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If A Band Plays and No One Hears it, Does it Still Rock? 

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This past weekend I made it out to a local bar to hear an out-of-town band play — I'll leave identifying names out to protect the dignity of those involved — and as it happened to be during the Kinetic weekend, the looming potential of almost no one showing up came to be an actuality. This was unfortunate for many reasons, and for many involved, but mostly because this band was damn good. But enough about that...

While the eight or so of us in the audience enjoyed the band, I noticed a man poke his head into the bar to check out the music. He immediately noticed — I assume — that there were probably more folks currently in the back of APD squad cars than at the show. After a quick scan of the "crowd," he high-tailed it for a better-attended venue somewhere else.

I, of course, don't blame him for not sticking around, but it was interesting that what was being sussed out — from my vantage point — was not the quality of the music being performed but, rather, the quantity of bipedal life forms grooving in the vicinity of the band. To me, it was a brilliant reminder that live music serves many purposes and satisfies many senses. We tend to think of our ears as being the main beneficiaries of a concert, and we're not wrong to think that. However, there's more to it.

A friend of mine used to shun live shows because he could "just listen to the music on headphones at home." That's true, but he was missing out on much of the magic. A studio album is a wonderful work of art, and something that never dies. A live show however, is something that exists only in a moment, and is never the same again. It's a combination of the band, their music, the notes they play, the liquid — or other — intoxicants cruising through your body and the other people who are there. A live show is a social event, even if you don't speak to a single soul there. There's a wonderful feedback loop of energy that occurs between the band and the audience. Generally, the more one gives, the more one gets. The best live show you've ever seen would not have been the same had it been a private concert just for you. So if a band plays for no one, do they still rock? Sure, just not as much.

Thursday

I hope you all have recovered from a busy Kinetic weekend; it's not looking like this one'll be slowing down much, but such is the sweet summery life here in Humboldt. Ease into it with a show at The Jam in Arcata with North Carolinians Yarn, who have just released an album called This is the Year. Influenced by tough-as-nails troubadours such as Waylon, Willie and Merle, this Grammy-nominated band will entertain some pre-summer crowds with locals Blacksage Runners at 10 p.m.

Let me back up, so to speak; at 9 p.m. you'll find a four-band bill at Richard's Goat Tavern and Tea Room. Existing simultaneously on both Burger Records and Hardly Art record labels (two is better than one?) is La Luz, an "all lady outfit," I'm told, that's "heavy on the vocal harmonies and swaying surf guitar" and has a unique and hypnotizing sound. Sounds good. Joining the band, from Seattle, is Sad Sick World, a group "on a catchy search for pop truth." Local support provided by The Monster Women and Chachi Hands. $7 for this sonic pop jamboree.

Friday

The New Directions Cello Festival starts off in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on HSU's campus. Public performances start around 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased for $20, or $12 for students. The festival runs through Sunday, so for a full list of performers check out the Journal calendar.

Hot Buttered Rum is no stranger to Humboldt County and the band is currently in the process of recording three five-song EPs with the first to be released this fall. If you're lucky, you'll get to hear some of those songs at the Arcata Theatre Lounge at 8:30 p.m. Doubling down on the good times, local favorites The Absynth Quartet starts the show off so you'll be nice and warmed up. Bring $20 to get in the door and the rest will work itself out.

It's the first night of a multi-weekend music fest called BPBS Fest. Oryan of long-running-local band Datura Blues is putting this all together and you can catch the kickoff at Blondie's in Arcata. You'll hear Die Geister Beschwören, which formed in Arcata back in the 20th century to play "primitive folk noir;" Rllrbll, a 23-year-old Portland psychedelic progressive rock trio; and Susurrus Station, an experimental-pop duo that also hails from Stumptown. The first day of the fest is free so get on down at 9 p.m.

In Eureka, starting around the same time you'll find originally surfabilly and "instro sounds" from Roland Rock for free at the Siren's Song Tavern.

Saturday

The 2016 Summer Arts and Music Festival kicks off and will run through Sunday. The list of performers is too long to reproduce here so keep flippin' through these here pages to get a better grasp of this two-day festival in So Hum.

Holding it down in No Hum is the LaPatina Band, which will delight at least one of your senses at the Redwood Curtain Brewing Company in Arcata. They're going on around 8 p.m. and won't be asking for any of your money — but they'll gladly accept it — so feel free to wish Jeff DeMark a happy belated birthday or leave him a gift.

The Blue Lake Casino and Hotel welcomes back premier local cover band The Undercovers. Playing a wide range of hits from a range of decades, the band will take the stage at 9 p.m. for this free show.

Sunday

It's Sunday, so that means the Jazz Jam is happening at Blondie's in Arcata at 6 p.m. Hear talented local musicians work and play together. It's a free show so you can afford that classy beer you've been eyeballin'.

The only folks I've heard of who are bold enough to defend modern country music — outside of Journal assistant editor Grant Scott-Goforth [ed. note: haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate] — will be at the Little Red Lion Cocktail Lounge at 8 p.m. Redneck Baby is a duo from Portland that performs amplified acoustic covers of pop country songs along with some of their originals in the same vein. If nothing else, you've got to give them credit for standing up and defending a genre that is more or less critically shat upon by anyone who can read (too far?), so reward them by showing up.

Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to music@northcoastjournal.com.

Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Night Show on KWPT 100.3 FM weeknights at 6 p.m. He hopes more than eight people are reading this.

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Andy Powell

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