I go to quite a bunch of gigs and generally listen to a lot of music. I've noticed a trend, at least among bands that make their own music, that seems to have started quite recently, and I figured I want to discuss it with myself in writing.
a diskful of sounds
The first time I consciously noticed this was when Behemoth were announced to play Bloodstock '16, and almost immediately after it was announced that they were going to play The Satanist in full. I wasn't exactly surprised, it's a really great album, hailed by many as best of this decade, but it seemed a bit unusual. Bands usually tend to mix their set up a bit instead of doing whole albums.
The concept is hardly new, it just got buried under the whole streaming service avalanche. Remember that when people used to buy physical media to listen to music, it came in albums. It usually came with some lyrics or other fun bits as well, and you would usually listen to it in full. There are even artists who absolutely refuse to put their stuff on streaming services for the specific reason that they want people to listen to their albums in full instead of picking just songs they like, in random order and context. For a long time, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin were part of the bunch, but they finally caved a while ago, presumably for a lot of money. Most annoyingly for me, Tool is one of them as well, and knowing Maynard, is very unlikely to give in.
I've been to a number of gigs recently that have been one band shows of 3+ hours, no warm up acts or anything like that. There was "An Evening With Machine Head" earlier in the year. Then there was "An Evening With Primus'" which involved them playing two sets: one set of regular songs, and then a Willy Wonka themed show with oompa-loompas on stage, etc.
I've just now been to another gig like that: last Friday, Oct 21 Katatonia played a two part gig in Shepherd's Bush, consisting of a regular set plus one of my favourite albums ever, The Great Cold Distance, in full.
i am resurrection and life
I'm definitely excited that a lot of bands are ditching warmups and doing full tours with big sets. Three hours of any of my favourites live is just pure bliss, and, having spent years playing bass myself, mad respect for the musicians. When you see blood in pictures, trust me, that's not make up, that's 3 hours of guitarwork.
All that said, is the album format making a comeback? I'd argue that as with many things, it's the extreme end of the spectrum that sets the trends, and vinyl hipsters have been listening to music by-the-album for quite some time now. I can't be bothered to deal with vinyl, but I do consume all of my music in albums. Making random playlists of random tracks just kills it for me. A lot of work goes into the composition of an album and figuring out the order of the tracks, and a lot of the time order really matters.
What about you? Where do you think this is headed? Let us know in the comments!
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