Here at TMMP, I always do my best to provide constructive criticism while avoiding sycophancy and its polar opposite – the kind of brutal and mindless bile commonly found in YouTube comments.
This review, then, is the hardest I’ve ever had to write.
Each band / artist who played last night had moments that hinted at promise and potential. But more time, practice, and experience is needed in every case. Playing to an underwhelming turnout is a far more intimidating prospect that performing in front of a packed room – but it’s in such situations that professionals are separated from amateurs.
I’ve seen acts turn up to play for next to nobody and still knock it out of the park – and at times like that you can’t help but admire and respect those performers, regardless of whether or not you’re into the music they play. Once you’ve witnessed that level of generosity even once, it sticks with you; and when you watch an act be deflated and defeated by the same situation, you have to wonder why. At that point, it’s probably easiest to dismiss the musicians in question with whatever negative statements come to mind, and have done with it.
Last night’s show was not a professional-grade show. The Boileroom is an incredible venue, and extremely well-run; that was still the case last night, but the same level of professionalism was not offered by the acts. As I mentioned above, more practice is needed; but in particular, stage fright was a major issue.
Here’s the thing about stage fright: The less a performer cares what his / her audience thinks, the better their performance is. This means that the less a band or artist care about what I (or any other critic) might think, the higher their chances of getting a positive response and / or review. Some people take on review-writing as a way of letting off steam, taking out their frustrations, fears, and insecurities on other people – but I don’t. I go to shows hoping that every band gives their set everything they have, stun their audience rigid no matter its size, and have fun doing it. Last night, that just didn’t happen. And when it comes down to it, I have to be honest; if I’m not, then any praise I offer to anyone else means nothing.
When I go to review gigs, I certainly don’t hope that I end up writing a piece like this. In the time these five hundred all-but-pointless words took to write, I could have reviewed at least two incredible albums, enjoyed the process, been inspired to a higher quality of writing than that used here, and offered a couple of new favourite bands the kind of words they could stick up on press releases and tour posters while remaining honest and non-sycophantic. There might have been a couple of minor faults that I could point out – without feeling or sounding like an asshole – as points for future improvement, and that would have been that.
I sincerely hope that I don’t have to write another piece like this for a long time.