Friday, April 06, 2007

Why I Walked Out On YMCK

I walked out on my first YMCK show last week even though I’m a big fan of their 8-bit techno jazz-pop music, for a simple reason: they prohibited photography.

The MC of the event told the audience before the show started that taking pictures and video-taping would be forbidden. And they seemed to have staffers standing around making sure no one did whip out their cameras. That put me off. I don't know the YMCK people or what was behind this prohibition, but it seemed needlessly uptight, especially for an indie band.

Plus, I listened to a couple of their songs and would have stuck around anyway if they were great performers, but, as far as I could tell, they were simply recreating their recorded sound on stage. They weren't adding that special thing that can only be created in a live show. It didn’t seem worth my time to stay until the end.

If people like to take pictures of bands, I don't see why they shouldn't.

Musicians may object that photo-taking by audience members disrupts the show. I could maybe see this if fans were taking pictures with a flash, but I never do.

Or, they might say they don't want their pictures appearing in blogs or other random places without their knowing about it. But to this, I ask: what’s the big deal? It isn’t as if the paparazzi are stalking them in their private lives—they’re on stage! Don’t they want the free publicity?

I don’t even see why major label artists are averse to getting their pictures taken. What would it matter if every other person in some arena show was taking photos? But there’s probably no hope of that ever happening.

What I wish for is more freedom. Music should be a free thing, and people should be free to enjoy it the way they like. Too often at Japanese shows, you are expected to enjoy the illusion of being free and eager music lovers when, in reality, authority figures are regulating everything you do, from the moment you line up to when you leave the hall. I dislike this this, and I avoid shows at the big venues if I can help it.

Smaller, independent shows shouldn’t be like this, but there will always be bands that want to take away the audience’s freedom. That’s their choice, but it’s my choice not to go to their shows or write about them (unless I want to—like today).

No comments: