Seeing The Bishops is like going back to a time when most of the people in the room – band included – hadn’t even been born. The twins Mark and Pete Bishop spot identical suits and Beatle-esque haircuts, and every move they make on stage, from the head-shakes to the facial expressions, seems to have been rehearsed in front of the mirror a million times before. But it’s not only the aesthetics that one could find somewhat familiar, their music is directly influenced by the rock and roll sounds of the late fifties and early sixties. Even though a lot of people will be put off by the lack of originality in their sound and the simplicity of their lyrics, The Bishops manage to capture the energy and urgency of the early days in their live show, eliminating the tough guy attitude so prevalent in modern rock and bringing back the mixture of rebelliousness and innocence that characterised the first generation of teenagers. Those who allow themselves to forget about virtuosos and pretentiousness will find it impossible not to dance along to their catchy tunes. Remember kids, rock is fun, and The Bishops sure know how to bring it. That said, I wouldn’t want to listen to them at home.
A few days ago I couldn’t stop laughing when I read that Mest’s vocalist Tony Lovato had been arrested for murdering his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend. I know murder isn’t supposed to be amusing, but the thought of a heavily tattooed guy who plays bubble-gum pop music being in jail had me in stitches. Besides, the fans’ reactions were pretty funny too, his myspace was flooded with comments of teenage girls saying they were praying for him and a “Free Tony Lovato” group was created within minutes. I’m not gonna argue whether the guy is innocent or not (he was freed earlier yesterday claiming the the murder was on self-defense), I’m just hoping that this incident doesn’t inspire him to write a thousand songs about death and misery that will make thousands of high school girls all over the world dress in black and draw black eyeliner tears on their face. Seriously, the world could do without that.
When reading the sentence above, most people would think about a tragic and possibly unexpected death of a close friend or family member. Fortunately, I haven’t had to face that situation more than once, and death at the age of 102 doesn’t exactly take you aback. The loss I am going to talk about is the empty space that a band leaves on your playlist when you suddenly realise they are not all that.
In my case, bad live performances and weak albums tend to be the turning point. For example, I haven’t listened to the Kaiser Chiefs since I left their show before it was over, but the atrocius live performance didn’t really come as a surprise. I am talking about bands you are really passionate about, the ones that make you feel like you’re alive when you listen to them. According to my lastfm profile, Alkaline Trio is my second most listened band. What lastfm ignores, though, is that after the release of the forgettable “Good Mourning” (2003) and a dull live show I didn’t listen to them again until 2005 – coincidentally when I signed up on lastfm. I thought I would give “Crimson” a listen and found myself enjoying it, which made me dig out their older records and fall in love with the band all over again. Now I wish I could take back those two years when I would describe the band as terribly overrated at any given chance (even though I still think they are overrated) and I’d seen them when they played in a small club in Madrid shortly after my resentment against them commenced. A similar thing has happened over the years with some varieties on the correlation between hate and love.
Bright Eyes were on the first place of the list of active bands that I wanted to see. Okay, they were actually on the second place following the Descencents, but I don’t really consider them to be active. So when I saw they had a couple of dates in this country I didn’t hesitate to book one, without even considering that both were too far from me and I would have to fly myself there. Travelling with the sole purpose of seeing a band always constitutes a big risk; if the band doesn’t live up to our expectations, we will leave feeling robbed and will probably hold a secret hate towards that place that could lead to acts such as crossing the town’s name out of the family atlas and similar punk rock acts of rebellion. Keeping this in mind, my initial excitement gave way to a certain distressing emotion also known as fear. I was scared to the point that I almost wished I’d never booked those tickets. Associating memories of a disappointing live show to some of my favourite songs – songs being a compound of music and words – would probably make me stop listening to them, something cause me the same amount of sadness as my fish’s death (believe me, that hurt).
What did I do about it? I made myself think they were going to be terrible. I avoided listening to them before the concert, expecting to assimilate the idea that I wouldn’t be hearing any of my favourite songs. The result was mildly successful. I managed to maintain my anger until they started playing. I was right, they didn’t play any of the stuff I wanted to hear the most. In fact, nothing from “Fevers and Mirrors” was heard last night. Surprisingly, instead of sulking and trying to kill Conor Oberst by sending him evil looks, I found myself enjoying a great show. I did wish for old material in between songs, but every single song – even the weakest ones – sounded amazing, the version of ‘First Day of my Life’ sounded infinitely better than the album one and everybody seemed really happy to be there. I am delighted that I finally got to see them and Conor’s voice live was much better than I imagined. At the moment, I am listening to “Fevers & Mirrors” and promising myself that one day I will kidnap Mr. Oberst and make him play it all 10 times on a row. It worked, I can listen to them again only 24 hours after the gig. I am really quite amazed that I am not (very) bitter about it.
May I inaugurate this blog with one of the few music videos that has the power to give me goosebumps every single time I watch it; Penfold performing ‘I’ll take you everywhere’ in their reunion show last year.