Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

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KBD_TRACKER
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Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by KBD_TRACKER » Mon Dec 15, 2014 4:24 pm

I was looking at resident advisor top 20 live acts 2014:
http://www.residentadvisor.net/feature.aspx?2329

I am personally very interested in live acts in electronic music: not only the technical side of it but also the human relationship side of it (musician-people, people-people, etc.).
So I looked at you tube videos of most of these 20 acts (boiler room stuff, etc.) ... and I'd say more than half had a laptop on stage, in front of them...

for example:
jon hopkins:
gaiser:
matador:
etc.etc.

I know I am exposing myself to criticism or worse :o , but for me, a live act using a laptop during performance (even though other gear such as synths are also, or seem to be, used) is not and cannot be truly a live act. In this case it is to me misleading and almost fraudulent to use the word "live".

So to look at RA top 20 live acts, this is not about dissing individuals or not respecting the musical artistry of these guys, in fact in some cases I really dig their music, but somehow in my book, the usage of a computer during a proclaimed "live" act is almost akin to lip syncing or using backing tracks: it is like saying: "our stuff would sound not-so-great truly live, or we decided to leave half our gear in the studio, so.... here you go".
Do people really need to pay $50 to hear pre-recorded stuff even on a great PA system ?

Also I understand that samplers and modern synths do contain microprocessors and memory, etc. so are more and more related to computers. And I certainly have no problem with ITB recorded music. I myself do occasionally ITB stuff. But to me live music is special, is about immediacy, spontaneity, serendipity, and really some risk-taking. With a hard drive containing possibly 100s of files and tracks and hours of prerecorded sound, and processors with 100s of pre-selected parameters, what remains of the notion of "live", of risk ?? The audience is stuck as a lab animal fed some wholly unknown stuff (in origin).

So call me weird, snob, bigoted or juvenile ... , next time I step into a so-called electronic "live" performance and notice a laptop on stage, I'll be walking out right away (and try to get a refund).
</rant> :mrgreen:

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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by Big Gnome » Mon Dec 15, 2014 4:47 pm

Pssst--! People using laptops onstage aren't necessarily just playing s**t off of itunes, you know.
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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by Bitexion » Mon Dec 15, 2014 4:47 pm

People come to be entertained. Entertainment is more than watching a guy stand behind a wall of synthesizers.

It's everything else they pay to see. The massive laser and light show. Dance with friends. Big LCD screen showing crazy graphics. Hearing the music through a monster PA system (who has that at home?) Whatever. It's not just about seeing some guy perform songs live anymore.

You wouldnt come to a Jean Michel Jarre show and expect to see only him hiding behind 20 synths, and even if he had spider legs he wouldn't be able to play all of them at once anyway. People are having fun even if the artist is playing his tracks from a laptop. That's what matters. Not that he's using a Jupiter-8 or Jupiter-4 for a particular sound.

When I go to see Iron Maiden I expect to see the blokes playing live of course. But electronic music is something different, it can't really be played "live" since alot of it exists only as tracks in Ableton live that he's prepared in advance. No EDM artist is playing his own songs off iTunes on stage.

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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by SSquirrel » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:20 pm

You are aware that some of their instruments may be entirely software based right? Like they could be using Thor or Dune as a synth, playing it live, but it runs on the laptop. Bands like Nine Inch Nails make heavy use of the MainStage program on their Macs to help control everything from the lights to making sure everyone has the correct sounds loaded up for the next track.

Your view is extremely limited. This isn't Aphex Twin laying on a couch playing Quake while his music plays, like some of my friends saw several years ago. There is no reason a laptop can't be utilized in a fully live manner that doesn't involve running backing tracks or just playing the entire audio straight. Milli Vanilli this is not :)

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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by tim gueguen » Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:05 pm

These guys would be surprised to hear their performance isn't truly live because several of them use computers onstage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.I.M.E.O.
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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by Jabberwalky » Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:12 pm

So what you want is another Depeche Mode? How else would someone perform most electronic music entirely live.

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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by Cumulus » Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:56 pm

It is entirely possible to use a laptop to play live music.

Having said that, I am also sometimes put off seeing a laptop on stage.

I recently met Alan Wilkis and we chatted about his set up. I got a close look at it while he was packing it up after a show I worked recently. He has a laptop running Ableton, which he triggers manually but that did not take away from the performance at all because there were several "real" instruments onstage alongside him and his computer.

It really depends on how and how much it's being used. That can be hard to tell but when you think about it, the absence of a laptop doesn't make the act any more likely to be live...

I have been behind the scenes for several acts, large and small over the past few years and I can tell you that many so-called live acts are playing to tracks. Some of them are just miming along while others use tracks just for certain bits of the show. Few festival bands use no tracks at all. Buck Cherry is the only one that comes to mind right now.

I like everything to be played live and that includes the laptop,

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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by Chewy » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:26 am

I haven't read all the replies in their entirety (I've read pieces of all of them, though) and it seems like I'm the only one that agrees with you, KBD_TRACKER... which is kinda funny considering I'm only 18, haha

I only use hardware now, except for recording, but:
If someone's using a laptop or tablet running a DAW/tracker to sequence their gear, I'm fine with that; If someone's using a laptop or tablet to record their performance, I'm fine with that too; If someone's using a laptop or tablet for some sounds but using hardware for others, I'm even fine with that; but if someone's just pressing play to run an entirely pre-recorded/pre-made track or just pressing play in their DAW and letting it do everything, it is certainly not "live" to me.

A little off topic but related: another thing that irks me is when people think electronic music is either only created entirely with software or only created with turntables. "DJs" basically play songs that other people made, maybe with slight edits, which is why they are called "DJs" in the first place. Even when it's people spinning/scratching to make the songs more like their own creation, it's really not (unless the tracks one's working with are self-made, obviously), and being a DJ does not make you a musician. I have nothing against DJs, and certainly someone can be a DJ and an electronic musician at the same time as some people are, but I'm tired of so many people regarding all EM as made by DJs. (Also tired of so many people calling any electronic music they hear "dubstep," but I won't go into that)

In response to people asking how one person could play a setup with sound coming entirely from hardware at once: sequencers; whether they're hardware or software. Not trying to be a d**k or smart a*s with that answer, and obviously you guys know this, but it's true. (And I am aware that sequencing may not really be "playing" in some peoples' definitions, but still). Play one (or maybe two) synths at a time by hand and have a sequencer doing so with the other gear, while still tweaking knobs/sliders with a free hand when you need to.

Long post, sorry about that, heh. Just wanted to put that out there

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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:27 am

A tool is a tool is a tool is a tool.

If the laptop is all there is on stage I'd feel a little concerned about being cheated though.

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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by Z » Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:35 am

I don't mind a rock band using a laptop to supplement their sound. There's a band here in Forth Worth called The Burning Hotels that do that - a lot of the synth stuff on the lappy while they play their guitars and drums.

But I was totally disappointed when I saw Com Truise play a show here in Fort Worth and all he did was trigger stuff on his laptop. I think an electronic act should be PLAYING at least one synth. Otherwise, what's the point? Might as well stay home and listen to the CD.
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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by Big Gnome » Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:06 am

Cumulus wrote: have been behind the scenes for several acts, large and small over the past few years and I can tell you that many so-called live acts are playing to tracks. Some of them are just miming along while others use tracks just for certain bits of the show.
Too true! I worked stage crew and spotlight for Boyz II Men a few years back, and they were literally singing along with the unadulterated album tracks tracks--straight up 2-track in ProTools, backstage left by the monitor guy. That was a weird experience. :lol:
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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by salwa » Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:16 am

I'm pretty sure we had this discussion before, few times actually, and it was done to death. I even think KBD_TRACKER started one of this threads before.
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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by gcoudert » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:27 am

I don't mind 'some' pre-recorded material but only within reason. For example, if a band hasn't got a drummer or a drum machine is part of their sound, that's fine. If a major artist performs a live virtual duet alongside pre-recorded audio and/or video footage of the other singer, I'm OK with that too (I'm thinking Brad Paisley with Alabama or Andy Griffith). If the track contains, say, complex orchestral parts that cannot be reproduced on stage easily, then fine. If some parts are not easily playable, e.g. fast, repetitive sequences, then I think it's OK too.

What does bother me is when some bands play along to pre-recorded but perfectly playable parts. When I took my daughter to the Taylor Swift concert at the O2 earlier this year, the support act (British band The Vamps) played live to pre-recorded keyboard parts, presumably following an unnecessary click track, and I could not help but wonder why there wasn't a keyboard player up there on stage with them.
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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:46 am

Z wrote: [...] I think an electronic act should be PLAYING at least one synth. Otherwise, what's the point? Might as well stay home and listen to the CD.
Exactly.

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Re: Saying it's live with a laptop next ....

Post by Weirdofromouterspace » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:05 am

Z wrote:I don't mind a rock band using a laptop to supplement their sound. There's a band here in Forth Worth called The Burning Hotels that do that - a lot of the synth stuff on the lappy while they play their guitars and drums.
I saw Spock's Beard back in September: While Ryo still has synth/organ/piano castle walls around him, threre was no actual Mellotron on the stage. He played the sounds from a laptop (you could even see the current sound patch on the display from the audience ;) ) via a MIDI (I suppose) keyboard.

I'm fine with that. Who cares if it is an analog or a digital Tron, or a hardware sampler, or a software sampler?
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