Tribute bands are a strange phenomenon. I can understand wanting to take a song that has inspired you and put your own personal spin to it, but with a tribute band the point is to not add any personal creativity, but rather to re-create a lost moment in time.
I suppose what urges people to do this is similar to whatever emotion urges certain people to dress up and re-create Civil War battles on the weekends.
It just strikes me as very odd. I cannot think of anything from the past that i, personally, would want to re-create. But maybe that's not the point -- maybe re-creation isn't for the "performers" but rather for the audience. After all, people doing the re-creation obviously already know a lot about what happened. They know the history and are presenting it for a new audience who missed it the first time.
Which is, after all, why i went out on a warm spring night to see Louisville legends (and, arguably, the founding fathers of the Post-Rock genre) Slint be re-created on stage. Slint were one of those bands that flared up like a match struck in total darkness -- blinding, brilliant, beautiful, and over far too fast. I never had the chance to see them, and only got into their recorded work a few years ago. So i was i was really curious about this performance.
And Splint delivered. They were 4 young (early 20's -- but thats young to an old fogey like me!) guys who were very very proficient. They hammered through 45 minutes of Slint material -- hitting both Fortune Teller and Good Morning Captain along with a lot of other recognizable songs whose titles i can't ever remember. The music was a dead-on replica of the recorded sound of Slint -- bass lines thumped, guitars wailed, and drums thudded. I really really felt like i was there, listening to history being made in some sweaty smokey dive in Louisville or Chicago during the early 90's. Slint, for that 45 minute set, lived and breathed and made noise again. It was beautiful....
But i am left feeling wierd about the performance. Sure i liked it a lot, but i could have listened to all of those songs sitting in my apartment, actually played by Slint! Heck, i even have a decent sounding bootleg that i could have listened to for that live feel. But there was something else. That ineffable energy and sense of urgency that only a live performance can have. There is something more to music than can ever be converted to 0's and 1's and burnt onto a CD. There is something else, and Splint were able to give that to me.
I think that someone who did not enjoy Slint's recorded work might not have gotten much out of the show, but for anyone who does enjoy Slint, i say check this "act" out. It was very interesting.
Now, Splint were the headliners and the focus of the evening, but two other acts did perform and i want to at least mention them.
First up was C'est Morte, which i think means "That's Death" in French. How existential. This band obviously spent a lot of time listening to both Slint and Sonic Youth -- they were LOUD and heavily distorted and energetic. The songs in general lacked focus, but there were moments when it all came together and it was perfect. I think that if this band (they also looked young to me) continues to grow and practice they will be quite interesting.
The second act was Asanisomasa, which i have no clue how to pronounce. This band was quite interesting. They were a two piece -- drums and bass/vocals. The bass, however, was not your standard four-stringed instrument, but instead appeared to be an 8-string creation. It had a great sound, like nothing i had really heard before, and the man who played it really knew his instrument. The drumming in this band was also quite good. They played for half an hour, which was very enjoyable. I will look for this band to play again, and maybe next time i will ask how the heck you pronounce the name!
So there you go, an evening that made me think about the nature of music, and how live is so much more powerful than recorded.