I went to see my friend’s band, Left and Right, play at Boylan Heights on Friday October 23rd. They were playing a show for the after party for Virginia Alpine Ski and Snowboard Team’s (VASST) movie premier of “Re: Session”. The band consists of my friend, Zak Krone (Drums), Phil Dameron (Guitar/Vocals), Daniel Merchant (Guitar/Vocals), Andrew Abbott (Bass/Vocals). They played indie rock music, alternating between slower and faster songs. I liked that almost all the members of the band sing during the show even if they were not the best singers of the group; however, one intoxicated member of the band probably should not have been singing. My favorite part of the show was when they played a cover of “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire.
Most people in their “audience” were not actually there to listen to the music: they were either there for the VASST event or there to eat and drink. The demographics of the audience were very diverse, with a large amount of both men and women, as well as many different ethnicities and ages. The people who were visibly listening to the music were mostly white and standing or sitting near the bar rather than in front of the stage. For this reason, perhaps, there was not much interaction between the band and the audience. A few people, five at the most, danced for a couple of the songs; other than this, though, few people seemed to notice the band at all. Left and Right did not receive a negative reaction to their music, but they also did not necessarily move the crowd either. After their set was over, one of the guitarists said jokingly, “Thank you everyone…sorry for bothering you,” which received a few laughs.
I thought this lack of interaction with the audience was shyness or indifference on the part of the band members, but after attending a show tonight at the Tea Bazaar in which Left and Right opened for two other indie rock bands, I could see that they were quite capable of positive interaction with their audience. I found that the difference here was between the venues, the occasion, and who played in the show itself. At Boylan Heights, they were playing by themselves and for an event that was not solely their own, and in a venue that was primarily catering to people looking to eat and drink. At the Tea Bazaar, they were playing for their own event, with bands of a similar sound and genre, and for an audience that was drawn to the music itself. The audience was eagerly standing and dancing in front of the stage rather than sitting across the room at the bar. I also found it interesting that the audience at the second show was far less diverse, consisting of mostly white young people. Although there was still a mix of males and females, there was a muhc higher concentration of males at the Tea Bazaar show.
The differences in demographics between the audience members of each show reminded me of the concept of rock music being associated with music that is more “real”, “authentic” and “masculine.” At Boylan Heights, the show lacked a pure interest in the music and thus lacked any. At the Tea Bazaar, the masculine atmosphere and the “authenticity” of the event itself (purely for music rather than for the VASST event) made the indie-rock show seem more successful and enjoyable for both the band itself and for their audience members. Most of the people who expressed adoration for or a connection with the music (dancing, singing along, etc.) were young males, and many of these males attended the show together. This comparison supports the idea of brotherhood being associated with rock music, even in modern indie-rock genres.
For videos of the Boylan Heights show: