Sunday, December 09, 2007

In-Store Pornography

Last night I went to see a free in-store performance by the New Pornographers at the Apple Store in SoHo with my friend Kristin. I’ve been to a few in-store shows over the years (Cold War Kids, Guster, Dana from Ominous Seapods, Badly Drawn Boy, Jonah Smith, Gov’t Mule and Secret Machines to name a few) and have always found them amusing, if not thoroughly entertaining. There’s nothing like placing a musician on display like a new product to make them feel awkward and I can’t help but feel awkward for them. Seeing a show at the Apple Store is even more awkward because it’s easier to charge your iPod than to score a drink at the so called “genius bar” (which isn’t too smart in my humble opinion) and, unless you get there early enough to secure a seat, they tend to stuff you in the back like overflow merchandise. To their credit the New Pornographers put on a great, high energy show, which lasted far longer than many of the indie rock shows I’ve seen over the years (a solid 40 minutes, plus an encore). Neko Case also played with her occasional bandmates which was a special treat, though given our spot in the room, her face was strangely reminiscent of a metal support beam.

But the one real problem with the show, and most in-store performances in general, was the awkward stage banter and eerie silent pauses between songs. Unlike a crowded rock room, where silence between songs is expected, at in-store shows musicians feel the need to be funny and every…single…word…seems to take on some overly weighty meaning. Honestly, I feel bad because most musicians I’ve met over the years aren’t that funny and, quite frankly, they shouldn’t have to be. It’s as if I was presenting at a conference on being neurotic and had to participate in a spelling bee between lectures on the suburban Oedipus complex and compulsive behavior under stressful circumstances (two of my specialties). Kristin said it reminded her of going to see a bad comedy at the movies where nobody laughed, which apparently is one of her greatest fears (perhaps she is speaking after me at the above mentioned conference). Thankfully, the evening did have its share of funny moments, mostly thanks to the event’s security, which consisted of Freaks & Greeks approved Apple Store Clerks with VIP passes placed over their pocket protectors, which apparently only granted them access to the data ports behind the onstage projectors (but imagine what you can plug into with an All Access pass…)

I also think it’s funny that the Apple II GS I used to play “The Oregon Trail” on has managed to beget an empire so large that it is now, reportedly, responsible for 80% of the music market. Now if I could only convince Hot Chip to cover “The Oregon Trail” theme song (and finally make it across the Columbia River without killing all my video game Oxen…did I just date myself to 1988?).

1 comment:

J$ said...

best thing about instore appearances... they're free.