The Bays (photo copped from Guardian Unlimited)
If only more bands had the tact and taste of the Bays.
In these troubled times of sexy cheerleading and scandals at â€œAmerican Idol,â€ one doesnâ€™t ordinarily perform the mental exertions necessary to separate the idea of music from the idea of music recordings. But waft away with me now, just for a second, on the gentle breeze of cognition, and compare the character and purpose of one to the other. Unless you are simple, you will agree that one is art, the other is commodity, and that what we have here is antithesis.
Now, donâ€™t argue with me. You can look the other way on this art vs. commerce thing all you want, but conflating intellection with shopping is yukky.
Music still comes in live performance form, but increasingly these appearances seem an almost perfunctory duty, a promotion of the real product: the studio recording made last year at great expense. Even in the scrappiest, authentickest little club you will find, in a smelly corner, under the glare of a cheap shop light, the Merch Table. This is where the bass playerâ€™s girlfriend languishes during the bandâ€™s set with a beat-up sticker-covered suitcase from a second-hand store. The suitcase is full of â€œproductâ€–the expensive CD, of course, and T-shirts (L and XL only, unless thereâ€™s a chick in the band ) that must be sold to pay for the expensive CD. In the weekly paper a month or two earlier, a white male writer in his early thirties will have opined that the CD, â€œeven at its most raucous, is more restrainedâ€ than the live band.
And there it is: art vs. commerce.
As a result we have the odious Music Industry. Dope pedlars and schmucks, telling us music = CDs, CDs = lifestyle. Their customers like CDs, find their effects palliative. As spiritual lidocaine, CDs have their place, but compared to the magnificent thing they purport to mimic, my god theyâ€™re boring. Because what are they but clones of a single faked performance, executed over the course of weeks or months, expressly to make money? They’re like cheap lucite souvenir paperweights, cheesy baubles with the stink of mercenary all over’em. Of what value are they?
Wouldnâ€™t it be simpler, and prettier, to chuck the cheesy bauble, and just have the art? If music recordings didnâ€™t exist, not only would car commercials be silent at last, but music would be cool again. Admit it; you are dying to see what these Bays are all about. Maybe theyâ€™re great, and the show would be a hoot. And maybe they suck, so thank god they havenâ€™t inflicted themselves on posterity. Either way, it’s a win-win.