What are they leaving with?

Posted on November 5, 2010

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I’ve seen a number of shows throughout Los Angeles since the fall of the rock and roll era on the scene and I have to be honest when I say – most of them suck! No, really. So many artists just go on stage and stand there strumming four repetitive chords and singing bland and uninspiring lyrics over them with no harmonies, no power and no feeling.

Back in 1987, a show I often talk about for its amazing stage appeal was Iron Maiden and Waysted. Sure, Iron maiden ran around, had all the stage antics, inflatable figures, backdrop changes and lots of lights, but it was so much more than that. When Waysted played, they performed about 5 songs before the ignorant sons-a-bitches in the floor section booed them off stage. It was the best 5 songs of the night.

You can’t afford to get lasers, drums that flip over or flash pots, but you still have to leave the audience with something to take home. Sometimes it’s not in the presence, it’s in the songs themselves.

There aren’t a lot of people who remember Waysted. Pete Way from UFO and Waysted, and at the time it was Danny Vaughn of Tyketto on vocals. Before being forced off stage, they managed to play the song Heroes Die Young. Absolutely one of my favorites. The songs, while none of them were over the top radio hits, were made of chord constructions, harmonies, solos, melodies that stuck with you and lyrics that meant something to a 16-year-old rock and roller kid. I can admit that iron maiden was amazing, as always, and in their prime too – but I left with a story of seeing Waysted live and I still talk about it today.

So I ask – what are you leaving your audience with? Are your songs of worth? Do they speak to anyone with words built on emotion or a sense of understanding what someone else is going through? As much as I can’t really stand anything Kurt Cobain wrote, the dude spoke to a generation with words they understood, about things they experienced. It made him a legend! A shitty legend, but a legend nonetheless. We can all agree that a Poison concert is fun, but there is no intrinsic value to sitting and listening to the songs. The lights, the running around – all cool, but still, there isn’t a lot more to it.

Give them something to talk about, sing about, remember and share with those they talk to at the water cooler tomorrow. If it doesn’t matter to you, then I am pretty sure you’re still in the career of working out of mom’s basement and going to school Monday morning. Eventually you’ll get it. If it’s on a stage I’ll be in front of, I hope it’s sooner than later.

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