The Band is King, The King is Dead

Or The Band is Dead, Long Live the Band

I love a good rock and roll band that has been well rehearsed, seasoned on the road, the unity of the ensemble forged by friendships, rivalries or something in between. Creative differences leading to implosions or surprising legacies of collaborative output. All that stuff is golden. But usually for about and album or two, maybe just a single. Then, even if it works for a while, there is the letdown, the slow period where the chemistry is off, the revival period where everything is just a repackaged version of something that was better the first time around. Sometimes the pinnacle is just one song, one show, maybe it never even happened in a time and place where it was recorded or anybody was even there to listen.

When considering the band in the context of the rehearsal space it seems to me the two are not very well suited to long term leasing commitments. It is in fact just such expenses that can cause bands to implode, especially at the transition stage into something that could be economically viable. Still having a place to make music is an extremely useful thing for any fledgling musical ensemble. One solution is to ban the band. There is no band, only individual players, tunes and the community in which the musical activity occurs. Another is to say the band may come and go as it wishes but the space belongs to its users. I think this model sees collaboration as something that can occur between many different participants, sometimes in a way that is locked in to a certain core group of people, other times maybe built around a network of collaborators and interchangeable parts. How can the space facilitate a practical, natural musical experience that is reflective of the way musicians actually interact?

What is the collective art experience? Who is the band playing for? Themselves? The community? How is the experience of music changing and how should artists respond?

In any city of over 100,000 people how many outstanding musicians will there be who can be said to be part of a community? If, as a model, this group adopted the attitude and composure of a mutual support society, or a co-operative, instead of fracturing itself into the neurotic and exclusionary mindset of bands, they could choose to collaborate, or not, under many more varied circumstances, some not even including playing together, without feeling like they were hurting each other’s feelings any time some member of the community wanted to play a solo gig or create a sound outside of the confines of the nuclear band. Also they would be better situated to exchange information that would be mutually beneficial, without having to feel like they were traitors to some cultural niche or team, which the band, cult or genre might dictate under the conventional norms of musical production. So many other things cause problems for bands that are secondary to the music. Money, romantic engagements, external influencers, unscrupulous agents, unsanitary venues, bad food, drugs and alcohol, the weather, roommates, micro-decisions about whether things should be acoustic or electric and when and how loud… the list goes on. Community oriented music is as natural as the fact that a certain set number of music venues in a given geographical area will dictate the options for performing and viewing live music in that area. Now that my band days are likely behind me, I want to try making music in a community space.

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