Friday, November 06, 2009
The Bare Facts
I would rather walk barefoot over hot coals than see Barefoot Truth again.
I would rather walk barefoot through a whole lot of goat poop than see Barefoot Truth again.
I would rather eat a bucket of mayo while barefoot than see Barefoot Truth again.
I would rather have my head chopped off while barefoot than see Barefoot Truth again.
You get the point, right?
For a variety of reasons, I saw Barefoot Truth in the Lily Pad at Toad's Place last night. For a variety of reasons, I didn't enjoy this particular experience. Not one bit. The only thing that made it even the tiniest bit tolerable was the particularly crazy woman who was standing in front of me.
Before we get to her, though, let's talk about my personal nightmare. Most people reading this have probably learned over the past six or so years how much I hate jam bands. Now, wait, let me say there are exceptions, but not many.
So you probably think that's my least favorite type of music. You'd be wrong. I really, really hate white-boy reggae. More than anything. Frat boys who grew up listening to Bob Marley trying to play a bastardization of Marley and Mayer ... well, that's my personal hell. Maybe I'm going there someday (I doubt it; I'm a nice person), but I should not have to visit now.
Barefoot Truth manages to synthesize all three: Marley, Mayer and the Allmans. But all three of those acts have some decent characteristics. This band, which formed in Connecticut a few years back, neuters them all. There’s nothing dangerous here, just some bland music and more lyrical cliches than you can count.
Watching the guys play - and I'm sure they're all nice people - I couldn't help but feel the only people, by and large, that could like this music is college girls and older people who think it might be cool. I know that sounds harsh, and it is to a point, but I sure had that feeling numerous times last night.
Now, there are some good things to talk about. These guys are all good musicians. The singer has a good voice, even if he hasn't found anything close to a unique way to deliver it.
Why try so hard to sound like other people? Why try to make your pretty-boy folk have a reggae tinge? Why? Why? Why? Why have band members switch instruments when it only lessens the level of play in both cases? Why do a cover medley of old R&B songs mixed with Sir Mix-a-Lot? It's a lazy way to get laughs and, more importantly, it's borderline insulting. Why did HBO just begin playing "Sweet November"? Why? Why? Why?
Look, I know I’m just crapping on a band here, but, of course, if you play music in public you should know some a-hole critic might be watching. I just don’t understand why bands are so happy to be completely ordinary. Do you really want to sound like DMB without any kind of testosterone? Do you really want to sing like you’re Bob Marley and constantly mock Beenie Man (who was playing the main room downstairs) during your set? When you can only hope that someday your crappy take on reggae can even be in a conversation with Beenie Man?
Every one of the band members has talent. They should use it to find their own voice. Or, just keep on going doing this thing, playing to a rotating group of college girls who, while you get older, they stay the same age.
Wait, maybe I have the wrong idea here? Maybe Barefoot Truth is a lot smarter than me.