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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Isn't Tupac Dead?

Did you hear the news?  The annual Coachella Music and Arts fest in California has risen the dead.   Previously known for its varied artists and performers who gather at the hip festival, Coachella is now synonymous with "miracle worker. "

The big news from this past weekends event was not sets from an extraordinary lineup...  like Dr Dre, Snoop, Dawes, Gary Clark Jr, Bon Iver, Fitz and The Tantrums, AWOL Nation, The Shins, Hives, Beirut, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, and Radiohead among them.  

The headline that still permeates was about the hologram set by, long deceased,  Tupac Shakur.  That's right, West Coast was in the house via Star Trek-esque technology.

This is not a recent phenomenon, save for the advances made by the effects themselves.  Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra have had "virtual reality" shows in the past.  Some performers have such an impact their art is timeless, immortal.  Folks will line up forever to see their efforts recreated.  Take a look at the weekend performers playing locally near you.  Any Beatles tribute bands or lounge lizards?   It's cool.  Nostalgia is great and without the songs of the past where would we be today?

But we should be stopping short of shelling out money to see a "virtual" performance.  Isn't the purpose of live music about the visceral connection between artist and performer?  An opportunity to see the flaws and imperfections of a human performance.  The bond and trust that comes with the shared vision of the artist on stage.  They may make a mistake.  They may make eye contact with you.   Maybe the guitarist will throw a guitar pick your way.  What if you want to throw your bra?  Is a virtual Tupac gonna catch it??  Hells no.   He ain't connecting with you.  And let's not forget,  he ain't making a 50 cent either.

Isn't it bad enough we like our television to be void of content these days?  Reality shows and karaoke contests rule the day.  Have we also become so lazy that we crave "virtual" entertainment to "real?" in our live acts.   Does this also discount the countless bands who take stage, most vulnerable, and hone their craft?  What of their efforts to win fans?  Or their efforts to establish crowd rapport and gain notoriety?  Now they have to compete with Tron?

Let's establish the technology is amazing.  There is no argument there.  But this is moviemaking, not concert going.

It is hard enough making a career out of popular music these days.  Hell, it has always been hard.

Tupac should be playing in your local multi-plex, not crowded venues filled with naive and impressionable youngsters.  And this isn't anti-rap thing either.  Some acts, like Beastie Boys, Lil Wayne, Eminem, Jay-Z,...  are quite good live.  The operative word is "live," as in ALIVE.

Alive, or among the living.  The one necessary component for any concert.  Otherwise you might as well be in front of your big screen eating Bon Bons.  

But we are probably now past the point of no return.  Somewhere in Palo Alto, Bruce Springsteen, or Zeppelin, or any of the rock cannon, are being programmed digitally.

When they die countless baby boomers and their annoying offspring will head to their local concert hall to see them perform "virtually."

And another up and coming band, reaching for the sky, will go unheard.

We, as replicants, can do a better job.   We haven't even spoken about the lip synchers either.  Next time.

In the meantime take a look at some highlights from ACTUAL performances last weekend here: Coachella Live Highlights!!!

And go see/support live music...  from your local bar to Madison Square Garden!!! 

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