get your ass off the stage! an ode to self-absorbed, hack musicians.

I spent my weekend visiting unfamiliar haunts in my hometown, Bay City, Michigan, at the annual Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival. This event is a treasure, an absolute treasure, for mid-Michigan. I’ll have more on this later.

The only dark spot from my weekend was witnessing one of the most obnoxious, most self-absorbed, noisiest “musicians” I’ve ever seen. I didn’t bother getting his name. He may be a nice kid, I don’t know. But he was a horrendous live act that actually moved me to visceral anger. He was a one-man band who played the drums (via some contraption of foot pedals and a snare and high hat cymbal) and guitar simultaneously. And sang. And he was shitty at all three.

He really needs to learn how to:
* Tune his instruments
* Dial in volumes properly for the venue
* Hire a freakin’ drummer!

He spent a solid 30 minutes doing the check one…check two crap into the mics and strumming and beating on crap before actually sitting down to play. And when he played, he was so over-modulated and so distorted because he had everything turned up TOO loud. This is not an old man telling kids to turn it down. This is an old man telling a talent-free load to get his ass off the stage because he’s sucking the air out of the room by blasting noise at everyone. And after each song he’d get up and check the mics again. I’ve seen five-piece bands spend less time jacking with the mics than this dude!

He couldn’t keep a beat. He couldn’t play guitar very well. He couldn’t sing for shit. He had everything turned up so loud it was distorted and physically causing my ears pain.

No thanks.

To make matters worse, someone had the bright idea to invite him to the after-party on Saturday night. Big mistake. With the exception of a handful of odd admirers, he was considered more nuisance than artist. Thankfully, he was pulled off stage after a few ear-splitting minutes when people were annoyed.

With this one exception, all the music I heard at Hell’s Half Mile was outstanding. Some truly great artists performed. This kid was not one of them.

I went to his Myspace page and listened to a minute or so of his music. Not bad, but not great. He’s trying to be an all-in-one band a la Nine Inch Nails. Even Trent Reznor brings a band on tour. But I could at least hear the chords and lyrics on the recorded version because the sound was dialed in properly. The live show? An abysmal mess.

Learn to play or get your ass off the stage.

As bad as he was, it couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm for Hell’s Half Mile. It was a great event and I’ll share more about it soon.

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Filed under bay city, concert, hell's half mile, michigan, opinion

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