Originally published on atombash.com in 2009
So what counts as live music, anyway? The permutations are stretched far across the musical universe, ranging from people plunging their hands into pools of water for drumming rhythms, to triggered explosions of processed sound, created at the touch of a conscious action (a musician). The gamut in-between, of course, is where most musical experience lies. On a smaller scale, the hue and cry around the early-sixties Bob Dylan converting to the late-60’s Dylan reverberated through the halls of folk purity: the nature and quality of Bob Dylan’s performances cannot be said to have collapsed because of his move from strictly acoustic to his more dynamic electric instrumentation. Or could it?
Oh yes, that’s a can of worms. We are talking about music: nothing is wrong or right in this world.
Here’s how it went this week: Craig Whatshisname, the Scottish late-night host in L.A., was talking to the illuminating, former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, about a book she’s put out (a talk-show necessity). Somehow he ends up suggesting a Mohawk-coiffed headbanging to The Rotten Bastards, who seem to be a UK or US punk band. Imagine my surprise, when searching local information for live events, to see them playing in Calgary that very week, at The SODA on 17th Ave!
Except, of course, they’re not.
Andre returned my SODA phone call to inform me that HE (in the guise of Dre Ja Vue) is a Rotten Bastard, along with his fellow creator Intracut. They both perform as DJs regularly at The SODA, and when they work together they are Bastards. Metaphorically.
Andre’s a busy fellow: when he’s not returning messages from the SODA office, or playing his sets on different nights of the week, he’s bartending or helping clean up the place after the masses have left. Which is somewhere around 2 a.m.
This is where the ‘Live Music’ definitions become tricky. Well, yes, The Rotten Bastards do play ‘live’ in Calgary, mixing messing and morphing samples and keyboard input and other stuff for the dance crowd. So, The Rotten Bastards isn’t really a band in the proper sense, I said. “We don’t play instruments,” Andre replied, pausing. “Well, my turntable is my instrument.” True enough.
The older electronica I loved were ultimately abandoned. There’s probably more energy going on in this club than in a Jean-Michel Jarre or Kraftwerk performance, based on the apparent interactive nature of the DJ. Those earlier musics eventually felt stale and clinical. Prince’s work with electro-funk holds more appeal, more energy. Or Nine Inch Nails. DJ Shadow. Tons more exist.
More cans of worms . . . .
In any event, The SODA stands outside of the self-defined exploration of neighbourhood performers that this column suggested, but that will have to wait. Based on some online research of other SODA performers, it is much too interesting to miss.
But you don’t have to wait, do you? Neighbourhoods surround you. Well, most of you.
Happy New to All.