Performance Punishment – Why Our Scene is Stagnant

  • Written by Kyle Gregorowski
  • Published in Editorials

It’s been a while since I’ve felt the need to throw an opinion to the ravenous wolves that make up the local music scene, but I have had a brooding suspicion that something foul is afoot that simply cannot be contained any longer.

Those of you who so loyally follow our musings here at Underground Press know that we are champions of the local scene. We fight hard to make sure that you have news, info and opinion first. We exist to keep a finger on the Africanised pulse that beats like a drum throughout this little scene of ours.

Over the last few months, that pulse has become regular. Our vitals are safe. The scene, to extend the whole patient/survivor metaphor I am stretching so thinly here, is in a stable condition – it’s being kept overnight for observation, but everyone seems confident about where we are.

And that really, really worries me.

The problem is that we are starting to get a hang of this whole music scene thing. Granted, there are huge discrepancies in the way that we pay (or don’t) our artists; there is a shortage of venues; record deals border on creative rape and the same guys we applauded ten years ago are still expected to lead the way. But, we’ve grown. Artists are learning how to promote themselves. People go to shows. We use Facebook to share opinion, sounds, discoveries. We even have local artists trending on Twitter.

The problem is that with stability comes stagnation. As any creative spirit will tell you, complacency is the guillotine of great ideas. I for one am a little worried that our well-oiled circuit is churning our radio-friendly sound bites that lack the soul, sweat and integrity that makes music transcend sound and move into the realm of an experience. Remember the first time you saw Francois van Coke destroy a set when you were in high school? Or the way that first Fuzigish pit bruise took weeks to heal, a badge of honour that made you smile every time it stung? Even that first Kurt Darren sokkie session when you grabbed that girl’s bum meant more than just a moment.

And that’s what’s missing.

Which would you prefer – a regular scene where you can watch a well-rehearsed, comfortable band perform adequately? Or a raw, scum show with a band that doesn’t know how to use social media to shout at you, but rather, how to make your brain bleed happiness all over your excited skin?

Don’t be fooled – we are a generation away from the musical equivalent of Animal Farm. Read a book, make something new and don’t become dependent on a scene that glosses over grit in favour of glamour.