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

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Cry, Baby, Cry

When Good Bands Go Bad

Musicians live in one of the most cutthroat and competitive worlds one can possibly inhabit, yet there’s still an oversaturation of them; musicians and bands keep coming and coming. If there’s something to be said about musicians, is that they’re a clan, a family, a tribe. This nature makes them more valuable to each other than money or businessmen do, or ever will. Need a place to crash? Ask a musician friend, they’ve probably been there too. Need equipment for a gig? The band before or after will have no qualms about lending it to you. Need to try and make a break, start playing shows in bigger venues? Other musicians will be there for you, trying to do as much as they can. Unlike any other industry out there, the music industry is one of connections and giving instead of wheeling and dealing.

So that offers up the question, why do so many bands have unceremonious lineup changes through their history? Your favourite bands have probably had some sort of shift, just mention Northlane to any teenager nowadays and they’ll argue to the death about which frontman is better. Look at the storm that ensued when Queen toured with Adam Lambert instead of Freddie Mercury. Given, Mercury had been gone for a while and was replaced with another strapping young gay man with incredible vocals, so not all bad. But then you take a look at the big ones. The Clash, in 1982 they were on top of the world, the smash London Calling 3 years past and Rock the Casbah having just peaked in the U.S top 10, with the connected album Combat Rock going 2x Platinum. Topper Headon (Drums) had already been sacked prior to the alClash_21051980_12_800bums release due to a heroin addiction, but that’s not the worst of it. In 1983 founding members Mick Jones and Joe Strummer had had enough of each other, and Strummer promptly kicked Jones out of the band. Jones, who had convinced Strummer to give the punk band a shot, was no longer a member. Following this was the critical and commercial flop of Cut the Crap, thus cementing the end of ‘the only band that mattered’. From friends who shared the same views and love for music to the end of one of the greatest band ever, it doesn’t seem worth it, especially in the music industry. This is only one example, but Van Halen, Guns n’ Roses, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers into blur and Oasis have had their careers all but ruined by needless chopping and changing of lineups. In a world where music should mean more to people than the money they make from it, why are there so many changes?

We need to take a step back. When music is one of the most powerful tools one has to produce something, express something and feel something, why do we not take into account friendship, mateship and our personal relationships with other musicians as much as we should. From a personal standpoint, music and friendship are two of the strongest forces in this world, so why throw one, or both for that matter for no reason. We’re a band of brother and sisters, not a group that fights it out and tries to compete with others for the sake of it. Come on muso’s, we’re better than that. At least some of us can be.

-AJH

When Good Bands Go Bad