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Posts Tagged ‘The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’

Ignored 92: Recounting Pitchfork

In Graphic on June 15, 2016 at 2:56 am

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Ignored 52: Too festive

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2015 at 12:57 am

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Ignored 11: Setlists without prejudice

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2013 at 3:03 am

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Bold statement: When a band plays a concert (ne: “gig”), more often than not, there is a template (in a broad sense) that is followed when the setlist is composed. This needs to be commented on.

Underrated website alert: http://www.setlist.fm/

Setlist.fm is an awesome resource for concert goers and although its Wiki-esque architecture doesn’t always lend itself to things like “accuracy”, it still is a wonderful online destination to revisit your favourite concert memories. Just recently, it allowed me to revisit the splendor that was this and this but not this.

Spend five minutes on the website and you’re liable to be struck by how similar a lot of concert setlists are. There is a cadence that bands tend to follow with respect to the energy and approach to setlist architecture. Sequencing is key, not unlike crafting a mix tape or planning a murder in cold blood.

In an effort to kill the guest work (and an excuse to create a PDF), here is the Completely Ignored Setlist Template (CIST) that bands can follow to help them craft exceeding predictable setlists. This is based on a 15-song setlist model (12 tunes in the regular set, three in the encore). Lots of variance in reality of course but nine times out of 10, you could plug and play and your fans would be none the wiser.

PDF Download: Completely Ignored Setlist Template

Song #1: The band’s second biggest hit (or equivalent)!!! This should be a recognizable, high energy number or if not high energy, at least something that builds momentum or anticipation or excitement. Bonus points if it works thematically, as was the case with Pulp’s comeback appearance at the 2011 Reading Festival. Similarly, we should seriously hope that the Smiths never reunite but if they do, is there any doubt that this song will be the opener of their first comeback gig?

Song #2: An exciting song!!! Easily the best baseball analogy of this entry, the #2 song needs to rival the #2 hitter in a batting order. Characteristics will include reliability, focus, grit, etc. This song/hitter is pivotal to keep momentum strong and can seriously thwart the setlist/batting order if it’s a proverbial “rally killer”. Typically an older song BTW.

Song #3: A strong song from the new album This is where we take a step back. Assumedly. Even if your favourite band’s new album is well received, chances are, a majority of the crowd will only have a cursory interest in hearing anything new aside from the track that is widely regarded as the best of the bunch. Everything else will be kind of… meh!!! Bands try to curb this by frontloading with one of their better new tracks. Probably won’t work.

Song #4: A less strong song from the new album See Song #3 and subtract 25 per cent in the interest column. The initial jolt of “hey, the concert has started” will have worn off and upwards of 30-40 per cent of the audience will become a bit antsy. This song probably doesn’t suck but again, the unfamiliarity will cause energy levels to flatten.

Song #5: A reasonably well-received older song By no means the band’s biggest hit but something that should have some level of recognition from the back catalogue. A reaction from a typical audience member would be “I’m glad this isn’t another new song… but this probably isn’t the song I’D choose!” Line-ups at the bar and washrooms will grow by 20-25 per cent during this track, depending on length (of song).

Song #6: New song / rest song / ZZZZZZZZZ The place in the show where half-soused couples start fighting. This song is probably slower and lets the band rest. Don’t be shocked or offended if a band member (or multiple band members) drink beer, juice, cocktails or water during this tune. It may happen.

Song #7: New song / rest song / ZZZZZZZZZ 2.0 The girl or guy walks out. If there’s going to be a fight in the crowd, NOW’S THE TIME!!!

Song #8: Older song with experimental “noodling” It’s true. A lot of bands will go all Grateful Dead at this point in the setlist, either to breathe life into something old or out of sheer tedium. The results could either be awesome or a complete train wreck. Sometimes, it’s both! A recent study shows that a band member will sneak offstage to smoke a cigarette in 20 per cent of concerts during this tune.

Song #9: Obscure B-side or deep album cut Definitely not for the sweethearts, this stage in the setlist is a bit of a “no man’s land” for all but the most diehard fans. It’s the place to slot in that random song from an earlier album that likely wasn’t that good to begin with but at least will give annoying pukes a chance to overemote in an effort to legitimize of their fandom (in their own eyes). It’s alright and OK.

Song #10: Semi-recent hit that girls like and drunk people will get excited about This is where the set gears back up and salvages the concert for those who ain’t into noodling or “deep cuts”. The concert is likely around an hour in by this point. The end of the set is on the horizon. The band is rested and rejuvenated from their delicious water breaks or cigarette pauses. Overall, they’re ready to “bring this home” as they say in amateur sports and really lame boardrooms.

Song #11: Loud, high energy song A bit of a “table setter” for the closer, this song must ensure that lethargy has been cleared from the room (or outdoor space) so the outfit is primed to end things on a high note. This is also the best opportunity for some “random mosh pit” action which could be a fight or could just be some random lush being passed around into oblivion. Probably the best chance for personal injury to occur is during this song.

Song #12: The current single Ok, maybe not the current single but it’s the last song of the set proper and at very least, this should be a song for everybody. Ideally, this song lends itself to a disingenuous extended outro. I mean, everybody knows the encore is to follow but the band needs to act like it’s their last song. Because that’s just what is done.

Aside: Can we seriously ditch this little charade of “will they or won’t they come back out???” at concerts between the main setlist and the encore(s). I get that the band members need to pee or whatever but between the rhythmic applause, the hootin’, the hollering’, the lame chants and the like, it’s a piece of theatre we can do without. Ideally, the venue should include a little countdown clock on-stage a la New Year’s Eve or the TTC so you know the precise moment that the band will return. In short, attending a concert needs to be more like riding public transit.

Song #13: Underwhelming song Chalk this up to the fact the band was likely just in the bathroom and/or smoking dope but the first song of the encore is typically a bit of a letdown. Often, it’ll be some completely forgettable album cut from their new album and it’ll make the audience feel like all their whistling and rhythmic applause was for nothing! #buzzkill

Song #14: Well-received cover song That’s more like it! Hipsters and “serious” music fans loathe to admit it but everybody loves cover songs. File under “Hell, why not”.

Song #15 The band’s most famous song of all-time!!!!! Trite and predictable but often true.

Aside: Somebody went on setlist.fm and switched all these songs played during Sloan’s Twice Remove anniversary tour stop in Loretto, Ontario (?!?) to song titles that involve either cows, cattle or other farm-based themes. We clearly live in a Wiki-world.

Ignored 7: The ascendants

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2013 at 2:06 am

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Bold Statement: Headlining the Coachella Festival has become arguably the single greatest means of confirming your superstar status in the modern musical climate.

The official Coachella Festival “Rumors/Gossip/Wish List” forum is a great website to visit if you like to talk about posters on the Internet. With the 2013 version of the festival now in the books, the forum is already in crap-talking overload, speculating about 2014 and beyond.

Its patrons display seriously obsessiveness tendencies and much of this discussion revolves around the iconic Coachella poster. Specifically, there is much talk about where certain bands reside on the poster in terms of position and most importantly, in terms of font-sized. Basically if you get a thick, dense font goin’, you’ve made it!!

It’s a unique counterweight to an event that has veered widely from being about music in recent years and into becoming an exercise in  fashion, branding and other things.

…. and yet, Dead Can Dance still gets booked.

Here is a sampling of the poster fervour (P.F.) you can find on this website:
icedKeg: Low billing [for Purity Ring] on the poster doesn’t necessarily mean a daytime spot.
Bumblebee: Some versions of the poster have Blur first and some have Stone Roses. Wonder if they will swap final spot between weekends.
HeavensWeep: What the [heck] is Kurt [Vile] doing so low on the poster in such teeny-weeny font size?
jayrizzo: Stoked to see [Wild Belle] on poster!

It’s an interesting and slightly nerdy subculture that seems more akin to fantasy baseball (which is awesome BTW) than musical fandom since it’s all about predicting and positioning and the like. However, in 2013, headlining the Coachella festival (or getting big-ass poster font, in the forum’s pig latin) is a great indicator that you have hit a new strata of stardom as an artist. In year’s past, being on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine or appearing on Saturday Night Live was perhaps this indicator. No longer. Or not so much.

This is a complete list of outfits that have headlined Coachella (multiple time headliners shown in brackets):
– Beastie Boys
– Beck
– Bjork (2)
– Black Keys
– Blur
– Coldplay
– Depeche Mode
– Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg
– Gorillaz
– Jack Johnson
– Jane’s Addiction
– Jay-Z
– Kanye West
– Kings of Leon
– Muse
– Nine Inch Nails
– Oasis
– Paul McCartney
– Phoenix
– Prince
– Radiohead (2)
– Rage Against the Machine
– Red Hot Chili Peppers (3)
– Roger Waters
– Stone Roses
– The Arcade Fire
– The Cure (2)
– The Killers
– Tool (2)

In most cases, these headliners made sense from a dollars and draw perspective. However, especially in the last five years and perhaps in an effort to avoid repeat headliners, organizers have shown a willingness to push former small font-sters into headliner status and thusly, cement them as something in the hearts and minds of…. well, some random people on the Internet.

Phoenix in 2013 fit the bill and no doubt inspired a lot of “I had no idea they were THAT popular” discussions. You could also point to the Black Keys in 2012, Kings of Leon and the Arcade Fire in 2011, Muse in 2010 and Jack Johnson in 2008 as artists who made the leap.

I refer to these outfits as the ascendants.

Now, getting back to our friends in “Rumors/Gossip/Wish List” land, speculation on future ascendants is always rampant. Organizers seem willing to roll the dice on at least one fresh headliner each year. So based on the sample size of 2008-2013, we should continue to see a fresh yield of ascendants for the remainder of this decade.

Here is some speculation on 10 former Coachella small font-sters who could make the leap by 2019.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Purely from a draw perspective, both the Stone Roses and Blur headlining over the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on Day One 2013 was a bit of a head scratcher (which says nothing of quality since all three are quite fantastic). While they’re not quite at stadium status, aesthetically then YYYs seem like a bit of a bullseye for the Coachella crowd: visually interesting, immediate, based in NYC, etc. Still, they were plopped in a “big not that big” font size for 2013. Assumedly, they’ll be shucking their 5th full-length by the next go-round of consideration (assuming they don’t implode) so there is still time for a full ascension, one would think.

Sigur Ros: The Icelandic weirdos provide the kind of sweeping grandiose platitudes that hipsters and (really) everybody else loves and again, a wonder that Phoenix headlined over them already during Day Two 2013.

Mumford and Sons: Liam Gallagher’s thoughts aside, very surprising that these guys didn’t headline at one of the nights at Coachella 2013. Probably was because they were already dabbed to headline a pantload of other festivals across the globe in the coming months. I’m not sure that stylistically, these guys will have staying power as stadium fillers but anything is possible, I guess.

Deadmau5: He already headlined Lollapalooza so a Coachella headlining slot doesn’t seem farfetched at all. Could be a matter of whether Daft Punk beats him to the punch. He did kinda sorta morph their gimmick so either way…

Tiësto: One of those guys I know nothing about besides the fact he’s massively popular and plays large rooms. And stuff like this happens when he plays, which gets bigger reactions than the Stone Roses apparently.

Frank Ocean: What would Frank do? A bit of a contradiction because commercially and critically, Frank would seem to be on a fast track to headliner status. But he doesn’t seem too interested in playing live at the best of times so big picture, it’s hard to see him at this point developing those large font chops.

Florence + the Machine: Florence Welch is beloved and splashy. This much we know. Considering Coachella’s heavy fashion slant in recent years, the promise of MULTIPLE costume changes (!!!) could be an admission of sorts from organizers. The music would be completely fine as well.

Justice: See the pattern emerge: if there is not a bon afide “traditional” headliner available (i.e. guitars), just etch out a big name electronic act and create a veritable… super rave! The last Justice album was kinda loopy (i.e. sounded like Rush at times) but also kinda underrated in my opinion. The next one is shaping up to be a fork-in-the-road moment but these guys seem engaged enough to pull off something massive if needed.

Bon Iver: You could probably swap Bon Iver for Vampire Weekend or the National if needed as the potential next generation Phoenix-esque ascendants. They all play guitars and again, Coachella seems to prefer that its headliners play guitars. Objectively, Bon Iver seems like they’d be a bit of a soft touch as a headliner but there’s the Kanye bromance so maybe some surprise collabo could work.

David Guetta: See Tiësto and acknowledge Guetta’s insane YouTube view counts.