SONIC REDUCER "I'm going to start smoking again. I'm going to start eating bad and quit working out."
Here, have a few determinedly daft new year's resolutions from an old hand at San Francisco music-making from Chuck Prophet, who happens to be headlining the old year out at Starry Plough Dec. 31. Don't say he never gave you anything. But seriously, our Prophet?
Actually '09 vows are the last thing Prophet wants to be burdened with. "I'm just lazy," the singer-songwriter confesses from his South of Market mini-HQ. "Why would I put any more assignments on myself?"
You know what he means. New Year's resolutions what better way to hang an albatross round the old oak tree and set yourself up for FAILblog? Still, 'tis the season, and I have a few ideas on how to institute change in this recession-wracked music scene, inspired by the last time the pink slips flew round the turn of the century, post-tech boom. Call these my "Keep the Scene Strong Goals for '09," all related to stamping out the scourge of many a creative milieu: passive consumption. Though, hell, who even has the time and cash to consume very much these days?
Engagement. It's as simple as talking to the performer after the show. And no, I don't mean hit on the band. Instead, start a dialogue of either the positive or constructively critical ilk with your friendly neighborhood musicmaker. Who wants to play into a void, to a passive, glazed-look blank generation? Feedback ain't just a whole lotta noise. If the spirit moves you, feel free to buy those hard-working musicians and DJs a round of drinks. The Hemlock's $1 bag of hot peanuts is a nice gesture.
Dance. OK, the early '00s saw a rock crew shook it up at shows, but San Francisco is slipping, regaining that bad reputation of resembling zombie-like, arms-folded slabs of tofu. Hold up your end of the bargain and get a move on.
Stretch. Yes, stretching before dancing helps with muscle aches. But I mean listen to new sounds. If you're a metal dude, lend an ear to weird new America-style folk think about Zep's connections betwixt loud and languorous. If you're an indie rock chippie check into Fania salsa reissues; a gangster rap head, a bit of death metal or a dab of indie-literati-pop.
Prepare yourself for the worst and possibly the best. Everyone's wondering if they're going to be laid off or face a work drought in '09. Instead resolve to put that anxious energy and restless imagination to good use. Come up with some nice, meaty, beaty post-layoff projects. Take up an instrument, even if it is simply a shareware synthesizer. Switch up your recorded listening by swapping records or MP3s with pals or dive into an affair like KUSF-FM's Rock 'n' Swap on Jan. 11 (www.kusf.org/rocknswap.shtml). Throw a show at your abode, or better yet, put on a free music happening in a public space (i.e., the Toxic Beach throw-downs, mobile Flag Day jamboree).
Sure, everyone knows resolutions are made to be broken. Even Prophet spurned his faux resolutions after we spoke, via e-mail: "So last night after eating cereal for dinner, passing out watching the Food channel, I've decided my NY resolution is to cook more often. Taking up smoking is a bit daft, I have to admit." Tasty words and food for thought.
Wed/31, 9:30 p.m., $26.50
3101 Shattuck, Berk.
For more from Chuck Prophet, go to Noise blog at sfbg.com.
THE MOST INTRIGUING READER TOP 10: MITCH CARDWELL
"Budget Rock-er, zine scribe, lover, drunkard"
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