Straggly Recordings of Live Shows

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I was wondering yesterday if I’ll ever mosh again. Or, more to the point, if we’ll ever mosh again. Will the pit ever open UP? By the time the pit does OPEN UP, will my old frail bones (and fully developed mind) be comfortable colliding with the youths at some half-assed punk show? (Do I have to do the thing where I go, “Obviously this is low priority”?) Ahem: Obviously this is low priority.

But I was thinking this was because I don’t—and never did—really like moshing. I wouldn’t choose it. It often happened, and I was there, and then you’re moshing. A lot of going to live shows was basically like this—a collection of not good but very fun stuff: your favorite artist reduced to the quality of LOUD; new friend, call him stranger A, sweating on you; paying $7 for a beer that tastes like plastic.

Do you miss that too?

If so, I’ve been finding a balm in scratchy live performances of artists I like. I find in them a dose of the unexpected. And, as I live increasingly online, I find in them a respite from ill-fitting perfection in the optimized spaces I traverse digitally.

One of my favorites for this is Ryley Walker—an artist who uploads a ton to Patreon. You can pay a few bucks and join me. I’ve enjoyed “Live at Shibuya 7th Floor, Tokyo, Japan” and “Live in Paris @ Mona Bismarck American Center June 1 2017.” Walker interlaces his songs, sometimes long acoustic riffs, with chitchat that I find amusing. It’s nice to hear a human, you know?

Or you can listen to a few examples of Bob Dylan singing terribly, which I enjoy. Here’s “Pancho and Lefty,” and this concert from 1984 has horrific quality, and he just stops playing a song at 19 minutes for no reason. Great. I don’t want to be fully pleased at the moment. For me, there’s a certain cheeriness in seeking out the random and slightly broken but tolerable.

That’s the good news I got for you. Sorry, the real news is…hard to mine at the moment.

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FACT:

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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