (because you can’t turn the pages of a tablet), but to me, that’s not as strong a resurgence.

What makes me believe (in my fairly limited yet highly opinionated manner) that live theatre is trying its hardest to be recognised as a legitimate and plentiful art form is purely down to the fact that it’s had to shake itself up. Books keep being books, even though we have kindle. Music keeps being music whether it’s digital or on vinyl. Theatre, however, seemed like it was falling into the trap of Shakespeare revival after Shakespeare butchery after Shakespeare musical. Indie films were taking all the glory of being a bit different and pushing the boundaries, but theatre, ESPECIALLY that of more alternative production houses has taken it one step further, and made it even better (here’s looking at you La Boîte)

You might have read the last thing I posted (yeah, sorry about that. Life gets int he way of things sometimes) and wondered if there was anything else Jake Connor Moss couldn’t make gratuitously real. Well, he did it to theatre as well.

Despite the name, “Is there Pussy in Heaven” is a one-man show that talks about far more than merely sex in the clouds, well, for the most part. Following a very similar trend to much of his published works, it delves into the oft taboo areas of mental health (yes guys, it does in fact exist), drugs, abuse, suicide and sex, and doesn’t hold back. The story loosely follows a main male protagonist dealing with life. No spoilers, theres a beautiful cohesive and ultimately revealing plot to the show.

As a one man show, you’d think it would be hard to define distinct characters, have a setting, a coherent plot, however Moss is just that good that nothing seemed out of place. First an foremost, the acting chops he showed were immense. He tackled various subtle and emotional characters and came out looking like Gary Oldman in each instance. He played obscenely exaggerated caricatures and made them fit without being cliched or over the top. Having written these characters and the related script himself, you’d expect him to know what he was doing, and he didn’t disappoint. The simplicity of both the costuming and the set design worked just as well to compliment the material. A hat, a few chairs, a pair of glasses and a desk was all he needed to set a scene that (bar a few references to Brisbane locales) could be inserted into virtually any western setting. Couple that with the lighting – all impressively manually worked – to prompt a scene change or change in P.O.V so succinct even Tarantino would have been impressed with the fluidity of the acting and the script, and you have a formula for solo success.

But really, the characters, the setting, the costumes and the lights were nothing compared to the pure, unadulterated piece of realism genius that was the script. I repeat a lot of what I mentioned in his Sooky Cunts book review,  that having an unapologetic and raw outlook to some usually untouchable ideas is just what we need. However the witty comedy, the make-you-cry monologues, the dirty jokes and the overarching story and plot twist were just so, so good that really, I can’t think of what more to say. The balance of comedy and drama was precise, giving you a hint of comic relief right when you needed it but not overshadowing the messages of what help really means. The anecdotes provides allow the audience to connect with a hard to grasp concept even if they can’t relate it to personal experience, and that’s something that doesn’t happen all too often. The way Moss embodies the words that he’s saying, whoever is saying them, whatever the situation, draws it back to the reality of the speech. The script has so coherently showed us that anyone can have issues. Anyone can be on the brink. Anyone can put on a mask. So don’t assume.

Yes, he’s done it again. Jake’s woo-d me with realism and freedom of expression just as I endeavour to freely express myself, no matter what. Not only that, but from both a critical and emotional opinion, works like this could very well change the dynamic and medium of modern theatre. I sincerely hope it does.

– AJ Lienert

99 Virgins and Pussy in Heaven