Published on March 15th, 2011 | by Danger0
Synth Pop Saturday…Sort of
By Alex Danger Stewart
What: OMD @ the Park West, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL
When: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Did you go to this Show? Almost
OMD stands for Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark (Get it? They mean fucking). When one hears mention of the group, their reaction is, OMD? You mean that group who did How Bizarre?” Met with the realization that they are, in fact, thinking of OMC, one’s next thought is, I don’t know who OMD is.” Then one is told that OMD was the group who did the song If You Leave from the Pretty In Pink soundtrack.
Oh shit!” one thinks, I love that song.” Because everyone loves that song. Not all the time, mind you, but everyone has found themselves, at one point, dancing to it and luxuriating in the icy sadness. They were probably drunk, or one of those people who spent a lot of their teen years reading alone in their room. This is the purpose of British Synth Pop from the 80s.
Did OMD have many other songs that were created years before (and during the many years since) Pretty in Pink? Probably. Do some people care? Also probably.
These are the thoughts I had met with a couple of weeks ago when my colleague, Patrick, sent me a text message asking if I’d like to review OMD and Oh Land at the Park West. I replied to the tune of, Sure. +1?” because this is what I always reply unless I have prior plans or a school thing. Mr. Patrick responded, Yep,” because there is always a +1 when I’m put on a press list. Always (this is foreshadowing).
That is how I found myself walking East on Armitage Ave with my girlfriend (she’s from two towns over, you probably don’t know her) on Saturday evening. I invited her to go with me because I could, free dates are a good idea, and she’s fun to be with which is a good antidote for what would probably be a boring concert. She accepted the invitation because, Hey, free concert.”
We approached the information box and I said, I should be on the press list.” The friendly woman behind the window asked for my ID to verify my identity in relation to the name on the list. This is how the process works. She returned my ID with a single ticket. It should be a plus one situation,” assuming she had made a mistake. No,” she replied, this says just the one ticket,”
I paused, Hmm, okay,” and said, Nevermind. Have a nice night,” as I walked away.
Why did I do this?
Cause I’m a pimp.
You see, there are some rituals and rules within the culture/relationship between live music and live music criticism. Assuming the scholar Margaret Mead’s definition of culture as, the learned behavior of a society or subgroup, a breaking of these rules can be viewed as disregarding some very basic ethical rules/mores within the live music culture. It’s like not signaling when you change lanes in a car or failing to hold the elevator door for a neighbor in your apartment building. You probably won’t be ticketed or punished, but you’re still kind of a dick.
Back to my pimpery: One of the most basic ritual rules within this Live Music/Music Criticism relationship is the +1 on the guest list. It is very common for promo/PR people contact publications and request a review of an upcoming event. It’s a way of rustling up coverage for events that would otherwise not get very much. They offer free admission for the writer and a guest (if they so choose). This is done for two reasons:
1. It’s an incentive to get writers to take time out of their schedule to sit through and then take the time to review a group of puffy, 50 year old British fellows who look like a slightly more gargoylic Jonathon Ross. The idea is that a writer can take a friend with them so they have someone to talk with. Some people aren’t too found of attending concerts by themselves, especially concerts by groups that one might not otherwise have an interest in.
2. As a bit of a joke on writers. It’s a profession that has a reputation for being filled with people who aren’t exactly bursting at the seems with social skills. As a whole, writers tend to be less likely to have lots of friends,or people of romantic intentions, who can be invited to such things. This joke is very funny. Good one, PR folks.
I’m hardly an old hat at this game, but having reviewed five or six shows for Sock Monkey Sound (and declined to review 3 or 4 more) at the request of a promo contact, I’m pretty well versed in the ritual of the process. A PR person contacts someone at the website. They ask me to review some show that I didn’t know was occurring. I say yes because it will be good exposure for my words and seems like a professional thing to day. I ask if I’ll have a plus one, they say yes, and then I invite a friend or my ladyfriend to said show. I write a review. Everyone wins! That’s how it works every time. If I’m told that I don’t have to make a solo outing to a concert that I wouldn’t otherwise care about, I plans accordingly. I have like 10 friends, you guys. I use that +1.
That is, unless someone drops the ball and just reserves one admission for me. If I were really serious about this job, I probably would have turned to my girlfriend and said, Well, I guess I lied about the two tickets thing. I’m gonna go review this concert by a band with one recognizable song instead of finding another fun activity that we can do together. You should call your friends and find someone who is free to hang out at 9pm on a Saturday night. Have fun! Yes, anonymous PR guy, that is exactly what I would do if I were very serious about this job.
Guess what? I’m not even close to serious!
Look, here’s a photo of a yawning puppy
So yeah: I’m sure Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark sound very professional and synth poppy. I’m sure they played If You Leave and everyone who was enthusiastic about paying money to hear that song had a very fun time. Oh Land is a singer from Denmark and New York City and she sounds like a Danish Robyn. I’m sure her live show followed suit.
Your guess is as good as mine.
P.S.- That picture at the top is from Google. They were supposed to email me photos too.