SETLISTS AND THE LIVE EXPERIENCE
Just read an interesting article:
(First off, I’d like to acknowledge how friendly and constructive the tone of that article was. It’s really inspiring to read a piece like this which questions things in such a kind, respectful way.)
Anyhow, the issue for me isn’t as much about the setlists, and more about what’s really going on in my sub-culture.
What inspires me?
There is a mystique to the simple human sensation of experiencing something overwhelming which I do not understand, and cannot verbalize or rationalize, yet I am swept away by it. When this happens, my experience is more immersive, more enchanting, more deeply impactful then if I can see behind the curtain, figure it all out, understand/analyze every last inch of it.
When I go out to a nice restaurant, I looooooove ordering really healthy, fresh, delicious food. I also admit I appreciate ambiance: the lighting, the crowd, the aura, the music, the details of the tables & settings, and all of that. It would be a different experience if I was a chef, and worked tirelessly sweating away in the back with a bunch of stressed out screaming kitchen staff dealing with an entree that just caught fire, or seeing a bunch of rats or roaches or the dumpster after a night, or all the grimy behind-the-scenes nuances which obstruct my ability to just enjoy the purity of that restaurant experience.
Same with film… it is my single favorite medium to experience because I have carefully avoided getting behind the scenes. When I watch a good movie (I’ve seen a lot lately, like Birdman, Whiplash, Donnie Darko) or a series like True Detective, I’m so thankful that I am easily swept away into another world. I love not knowing what a key grip is, or not seeing the director and the producer arguing heatedly, or knowing what a pain in the ass some actor was to work with, or how carefully the lighting was altered or colorized. In fact, I don’t even want to read reviews or see a trailer… I want to go in COMPLETELY blind, and ready to be taken on a journey. I don’t question the motives of a director if they prefer I not read the script, and instead just take the ride.
Same goes for music… the live shows I create (along with my awesome crew & team!) at a festival or on the road ((and along with the awesome people in the crowd who are energetically contributing MASSIVE amounts of personality and intensity and who are responsible for all the reflection… whose “aura” I sense, and in response steer the ship of the set into unexpected directions)) are EXTREMELY raw, personal, creative “pieces of art” for me… I work an insane amount on each one (I work full time on music and my career in general, but when on the road each individual set gets hours – like 5-8 hours EACH – of individual thought and preparation; fine tuning new loops or variations, or creating new remixes or rendering out new loops, or re-assembling parts so they can be improvised in new orders, or whatever… alot)
a lot a lot a lot 🙂
I always cringe when I think about someone in Missouri watching a Youtube clip of a set which happened in Seattle, and then catching me in Miami and having their experience affected by the clips they have already watched. For obvious reasons these Youtube clips or “live recordings” are such sad, flaccid renditions of the actual thing with criminally whack sound quality, and just such a frail 2 dimensional replication of the omni-dimensional experience of being in the thick of it: surrounded by your friends, or maybe all alone, eyes closed or maybe wide open – soaking up the light and the visuals and the immense multimedia art installations and projections and production…with the sound painstakingly dialed to not only sound as good as possible…but to FEEEL as good as possible. Experiencing it all live, and being a part of each moment as it bursts into existence.
That’s what I am obsessed with… not the shards of third-rate replications. When I see a sunset, I am the guy who squeals with excitement and watches it, maybe calls to my friends to come check it out, I don’t whip out my phone and start taking pictures (which suck inevitably) and then miss out on the sunset. (Confession: obviously I *DO* try and photo it sometimes, but then: I’m missing out.)
It’s all about the moment. Don’t worry “what I played” last night in Grand Rapids, or “what track order I mixed” at Lollapalooza or how they were different. Why? What does it matter? It’s missing the point. I’m not saying “DONT THINK ABOUT IT”…I’m encouraging you to stop worrying about it, and instead catch the moment…experience it as it’s meant to be experienced, and if you don’t then come back soon!
Of course, nerds will be nerds (I should know) and the more of a geek we are about the things we love, the more we obsess over them. So I am honored that people spend hours discussing setlists I play (although I will not tailor my art to anyone who worries about what I played at another show, be it on setlist, or Youtube clip…my only targets are the bodies in my proximity whose nervous systems I get to play with in the heat of the moment) but I will say it’s annoying how inaccurate they are. Partly because I am a geek too…I work so hard on this stuff – so I’m kinda like ‘get it right or leave it alone’… if you want to make a set list and fill in all the gaps with “?????” and maybe note various samples you recognize (if that is really worth your time?) feel free! But those are songs I’m sampling…I am not DJing tracks off of Beatport. Every single track, loop, or sample you hear in a set has been heavily edited or remixed or remastered or ripped apart and put back together live or layered with other things, or reduced to it’s simplest part, and then combined with something else which is new…or customized in a myriad of ways…whether it is something I made, or something a friend made, or something sampled from the Limitless Collection of recorded sound & music which exists in my record collection. Even if a loop sounds familiar, it has been painstakingly reinforced or remastered (and this stuff takes ****DAYS***** of work for each 1 or 2 minute track which gets played) to live up to our audio quality standard, and then it’s all being re-sequenced live in a spontaneous way, all heavily customized live.
And this has always been important to me since back in the late-’90s when I stopped playing vinyl because I wanted to customize the tracks I played. I would edit out all the the parts I didn’t like, or customize exclusive bootlegs or loops, or cut out the swear words, or all the lame misogynist rap lyrics (but keep the beat, or keep the hook) or take the loop I loved, and sample it and then go berserk. So what I’m saying is there is more than meets the eye, and most of the setlists I see are just straight up inaccurate. I’m like “yuck! don’t say I played THAT…I didn’t play that” or whatever…it’s me being protective of the art.
That said, do whatever you want. I wasn’t telling the world not to do this, I was telling a specific forum of insiders this, and as things inevitably do on the internet: people got confused. The message was only intended for that particular group, it wasn’t intended to be a blanket note to the people of earth. if you want one of those, here you go:
PEOPLE OF EARTH!
DO WHATEVER YOU WANT! WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY, WHATEVER PROMOTES HEALTH IN YOUR LIFE AND THE LIVES OF YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILIES… WHATEVER PROMOTES CONNECTION & INSPIRATION & GENEROSITY & ENTHUSIASM & EXCITEMENT… WHATEVER MAKES YOU FEEL SPECIAL: DO IT!!! HAVE FUN DOING IT! PHOTOGRAPH YOURSELVES ON YOUR IPHONES AND POST CLIPS OF YOURSELVES DOING IT TO YOUTUBE AND THEN WRITE SET LISTS ABOUT WHAT EXACTLY YOU DID, IF IT BRINGS YOU JOY!
I SINCERELY LOVE THINKING ABOUT YOU EXPERIENCING JOY, OH PEOPLE OF EARTH
YOU KNOW I LOVE IT