Monday, March 2, 2009

Live music at Showcase: a failure

I would like to preface this by letting you know I was really excited to go to Showcase. It’s a club, or boîte en français, that I had heard a lot of really good things about, found nestled underneath Pont Alexandre off the Champs-Elysées. A group of us had been looking forward to this night of dancing for a while and were very disappointed when we arrived to find music not at all suited to our dancing mood.

We went in early to avoid paying the 15 euro cover charge and expected the club to be relatively dead for another half hour. What we didn’t expect was to feel dead ourselves, but that’s the feeling that the music induced. A male singer whined onstage, vaguely in time to depressing drumbeats and somewhat in tune to mediocre guitar. Perhaps I would feel more charitable to this emo band had I not been so anxiously waiting for some music that would make me feel like dancing. Farah and I tried to sway to the music and attempt an optimistic outlook on the situation but it we sat down after a bit after we realized it was hopeless.

When the band finally finished their set we perked up and were again optimistic that something good would come on, but the dudes (they were dudes) who got on stage next were even worse. They were three guys who clearly loved American Apparel and strived for the tragic hipster look so popular among 20-somethings in New York. They played live electronica that was neither exciting nor agreeable, and that in fact made us want to flee the club. The main dude mostly messed around on some kind of touch pad that controlled some aspect of the mixing. He was going crazy with it but his enthusiasm on stage was in now way mirrored on the dance floor, which was uncomfortably empty. To add insult to injury, he would occasionally yell out, “One, two, three, four,” in English, seemingly without reason that was jarring to our American ears.

I think the dude working the electric keyboard was worse. He was wearing a deep v-neck t-shirt with gratuitous chest hair peeking out the top. He would raise his arms periodically, showing off nasty armpit sweat stains. Not hip. We could have forgiven this unsightly gesture if the sounds emitted from their set weren’t ear-splitting and thoroughly un-dance worthy. We honestly tried to make our bodies move to the erratic beats, but unpredictable screeching didn’t do the trick.

It’s hard for me to tell how bad the music truly was from an objective standpoint. If it had been a stand-alone concert at a different venue, I may have felt indifferent toward it, or maybe even liked it since I do like some emo music as well as electronica. Their presence, however, in a dance club that had been hyped up, was thoroughly unpleasant and felt flat-out wrong. In the setting of a dance club, the music needs to reflect the purpose of the club and fulfill the wishes of the people who go there. Jen astutely surmised that since it was winter vacation for most French university students, Showcase may have been having an off-week. This is possible. It is unfortunate that we were there to witness the off-week and I don’t know if I’m willing to give it another go.

To summarize the live music experience at Showcase, I would use two words: tragic mismatch.

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