This will come as a shock to you 20-somethings who are familiar only with DJs like Calvin Harris, but there are these other things in the world known as “bands,” composed of several musicians who play something called “live music.”
I know, it’s like I’m giving you a history lesson. What a bummer history is! So-called “bands” still roam the Earth. Bands are living history!
This coming Saturday, two of the most successful bands from our time/space continuum will perform at the Hard Rock Hotel — the Doobie Brothers and the Steve Miller Band.
Steve Miller rocked 1970s mega-hit songs named “The Joker” and “Fly Like An Eagle.” The Doobie Brothers created ’70s mega-hits called “Black Water” and “Takin’ It To The Streets.”
Oh, I know how I can convince you bands are a real thing. Have you ever seen people walking down the Strip carrying plastic drink containers around their necks in the shape of “guitars?” Well, bands often have people in them who play real guitars that look like bigger versions of those plastic drink guitars.
In the Doobie Brothers, the guy who plays the real guitar is Pat Simmons. I told Simmons I have become so accustomed to covering DJs and listening to Deadmau5 at home (true story), I was surprised to learn the Doobie Brothers still travel the nation with a whole mess of people onstage. They have eight musicians, or something crazy.
“I don’t think there will ever be a time when people won’t want to hear live music,” Simmons said back to me.
“Just because a guy (a DJ) has got some electronic gadget-storage unit that has a bunch of other people’s pre-recorded songs, that’s not a show. It’s entertainment.
“If there wasn’t a DJ there, they’d still be interacting. That’s the truth of it. People are social beings. They want to be out, interacting with each other.
“When you go see (a band) perform, it’s a total experience, a memory, something that lasts beyond the experience itself.”
Those are strong words. But don’t worry, DJ-lovers. Simmons said DJs are just all right with him, because he is not — qu’est-ce que c’est — a hater.
“I’m not saying great DJs don’t do some incredible mixing and presentation of the music,” by “creating cross fades and interesting effects for the songs, and different mixes of different songs,” he said. “That is valid.”
Speaking of computerized music, what Simmons does not find enthralling is Auto-Tune, the software that “corrects” singers’ voices. Being anti-Auto-Tune is like being anti-child molester. It’s a no-brainer. But let’s hear Simmons out.
“Even the greatest vocalists tend to throw automatic tuning on their voices,” he said. “It starts to make things sound a little bit generic.
“I went to see Paul McCartney a couple of years ago, and there was nothing pre-recorded, no Auto-Tune on his voice. There were moments when he was slipping and sliding here and there, and that added to it, because he was so great.
“It was real. It was happening right there in front of you.”
Wait. Music can happen in front of us? I haven’t seen that in so long, I was starting to believe “live music” was a dream that only promised to keep on a-rockin’ me, baby.
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.