10 Rock Concert Clichés

by Dr. Zoltan Øbelisk!

Context From Carl: Wrote this in mid-2007. I’m not sure it was ever published. Maybe on Myspace or something. It may have been a script for an audio clip, in the style of John Tesh’s “Intelligence For Your Life.” I do know that I got #10 from watching a band at Hotel Cafe.

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I am Dr. Zoltan Øbelisk and I will give you a list of common rock concert clichés that will launch your entertainment career in ten easy steps.

1.) Regardless of the marginally discernible sub-classification, all rock music shares one common attribute — the volume is too loud! This is done for one reason and one reason only: to hide the mistakes made by the performers. The more pressure exerted on the eardrums, the less subtleties and detail the listener can perceive. Tuning and tempo problems will be lost in the over-compressed auditory bombardment.

2.) Rock concerts are populated by audience members and even performers who lack a musical education. The band does not know what they’re playing and the listeners do not know what they are listening to. It is all just a big mystery!

3.) Towards the end of the concert, the band is expected to pretend to end early and walk off stage. The audience then pretends to want to hear a few more songs, so they stand there and keep clapping. The band waits about 60 seconds on the side of the stage while pretending to decide whether or not they should play a few more songs (which are actually already written on the set list). They walk back out onto the raised horizontal surface and the audience pretends to be surprised. The concert continues.

4.) In between songs, amateur bands are expected to ask the audience to purchase CDs, T-shirts, stickers, and to sign up for a mailing list. They are then told to, “visit our website.” The audience then pretends that this is all new information that they could never have figured out without being told. Wow!

5.) Rather than focusing on their own performance, the band has to “bond” with the audience by asking, “Is everybody having a good time tonight?” The audience will cheer. The band will then say, “I cannot hear you!” (See photo above.) Perhaps if they were exceptional musicians, they would not need to ask the audience to applaud.

6.) The music must be simplistic to facilitate efficiency of posing and face-making. Instead of being a good musician, the performer must only APPEAR to be a good musician. This is best done through agreeing on minimalist arrangements, allowing the performer to focus on his costume and dance moves. Paradoxically, whatever the music, the performer should pretend it is really hard to play. He should move parts of his body at velocities that have nothing to do with the performance of the actual notes.

7.) Once the song starts, it’s OK to play whatever note you want at any time you want. Showboat, scrub, just mash lots of notes in and play over everyone else. Just keep that right hand moving at all times. During the pauses in the song, pretend that you are the only band member who is going to add a funny noise or pick scrape. That way, the impact of the pause is ruined. Just fall asleep up there and don’t pay much attention… the audience will do the same. But I want you to listen very closely: at the end of the song, it is important to play the last couple of notes with lots of emphasis, as if you are a real pro. The audience will wake up and pretend to be impressed and clap their hands and say, “Good job, you were all able to stop playing at the same time!”

8.) If your band is one of those trendy genre hoppers, make sure you throw in a death metal section. Pretend that particular section is very difficult to play. The audience will cheer and be impressed that you were able to throw your head forward and turn on a distortion pedal.

9.) The band members need to hide backstage before the performance. That way, when they come out on stage, it is a grand surprise. The audience will be impressed that the band was able to walk onto the stage at an agreed-upon time. There will be applause. The audience will wonder, what were they doing backstage? What type of important work do they do all day before they play one or two hours of music? I wonder if it is as frustrating as my day job. Do they have a time clock? Do they have a boss? Do they have to wear a uniform? Hahaha! After the show, the band must be whisked off to somewhere else important, where they can remove their costumes. They are SPECIAL and have to keep up the pretense.

10.) If they are not going to jump up and down during certain parts of the concert, it is important for the band to not just stand there. They must get into a STANCE. This is for safety reasons: the music is “heavy” and they need to be able to carry it without hurting their backs.

Incorporate these ten rock concert clichés and your band will be unstoppable at your next performance.

-Dr. Zoltan!