Bring It On Home, Bring It On, Homes!, or Some Take-Homes from Inaugurating This Means Gnar
When Bettina and I decided to start a new music review site with a focus on lesser-known music from our — how to phrase this? — cultural capital of the Western world, the question arose of how to make such an enormous amount of content manageable.
Namely, there are fifteen million bands (give or take) in New York City, all playing every night of the week, releasing an EP at every show, with a different lineup each time they play. Some of them are even playing matinee shows and doubling up. They’re also on tour during all of this, playing all across the country. This is a universal truth that I am not even mildly exaggerating.
So while Bettina was doing the Herculean work of putting together a website, I took the coward’s way out, and I peered into the Vast and Ancient Book of Faces to see what bands I had “liked” in my long and storied tenure in New York. I then weeded out those bands that had moved away or broken up, and I pulled the number down to something that was still terrifying, and then I said to myself, “You know, you’re the stupidest human who ever lived for doing this,” and then I prepared a spreadsheet of all of these bands, including contacts, the band’s description of their sound, and any small label affiliation they might have.
Then, I listened to every. single. band. on the list. I have some thoughts.
1. Most of you are wonderful at making music:
A lot of you came here to play music. Some of you even came here to go to school to learn how to play music more effectively. Some of you didn’t come here to play music, but came here and felt compelled to play music by the sheer force of all the people here playing music. When I arrived here, I had never played in a serious band, but I remember thinking, “Well, I’m in New York City, I should be able to find some people who want to play exactly what I want to play, right?” It’s real. The centrifugal strength of our music scene is something very real and worth celebrating.
And here’s the thing: you’d think that, in such a huge scene, there’d be a lot of trash. But there isn’t, really. The same way you’ve never eaten a truly terrible meal in New York City*: the talent, and the competition, and — let’s face it — the amount of rent you have to pay to live here ensure that the quality’s going to remain high. So, congratulations, if you’re playing music here, now, and have been for a minute, you’re not terrible. Strong work.
*Editor's Note: Unless you've gone to flavor town. Not to worry, none of y'all are Guy Fieri's mom, right? — Bettina, 6/9/2016, 2:13pm
2. A good number of you are, however, terrible at describing yourselves:
You know who you are. You know what you’re trying to do. And we’re onto you.
Words mean things. That’s why we use them when we want to mean things. Meaning is important, and you should embrace what you are and aren’t. I could have a whole subsection here called, “You Are Not A Surf Rock Band,” or “You Keep Using This Word ’Surf’: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.” I could have another called “S(t)ay What You Are: Embracing Being An Emo Band in 2016.” Let’s also be judicial with “experimental,” yeah? It doesn’t just mean improvisational, and it definitely doesn’t just mean weird or dissonant. It’s like calling your own song an “anthem.” You kinda gotta let somebody else say it, or most of the time it just feels gross. I'm not just being judgy-wudgy here.
Let’s all just be honest, and have fun with our descriptions. “Party Metal”? I’m listening. “Goofy and Intimidating”? Well, I’ve gotta listen to that now. “Maximum Boogie”? I see what you did there, and I like it.
So catchy, so funny, so weird. And on that EP, right after “I Swallow Your Hair”? A towering achievement. Low fidelity, high reward.
I’ve known this one for a long time, I just needed to get it off my chest. I’m lucky I know so many awesome women playing in bands these days so I can still share a piece of their stage sometimes. That's gnar. That's damn gnar.
5. A lot of you need to be lot better known:
But hey, that’s why we’re doing this thing, yeah? Keep us posted on what you do, and we’ll be there whenever we can. Just drop us a line here: http://www.thismeansgnar.com/submit/