On top of the several hundred people actually in attendance at the Middle East last night, an additional 40 or so were also able to witness one of the best live shows of the year without stepping foot inside the Cambridge club. Some were half-naked sipping red wine from the comforts of their own residence. Others were wicked baked at home and couldn’t be motivated to put on some clean pants and go outside in the rain. Some no doubt had kids, or work commitments, or anything else that prevents someone from being able to spend a Saturday night inside a live music venue.
But thanks to a collective effort by local upstart media companies plus1tv and Media Boss TV, ONE NIGHT BAND, Boston Band Crush’s annual all-day musician mix-and-match that randomly groups 40 players into eight bands in the morning and expects them to perform later that night, was successfully livestreamed, beginning to end, from the Middle East.
It wasn’t a completely flawless production, but it was one that impressed and stayed live without much interruption (I only needed to refresh my browser once). The stream provided good sound quality that seemed to improve drastically as the night progressed (hitting its stride midway with the Impossible Stairs performance), featured multiple camera angles and cutaways that kept the visuals jumping (avoiding single-shot boredom), and showed entertaining between-band interviews by host Jim Gilbert and music writer Luke O’Neil that filled the changeover gaps. BBC’s logo at the bottom of the screen was a nice touch.
There were some dull extended stretches of watching bands set up their stage (and the Mid East’s house music was barely audible), but that’s nitpicking.
What was really cool about the whole thing was that you kind of felt like you were there just by watching it off the livestream. You could feel the vibe in the room, experience all the performances as they happened, and get perspective from the participants when they got interviewed fresh off the stage. And in a weird way, being out of a boozy social environment enabled this observer, at least, to pay specific attention to the bands. I’d never have been so focused in on what the One Night Bands were actually doing up there. I’m usually at the bar yapping away about something useless.
Those watching the stream were treated to a string of highlights: Keith Pierce of Mellow Bravo opening the eight-band lineup by howling mad with SNUGGLZ; the Sheila Divine’s Aaron Perrino letting loose his unmistakable vocals with the Walls (who got supergroup status when their pairing was announced Saturday morning); and seeing five total-pro musicians come together flawlessly in Grandfather Time Bomb (Annie Hoffman of the Field Effect, Jared Eagan of Sidewalk Driver, Apple Betty’s Caroline Toth, and Evelyn Pope and Walter Sickert), who may have given the best overall performance. Guitarist Egan, as he often does, stood out.
If you were watching the stream, you no doubt caught the night’s true gem, and one of the best songs to magically come out of our city’s scene in years: “Baby Turn Your Dick Down,” by One Night Band’s first-ever all-female grouping, Sir-Vix-A-Lot. Wrote “mel” on the livestream chat: “this is the most amazing song ever written.” Added “Mika:” “So Far Turn Your Dick Down has been the highlight for me.” I agreed. It should be on Bandcamp immediately.
In addition to this year’s One Night Band having its first-ever ladies-only group – fitting, as half of this year’s proceeds went to Girls Rock Camp and featured several of the organization’s volunteers – it also had its first quartet. Lesbian Frankenstein performed as a four-piece after Reuben Bettsak was called away yesterday morning for a work emergency. Yes, we checked to see if Guillermo Sexo had a gig at Capt Carlo’s in Gloucester last night. They’re in the clear.
With eight new bands born, more than $3,000 raised for Girl Rock Camp Boston and ZUMIX, and One Night Band 4 in the rearview (though BBC will post videos, photos and clips of the event throughout the week) the question now becomes whether or not livestreaming could take off as a legitimate way of seeing a local show, without, you know, actually attending it.
Could the Rumble broadcast its nine nights from T.T. The Bear’s Place, or could the Boston Music Awards be shown around the world from the Liberty Hotel? Naturally the first instinct would be to think that venues wouldn’t be down with this, for fear of impacting attendance. Last night Dos Equis picked up the tab on the Mid East’s room cost, so the only concern the venue could have had was with sales at the bar. And of course, 35 to 40 people knowing they could check in on a show at Great Scott or Radio via the internet shouldn’t ever have too much of an impact on those rooms’ overall numbers. But they are concerns bound to be cited.
And, of course, demand needs to be there to justify the production efforts, which is why the Rumble and BMAs first come to mind over a random midweek bill at Precinct or PAs or wherever.
Regardless, plus1tv and Media Boss gave us a great look inside the clubs last night – it reminded me of Dana Hersey’s “We Don’t Knock” features on TV-38 in the 1980s – and we hope more things like this happen in the future. Anything that gives our scene, and its nights like One Night Band, a potentially global audience is a great thing. And it’s even better when it’s done well.