On the Value of Local Music
*Spoiler Alert: I may gush. Just a little, just this once.
Music in its best form is a shared experience. Even in solitary moments – when that specific album is the only possible therapy for a long sad drive or solo living room dance party – the act of its creation can’t help but resonate under the music’s actual voice. When it’s great, the human process behind what is on record is an inherent part of the sum, immune to fetishization.
So, getting to watch that art unfold in live technicolor is, for me, unparalleled. Obviously that’s not an original sentiment. The touring industry in North America is estimated to rake in over six billion dollars a year (and I assume that figure only really spotlights the mainstream). Like most everyone, I’ve spent excessively to see big-ticket acts fill up stadiums so vast they force me to confront my own minuscule futility in the face of overwhelming and chaotic universal forces. But those aren’t the memorable nights. The palpable supportive outpouring of a creative enclave cheering on each other’s every stab and venture – that is what’s special about music on the local level.
If you know me, you’ve probably heard me express disbelief at whatever absurd good fortune has made me privy to this community, made me feel like a teensy part of it occasionally. For me, a great local show stimulates two feelings. The first is that disbelieving gladness; the second is fear. It’s exactly what happens in me when it rains in Los Angeles: the fear of squandering a rare moment of potential beauty. It’s an arresting and helpless feeling which even though it’s the late half of a Tuesday night keeps me out driving nowhere because to go home would be to declare it a part of my past.
It’s pretty immaterial whether or not my neighbors in local venue audiences across the city can relate to any of this. What we’ve all come to watch is the collaboration of individuals in making something singular and organic. The things that can occur in the context of a music venue – and nowhere but that context – are things I’m not too cynical to say are fucking magical sometimes. They’re happening every week. I swear, I keep waiting for it to get old, and it just doesn’t.
Originally published on Metronome LA in August, 2015