Face Off: Live v. Recorded

In Face Off, WPGU music staff writers will argue for different sides of the same topic. The experiences and knowledge of these music lovers could introduce you to a different perspective on the issue. Read their opinions on the subject and then add your own in the comments.
This month, we’ll look at whether it’s better to listen to music that’s been recorded and carefully produced, or to see bands live in concert.

The Live Experience

Last year, I had the opportunity to go on stage at a hip/hop concert here at Assembly Hall. At the time I thought, “Hey, this is pretty cool!” That was until MC Jay Electronica handed me the mic. Thankfully I conquered that moment’s anxiety and led the capacity crowd in U of I’s battle cry, “I-L-L-I-N-I.” You never forget moments like those, and reflecting on it makes me wonder how anyone would prefer listening to recorded material to enjoying a live show. The best performers are those that genuinely care for their fans, brushing aside fatigue and putting on a show that leaves a mark on those attending.

Recorded material may sound better than the stuff you hear at a live show nine out of ten times. This is an uncontested fact, however you don’t really connect with the artist or the music until you hear it live. There’s no performer-fan interaction with recorded music, and certainly no interaction between the fans. Music leaks left and right now a days, at times months before a record’s release date. The Internet essentially took the “event” out of a new record’s release. The “event” in question is the listening event that artists such as Radiohead and Kanye West have tried to resurrect, avoiding leaks so that their fans listen to their material at the same time.

This brings me to the rise in popularity of music festivals around the country. It seems as if every year each festival tries to one-up another, providing more stages and superior artists’. Does this benefit us fans or shy us away with laughable admission prices? Every show costs money, and if you are truly passionate about your favorite artists’ and their music, you oft look past the price. It’s all about the experience, the experience of being among your peers, perhaps enjoying a cold brew, singing along to the chorus, and most definitely bobbing your head back and forth to the beat. It’s essentially a religious experience.
By José Tamayo

The Recorded Perfection

I’m sure my man José will utilize some reasons like nostalgia and talent to back his opinion of live music. I mean, sure, it is fun to see the person you hear on the radio actually play the music in front of you. But let us not lose sight of the entire reason that artists perform live music in the first place: and that’s because of the music that they gain fame for recording. Professionally recorded music is the bulk of what occupies any record store, iTunes store, or anyone’s iPod. Live music is seen simply as a supplement to add on to the recording.

Imagine this: You go to see an artist, say, Arcade Fire in concert. Let’s say you have never heard any of Funeral, Neon Bible, or the Suburbs before, and therefore know nothing about them. Your listening experience is bathed in complete ignorance. It is needless to say that without any recorded music, live music loses most of its effect.

Additionally, recorded music allows for a flawless representation of an artist’s ability. If live music was truly the preferred type of music, Coldplay fans would be bombarded to Chris Martin’s voice cracks, rappers like Lupe Fiasco running out of breath, and artists like Passion Pit failing to hit their high notes. What would we sing along to in the shower?

Jose, you’re my man, but I just can’t side with you here. Live music wouldn’t exist without the flawless representation of recorded music. There is something to be said for going to a concert, but also, the concerts would be extremely unappealing if there was no basis for which to go to them. You have to respect the origins of the live music, and the origins are in recorded music.
By Boswell Hutson

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