I've been listening to a lot of classical. Saturday, the NHK orchestra was performing one of my recent favorite pieces, Sibelius's 2nd Symphony, so I went to Shibuya to listen to that, then afterward headed over the Lush to check out something more in line with this journal, an event featuring pop bands Lost in Found, Piana, the Guitar Plus Me and Conchill. It was a music-filled day, and one that made me think about the contrast between classical and pop.
A classical concert is overloaded with rituals and rules: welcoming the conductor onto the stage with applause, waiting until all the symphony movements are over before clapping, etc. The musicians of a good orchestra are incredible, and a strict rule of silence is enforced so everyone can listen fully to their work, as well as the blend of sounds the conductor creates with his baton. Except...our being human beings, there's never complete silence. There are the coughers, the fidgeters, the whisperers. They get glared at and shushed for these relatively minor violations.
After a while this totalitarian rule of silence begins to affect your own mind, so you begin to look at disapproval with the noise-makers too. That may be why, somewhere around the 2nd or 3rd movement of the symphony, I began to notice that the middle-aged lady next to me was rubbing the sleeve of her sweater. Rub, rub, rub. It was some sort of fabric that squeaked a bit when rubbed. Rub, rub, rub. Rub, rub, rub. Rub, rub, rub. She wouldn't stop. It was a tiny sound, but I heard it, and in that place where no sound was allowed except the orchestra's, it got on my nerves. But...what could I do? Tell some random lady to stop rubbing her arm? I put up with it, in silence.
At a rock concert it's inconceivable that I'd care about some person next to me rubbing a sweater. There's little likelihood I'd even hear it in the first place. But, strangely, even in the amplified racket of a rock gig, some rules of silence exist. Blabbering away during a favorite band's show might earn you evil eyes from the fans. And anyone who's been to even a few gigs knows they have their share of silly rituals, maybe even more than even classical concerts, from pumping the arms to head-banging to mosh pits, and on and on. (Is it something about music's way of turning on primitive impulses that gives rise to all these rituals?)
Gigs that Lost In Found are involved in are good because they never have too much of the stupid rock show rituals you see elsewhere. Their events are just places to hang out and listen to music, and to chat with a friend over a beer. Nothing more than that. And that's the sort of scene I like. Of course, we wouldn't all be there if LIF didn't create lovely indie pop on-stage, having a blast the whole time, cracking up over both jokes they share with the audience and private humor they keep to themselves.
Piana, as you can see in my previous post, released one of my 10 favorite albums last year, so it was with excitement that I went to the Lush show to see her for the first time. She stood on the left half of the stage, accompanied by a single pianist on the right. Piana's performance was understated—she didn't move much, and the emphasis was on having you listen to the voice and the way it interacted with the piano. But Piana has such an ethereal, soothing, soaring style of singing that listening to it was enough to captivate me. She also has a wonderful way of creating musical space out of pauses in her singing.