Spectatorship, Part 1 | Dan Deacon

Text: Dan Deacon
Issue: #2, Summer-Fall 2015. Editorial on Spectatorship.

“THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PROBLEM,
MID-SIZE VENUES ARE DISAPPEARING”

I feel at the beginning of my career I was very, “I only play on the floor and it can’t be any other way,” and I feel like a lot of that insistency was limiting. Regret isn’t the right word, but I wish I was more open-minded and more open to experiment. In the music industry, I think the biggest thing is knowing your threshold for compromise and your willingness to say, “Yes, I can do that.” Or, “No, we actually can’t.” For an upcoming performance, we just found out there’s going to be an earlier show before us and we we’re asked, “Can you take all of the equipment apart and then set it back up?” If it was my old show from a year ago it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. It still would have sucked, it’s twice as much work. On top of that, these recent shows have about a 5-hour setup so we just physically can’t do it. Our constraint is time. Often, we get a festival offering and they say, “Yeah, you can do this, but there’s a 20-minute change,” where we have to say, “OK, we can do that, but that means it’s going to be this kind of show rather than this show.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

I’m reading this book right now called Yes, Yes, Y’All, about the birth of Hip-hop and there’s this one section that really stuck with me: the biggest parties were when it rained. Wow! That’s really weird because now I feel like no one goes out when it rains. Rain is not like a motivator for going out. I started thinking about it. This is in the mid-to-late seventies. There’s no cable TV. There are no VCRs, no Internet. Once it’s dark and it’s summer, you want to go out! You want to socialize. There’s nothing to do at home. Of course you’re going out. Now all of a sudden, when it rains it’s, “Ah, it’s crappy out. I’ll stay in and watch Netflix. I’ll go cruise the Internet. I’ll just find a way to occupy my life until I go to bed.” Do you know what I mean?

 

I keep thinking how that is such a shift from thirty or forty years ago. Would punk and hip-pop have evolved in the age of Netflix? I’m not saying, new art forms aren’t emerging. They are. I think net art is one of the most exciting things happening right now. I’m saying: it’s crazy to think about how different something like the weather is now that there’s the Internet and asking: what effect has it had on people in their day-to-day life? You’d think the movies would be packed on a rainy day, but now no one wants to go out in the rain so they do worse. Shows do worse on rainy days when it used to be the exact opposite: “I got to get out of this fucking house. It’s pouring outside. There’s nothing to do. I’m losing my mind.” Now your house is just endless array of time wasters that are both productive, unproductive, fun, exciting, boring, numbing— whatever you want it to be.

 

And the Internet is not the problem. The problem is, if we’re going to talk about what’s happening, that mid-size venues are disappearing and getting bought up by giant conglomerates. There’s more and more national and international concert promoting companies and less and less independent people booking concerts or booking venues or running venues. That’s fucking crazy because it’s like we are living at the twilight of what started with                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

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