Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Are You Experienced? 

In Seattle there exists a hideous building. Imagine a dog turd sprayed metallic blue, magenta, silver and black. This is the Experience Music Project and it is a very ugly building indeed. It's a horrible multi-coloured blob on the landscape next to the far more elegant Space Needle. For a better mental image than the dog one, why not try imagining Jenny Frost in her best make-up. Yes, it really is that bad.

Inside, however, it's a different story. The EMP has been set up by the co-founder of Microsoft and is a big museum of modern music and is a rather fun way to spend a Saturday morning. It may be a fun place to spend other days and times, but we can't say for certain as we only experienced it on a Saturday morning and we wouldn't like to stick our neck out.

The first exhibit we wandered round was a feature on Beatlemania and how it effected the US. The Beatles were basically a boy band that played their own instruments, they were a little bit like A1 in that respect, though not as good, obviously. People, in their rush to follow the herd and fail to have an original opinion of their own, have a tendency to forget the fact that The Beatles were one of the most marketed bands ever, plastering their images and faces on products at a rate that would put even the Spice Girls to shame, such was their money grabbing antics. And we're pretty sure that even they would have balked at the idea of a Magnetic Hair Game, which allowed you to use the power of magnetism combined with iron filings to create new hairstyles for your favourite mop-topped one.

At the end of this exhibition was an on-line questionaire which asked, with relation to the Beatles on-going success, "Which of todays bands and artists will still be successful and influential in 40 years time?". The answers gave an interesting insight into the thinking of American youth, and by 'interesting' we mean 'frightening'. Amongst the answers were such gems as The Dave Matthews Band, on numerous occasions. One person reasoned that they would remain successful because both he, and his dad liked the band. He considered this to be a good thing. One, rather hopeful and deluded person, suggested Godsmack, a number of people suggested Tupac Shakur, who's only real selling poing is that he's managed to release more records as a dead man than when he was alive. Oh, and Clay Aiken, which is a little bit like us suggesting Michelle McManus will still be successful in 40 minutes, let alone 4o years.

Next to this was a rather dull exhibition on Bruce Springsteen, though it did have the advantage of having a live version of Born to Run playing on the video screen. As is usual with anything associated with The Boss, there was a re-writing of history and the fact that he wrote Blue Toothbrush, Pink Toothbrush was criminally ignored.

Up on the third floor of the building exists the Sound Lab, which has lots of instruments and instructions on how to play them, so that you can come off sounding half decent. We were able to play along to the riff from the B-52's Rock Lobster, so we can safely say that it's a very ace place indeed. Again though, The Dave Matthews Band makes an unwanted appearence. Can someone please explain to the US citizens that dull, workman like rock is not something that should be encouraged, let alone revered.

Unsurprisingly, given that this is Seattle, there's a section on Grunge and Nirvana. This is all well and good, and we don't deny that as a scene it was important to the city, but it failed to make the ultimately important point that grunge as a musical form was irredeemably shit and should really be seen in a similar way to Iron Maiden. It's certainly not something that should be encouraged. We did, however, get a slight frission of joy when we found a flyer for a Nirvana show that listed Lush as the support band. Hooray for Lush!

Along side their celebration of the local music scene, was an exhibition celebrating local boy Jimi Hendrix. We don't like Hendrix, mainly becuase we consider guitar solos to be amongst the 7 Worst Things in the World... Ever! and feel that that sort of masterbatory action should either be carried out behind closed doors. Or at least be carried out in a more suitable establishment if you're going to charge for it. However, in carrying on our theme of being pleased at support slots, we were glad to notice a flyer for a gig which had him playing below Englebert Humperdick. Hooray, again!

The museum is a good place, and well worth a visit, but there is one problem with it, and it's a pretty major one; it manages to completely ignore the entire concept of pop music within it's walls, which strikes us as a major oversight. Aside from a Britney Spears doll in the Beatlemania exhibition, which served as an example of modern pop memorobilia, you could be forgiven for thinking that the top 40, glitter, fun, excitement, dancing and everything that's good and right about music fails to actually exist. There's more to music than being moody with a guitar and having straggly hair. As soon as we're back in the country we're going to make the first steps towards building the Steps Memorial Museum. Who's with us!? Oh, never mind then.