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Live Today

So, I listen to a lot of horrible music. Mostly groups of angry kids playing 15 minute sets full of yelling and pounding on messed up instruments in dingy VFW halls. It's not pretty, it's not technical, there's not much melody and there's little to no "serious" musicianship involved.

But what that kind of music lacks in skill, or production values, or fancy trappings, it more than makes up for in sincerity. It's honest, it's direct, and it's delivered with an earnest Do It Yourself attitude.

I went to a show last week for a little band touring out of Iowa. They'll never sell more than a few thousand copies of any record they put out, and they'll never make it big with some catchy hit single on the radio. But they played their hearts out to three hundred kids in a small hall outside of Boston, and it reminded me why I love going to shows so much.

Just as Rock Band becomes a completely different experience when played with a group, I think all music changes to a degree when you get a taste of it in a different setting. I couldn't count the number of times I dismissed a band I heard on CD, but was later blown away by the energy of their live show. Even something as simple as hearing friends sing along to a song on the stereo in a packed car driving around town with your windows rolled down... as opposed to listening to a record while laying in bed with the lights off. That's not knocking the solo-lights out-listen at all (since I'm equally guilty of that), but it's a sharp contrast to music as a group experience.

A live show, even by a touring band of no name misfits in a broken down van, is an unbelievable part of experiencing music. You strip away all of that packaging, the studio edits, the album sales, and you get right down to the heart of the band. Sometimes you see a band that sounds great recorded but just can't pull it off live. But sometimes you drive all day to wait in line for tickets for an hour in the rain, sit in the corner of a miserable club, and then that one band gets up there and rocks harder than you ever thought any band could rock.

Support live music. Go see a show.