When watching a band live...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by jobu3, Jun 12, 2005.

  1. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    I saw two touring bands recently that had bassists who had technique that rubbed me the wrong way because of how it looked.

    The bassist for Mr. Crowe's Garden (the Black Crowes) played a Sadowsky 4-string jazz through a Mesa 400/Ampeg 810. His onstage tone was decent, FOH was good also and not too boomy (which is atypical of the room he was in) I actually thought it was a little too chunky sounding. He utilized a finger-style that used all four RH fingers and he floated them around never planting his thumb anywhere. It looked like he was grabbing at the strings clumsily and it looked pretty awkward. His playing was OK and that's the important thing but I really was put off by watching him. I really enjoyed the show otherwise.

    I saw the Go-Go's in A.C. on Friday (hey, the G.F. went to see Medeski, Martin, & Wood with me, at least I got to gamble a little... Made out pretty good at the roulette wheel). We had seats at a table right at the front of the stage. My G.F. was literally leaning on it. The bassist picked a P-bass through a an SVT/Classic 810. I don't play with a pick but I can appreciate good pick tone. Her tone wasn't that great nor was her playing. She picked over the second to last fret or so and she looked like I feel when I pick... Goofy. She sounded too boomy (no substance to her sound at all) onstage and FOH was cleaned up a little but not much. Overall, this show was actually a good time. Vocals were surprisingly good and the drummer was entertaining and save for a couple of botched chords here and there, the guitars weren't all that bad.

    So, how important is it to look like you know what you're doing? I've never really made a conscious effort to "look cool" when I'm playing. I had a video of my one band playing at a party. IMO, I sounded pretty good and didn't look too toady technique-wise. I've seen peope dig in with picks and get great tone that I enjoyed watching and listening to. John Entwistle used all four fingers and grabbed and pulled at strings but he did so with utmost grace and style. If these recent venues weren't so intimate and I was not so close to the stage, I most likely wouldn't have these gripes on aesthetics. If they had the most righteous tone I'd heard in a while, I'd say who cares what it looked like.

    What are your thoughts on this? :confused:
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    As long as they sound good AND are 'working it'...I don't really care how they look(technique-wise).
    If their technique(or lack thereof) is enough for them to get their point across, so be it.

    Now in the case of your Go-Go's example...it makes it doubly hard to watch/listen when you can hear & see that someone may not have stayed in the shed enough to hone their craft a bit.
    I know, I know...the Go-Go's are supposed to have Punk roots & all that, still.

    Also, it is fun watching & hearing someone who has it all together...tone, ideas, & solid technique.
  3. Technique is no longer an issue with me. I guess what bothers me is when a musician looks like they'd rather be elsewhere or terrified of being on stage. Too cool, too scared, too shoegazey.

    I used to find "chin dwellers" amusing. Yes, I realize that it gives you more control and a better angle for your wrist, but I rarely enjoy the music made by people that are chin dwellers- so it doesn't matter if the musicianship is better or more ergonomically correct if you're not enjoying the rock.

    Now I barely notice if someone is a chin dwelller or has "bad technique" I just notice if the band is rockin' and if they look like they're having a good time.
    So... Is Jane Wiedlin still hot?
  4. Like you even have to ask...she is still sa-mokin, if "surreal life seaon 4" is any indicator... daymn...screw Belinda C, I was always about Jane W. :D
  5. KeithPas


    May 16, 2000
    "So... Is Jane Wiedlin still hot?"

    The answer to that question is a big yes.
  6. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    I don't care how someone looks playing their instrument. If it sounds good and they appear to be enjoying it, I'm in. I don't care if they look perfect, have killer tone, have smooth as butter technique, or $20,000+ in equipment if they don't show me that they enjoy playing their own music.

    However, my pet peave is I don't like people who stand there staring at their fretboard. :scowl:

    Oh yea, BTW, Jane has always been hot!
  7. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    Actually, Jane and Belinda walked by us (as in almost brushed up against us) on the boardwalk the next day. They were both very hot. :smug:
  8. On the one hand I want to say that appearance is everything. I mean where would Bootsy Collins be without the outfit? Probably playing bass for James Brown. What a terrible gig! On the other hand I want to say that appearance is nothing and the music is everything. But, a couple years ago I saw a great country swing band with two Teles and the guys had them so high on their chests that it looked like Fred Erkle. I ususally don't mind how anybody straps on a guitar, but they could have used their chins to mute the strings. It actually interferred with my enjoyment for the first 30 minutes of the show. Then I loosened up and got into the music. I hate to say it, but sometimes appearance does count and Bootsy's costume interfers with my enjoyment of what he can do.
  9. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    You know, the real problem with moving your right hand around all over the place is that your tone and attack keeps changing.

    That makes it really difficult for a sound man to slot you in the mix.

    The denser the mix, the louder the band, the harder it is.

    If that guy hadn't been playing a Sadowsky he'd have been hosed for sure.
  10. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Sometimes I realise that I'm mentally criticising someone else's choices about playing style or smugly thinking how they'd be able to play that line so much better if they realised they were allowed to use their pinky... However, I try not to get locked into that. I'd rather appreciate the performance for what it is; I certainly don't want to spend all my stage time worrying about what other people are thinking about me rather than enjoying making the music!

    Actually, one thing I have been conscious of for a while is my left hand. I tend to keep my fingers fairly close together, flattish and relaxed - that way, the LH mutes the higher strings while 'floating thumb' on the RH deals with the lower strings (I'm normally on a six string bass). A lot of passages just seem to need first finger and pinky on the LH, leaving the others relatively underemployed.

    However, that means my second finger is sticking up towards the audience, like I'm flipping them the bird! Nobody has commented yet but I'm working on a resting position that brings the finger tips closer to the strings is is perhaps less open to misinterpretation! :cool:

  11. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Here's Paul McCartney demonstrating the kind of thing I'm talking about:


  12. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003

    When i play fingerstyle with my three middle fingers, my pinky looks like it's having a spasm, wriggles wildly around.

    After a gig someone came up to me and asked if i had the parkinsons syndrome! :D
  13. KPJ

    KPJ Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    I've never seen anyone do that while playing bass, but I've notice Eric Clapton does, usually when playning 7th chords on acoustic. His left middle finger is erect at about 45 degree angle to the fretboard.
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Cool pic...looks like 4 buddies having fun on TV! ;)
    I noticed a horn section behind them, too. Very cool.

    Anyway, one of these Beatles' DVDs shows them playing "I Saw Her Standing There".
    It's painful to watch McCartney play that tune.
    ...and I would like to have been a bug on the wall hearing Paul fumble through "One Agfter 909" on the 1st Anthology disc.
  15. Justice


    May 24, 2002
    Houston TX.
    Not horns...cameras. ;)
  16. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    Not to derail the thread, but where did you go in AC? I almost went but I had to work...
  17. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    The Go-Go's were at the Sands in AC last Friday night. MMW were at the Staircase in Pittston, PA which is local to me in early May.
  18. Dan Molina

    Dan Molina TalkBass Secular Progressive

    Jul 17, 2002
    Murr Town, California
    I've never been bothered by seeing someone else technique unless I see their thumb resting on top of the neck. That really bothers me for some reason.
  19. FriscoBassAce


    Dec 29, 2004
    Frisco, Texas
    Independent Manufacturers Representative
    I too have trouble watching guys with their basses up high on their chests, as well as players who do nothing but stare at their feet throughout the entire show. Since I know what it's like to play on stage and have a little stage fright, I can empathize with the shoe/fretboard starers....but anyone can play well if they don't look up and look around. To me, they're not being good entertainers, which is what a good band strives should strive for. As for the guys who were their basses on their chests....let that strap out baby! It seems to me that it would HURT your wrist as opposed to helping it stay loose. Just my opinion though...........I could be wrong! :D