It’s not the music

I’ve been on the road – playing keyboards with PsychicTV and shooting additional interviews for my Frontline documentary.

We played two gigs this weekend, one in DC and the other in Pittsburgh. Nothing against DC whatsoever, but the gigs were like night and day. Surprisingly, though DC was a super-professional venue called the 9:30 Club, with great sound and an able-bodied crew, the experience paled in comparison with the show we did at a bizarre little garage-becoming-a-performance-space called The Eye (or Thee I).

As soon as I walked into the Eye, I knew we were in for a treat. The vibe was just, well, homey and alive and friendly and special. So was the dressing room, complete with a PsychicTV Set, and Psychic Cross embossed bananas!

The people were great, and somehow the fact that we were playing in a giant concrete room with sound reverberating against every surface didn’t seem to matter. (Our sound man, Scott, also had something to do with that.)

So, thanks Pittsburgh for special evening that I know I’ll always remember.

For the record, I spoke to soundman Scott after the second gig, to see if it really was so much better than the first. He said that although the energy of the crowd was certainly better in Pittsburgh than in DC, the shows themselves were virtually identical – or at least of identical musical value.

So although it felt as though we played so much better in Pittsburgh, we actually played the same. It was the experience of this music that was so different. To me, this suggests that the music itself is just the medium for a very different kind of exchange. It’s not a completely value neutral medium at all – but it is also the potential carrier for kind of transmission between people that can’t just happen by itself. Like the bread on which you put the peanut butter.

The music may be the medium, but in this case it wasn’t the message.