so what’s up with the “stars” (ratings)???

Posted: June 5, 2011 in Editor's Notes

As I had noted in a previous column (see Editor’s Notes dated May 10, 2011), there are five basic categories of what I listen/look for when I’m reviewing the live performance of a band – these are based on my classical training as well as all my years playing and listening to bands:

Musicianship – this includes:

* Timing – do all the musicians play together?  Do the drum and bass guitar keep time (most bands have a tendency to start speeding up as they go through a song)?  A popular thing to do (and very cool when it is done right) is to switch time signatures – it’s difficult and can oftentimes end up getting away from you (turning sloppy).

* Tuning – are the instruments tuned correctly? and to each other?

* Equipment – is the use of guitar pedals/boxes, sample machines, percussion equipment (cowbells, drum pads, etc.), and other special equipment effective?

Vocals – this includes:

* Pitch – are the vocals on pitch with the instruments?  with each other?

* Equipment – if uni-directional mics or special effects (distortion boxes, etc.) are used, how well are they handled?

* Clarity – can you understand the lyrics? or are they muddled?

Originality – this includes:

* Lyrics – do they make sense within the song?  do they fit the style of music being played?

* Material – is it unique? Or does it just sound like every other wannabe garage band?

Professionalism – this includes:

* Showmanship – do the musicians connect and interact with the audience? do they hold the audience’s attention? how does the audience respond to them?  (when I see folks drift off the floor, that tells a lot)

* Appearance – are there any special effects (lighting, fog machines, etc.) that are included?  Do they add to or detract from the performance?

* PUII – it takes years to be able to perform well while under the influence (and that only slightly) of intoxicants – if I see bands swigging brew before or during a performance, I’m especially watching for this.  Some bands (even the most well-known/respected groups) never do this well.

Marketability – this includes:

* Music Style (genre) – does this particular type of music have a wide range of appeal in the current mainstream market?

* Merchandise – are there shirts, EPs/albums available for purchase at the show?  Are there webpages featuring bio and current touring info with high-quality recordings of marketable singles?

Most bands will have some strengths in all of these areas, and partial (or negligible) strengths in others, resulting in a fraction (like 3 1/2 stars).  And yes, all of these ratings are subjective (similar to Ebert’s “thumbs up” ratings for movies).  Music, like all other art forms, is a matter of personal taste.  These ratings aren’t based on whether I personally “like” any style (genre) of music per se.  Each performance is reviewed solely on its own merits.

  1. garage door says:

    godd u really are not very bright

  2. Electro Bass says:

    Thanks for some great information regarding this

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