Handy live music reviewing tips from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
By Darragh Murray
Here at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, we realise that writing live reviews is a difficult, often thankless, task.
So we’ve compiled some handy tips for making your review more zesty, less prone to error, entertaining, and suitable to be published on the website of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Frequently reinforce gender stereotypes
Political correctness has gone mad. Men are blokes, woman are lasses. Get it right.
It’s a good idea to try being as condescending as possible by comparing female recording artists to prominent male musicians. Josh Homme is often a suitable comparative tool.
Example: “After seeing PJ Harvey perform at festivals, I know this lass can hold her own with the boys. For research you only have to look at songs from the Desert sessions where she performs with the likes Mark Lanegan, and Josh Homme.”
The appropriateness of adjectives is secondary to how awesome they sound
There is no problem describing a performer as having futuristic pigtails. It might sound weird, but when you think about it, it makes perfectly logical sense. They are pigtails … from the future, you idiots!
Example: “That said PJ walks in, stage left, dressed like an elfin goddess, with feathers in her hair like futuristic pigtails holding an auto harp.”
Capitalisation of common nouns is encouraged
CAPITALS = IMPORTANT. Forget your primary school grammar rules. Feel free to use capitals to indicate important words, such as musical genres.
Example: “A pioneer of Electronic, or as they call it now Electro music.”
Proof reading is for people with too much time
We are living in an era where time means money. The more time you spend on proof reading your reviews, the less time you have for hanging with your 30-something blokey friends, chatting to lasses, or critical analysing the quality of stitching on the shirts available for sale at the merchandise desk.
Example: “I had never been to a concert before at the Astor Cinema and to be honest I was unsure on what to expect.”
Instruments are important
Nothing is more exciting that reading about what instruments people use to make music. In most cases, it is actually more important than the performance.
Be precise. Try to mention makes and models, serial numbers if you can read them, and inform the audience about how many synths the musician happens to be using. If none, make sure you state this fact.
Example: “As luck would have it there was nothing more of a twist of a power cable to get [the synth] working and from my eagle eye there were six synthesizers across the stage, bass guitar and drums.”
Where possible use the full name and title of the technicians and the role they play in the performance
Technicians are integral to a good performance. Arguably, they’re even more important than mentioning what songs were played, the reaction of the crowd and the impression the performance made on the reviewer. Try assess how the technician changed your appreciation of the musical performance.
They are also important to the historical record. If you do not write it their names down, you’ll be kicking yourself years later when you find you struggle to remember the name of the person who once handed Kirk Hammett a guitar tuned in drop D after Metallica had finished off performing ‘Seek And Destroy’.
Example: “… to spot Gary Numan’s right hand man Ade Fenton come out on stage left to help fix a synth, I got a little anxious.”
Quality of the merchandise
It’s not a review unless you comment on the quality of the merchandise.
Market research indicates shoddy merchandise can often be a determining factor in whether people go to live music performances or not. Bands need to be reminded that they might undo all their good work by providing cheaply made clothes that people often buy to remind themselves of the an otherwise pleasurable experience.
Example: “I enjoyed this concert amazingly. The only thing that let it down was the cheap merchandise, but if you were wearing that to look cool then you really need to take a look at yourself.”
Age is important
A person’s age is relevant to your appreciation of the performance. Try to indicate your age so the reader can assess how much life experience you’ve accumulated and how that relates to your appreciation of the performance at hand. Keep in mind that it’s a faux pas to precisely state your age. Vagueness is key.
Example: “I know me and my 30-something mates all had a whale of a time. Gary Numan has been keeping it real, and for that I thank him.”
Where possible, conclude your review with an assessment of whether a whale of a time was had or not.
Whales are the largest sea animal on the planet. They can also aptly convey to the reader the relative enjoyability of a live music performance. The following visual aid may be a handy tool to take along when attending a gig you’re reviewing.
By keeping these useful tips to mind, we’re confident that you’ll have the necessary skills to put together a killer review of a live music performance. Best of luck.