John Scholvin

John Scholvin

still can’t fit a half-stack in the trunk

29 Aug 2020

I thought it was going to be live

If you saw something that said, and I’m quoting directly here, “Please join us when your favorite band performs together as a band for the first time since March, live online from a rooftop in their hometown!” what would you expect? I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that you’d probably be expecting a live performance. For lots of reasons, among them being this is a thing we totally do now, but foremost being because that’s exactly what they said. 

How would you feel if you then forked over your money, logged in at the appointed hour, and instead saw a previously recorded, highly produced and edited long-form concert-like video? Beautifully performed, sounding and looking great, but definitely not live?

I know exactly how I felt about it: extremely disappointed. I love Dawes too much to have this affect my overall stance on them as a band, and I still eagerly await their new album which is coming out in early October. But I feel duped here. They betrayed my trust. And from a band for which, to me, one of the primary appeals is how honest and open-hearted they are, this really stung. No, it’s not on a par with the other tragedies unfolding around us in real time. It is, however, of a piece with the constant stream of insults to the heart that this era delivers, big and small.

It wasn’t a lot of money, and some of it went to Save Our Stages, which I support fully. Hell, even if they took it all for themselves, that’d be fine, too. Artists deserve compensation! I’m not sweating the money; in fact, I’d have probably bought this show even if I knew what I was getting. There wouldn’t be any bad feelings today if they were on the up-and-up about it, though.

Much more troubling, in the large, was the reaction I got to my very minor complaint on the community Facebook fan page. My post simply said “I thought it was going to be live. :-/” Now, as Facebook groups go, this is a super friendly, affable bunch. Very crunchy, very much what you might expect the fandom of a band like this to be. And everyone was polite in their responses, another sharp contrast to current norms. But the rush to defend the entity at the center of the Tribe led to all kinds of attempts to refute my point, from nonsense to non sequitur. Among them:

  • We should just be happy we got something from them in this time
  • The money is going to a great cause
  • It looks and sounds incredible
  • It’s live, just not today  (this was my favorite. LOL.)
  • Pre-recording it took the technical problems out of play
  • They worked hard to make this amazing for us
  • Are you sure it’s not live?
  • Get over it, it’s not that big a deal

All of these things are, I guess, true, but none were my point. (Except the “are you sure?” guy. Yes, it was a three-camera shoot, the mix and performance were flawless, and the sun went from high overhead until total nightfall over the course of 90 minutes. Plus they used footage from this same shoot on Kimmel two weeks ago, jackass.) In fact, I didn’t have a point, I was just expressing my feelings. And, again, while they were all unfailingly polite, and I’m sure that something like 90% of them would be aligned with my politics, I was much further bummed than I already was by how quickly they felt the need to circle the wagons. Even, maybe especially, over something as benign as this expression of mild disappointment in our mutual heroes. Heaven forbid.

Whatever this thing is that’s inside us all that drives us to these tribal reactions is something terrifying. If a bunch of middle-aged hippies will come out swinging, stretching the truth to defend their band who obviously lied to the fanbase—including themselves!—imagine what people will do when the stakes are much higher. Like in a couple of months.