Andrew McMillen

How To Be A Live Music Critic

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Everyone seems to be loving this series, so we thought we’d reprint this gem from CB contributor Andrew McMillen’s blog dated April 20th, 2009 – Ed.

  • You must smile smugly when informing the door staff that you are attending on behalf of your allotted publication.
  • You may use several sentences to comment or complain about external factors that led to you missing half or all of the first band’s set.
  • You may attempt to capture the zeitgeist wherever possible, by referring to wider societal, economic or meteorological factors.
  • You must understand the importance of the zeitgeist if you are a music critic.
  • You may refer to the band’s stage attire or between-song banter if you are unable to accurately or coherently describe their music.
  • You may refer to the venue’s drink prices and the temperament of the bar staff only if you are still short of the word limit, even after describing stage attire and between-song banter.
  • You must not use more than half of your word limit to describe the band’s music. This is a waste of valuable words, which could be better devoted to describing stage attire, between-song banter, drink prices and/or bar staff temperament.
  • You must make reference to other artists’ sound when describing any band, for comparisons are the lifeblood of the music critic.
  • You may describe a band’s sound as ‘(genre)-tinged’, ‘robust’, ‘edgy’ or ‘angular’, even though you know that these words are meaningless filler.
  • You may not research support bands on MySpace before the show.
  • You may insist that you did not research the support bands on MySpace before the show because you wanted to “be surprised”.
  • You may insist that you did not research the support bands on MySpace before the show because you wanted to “approach with an open mind”.
  • You must never concede that the real reason you did not research the support bands on MySpace before the show is because you are lazy.
  • You may get inappropriately drunk, scrawl meaningless notes which you can’t decipher the next day, forget most of what happened during the show and rely on friends’ accounts and sheer bullshit to scrape together your pitiful pile of words to meet the limit.
  • You must realise that the above description accurately captures the actions of most music critics.
  • You may drink no alcohol, take thoughtful notes, and live vicariously through the rest of the drinking crowd, purely to perpetuate the stereotype that all journalists are hard drinkers.
  • You may not have “just a couple” of drinks. This is completely unheard of.
  • You may slightly nod your head to the rhythm of the bass drum.
  • You may alternate between slightly nodding your head and slightly tapping your right foot to the rhythm of the bass drum.
  • You may not, at any point, gyrate your body or move your arms in response to the music.
  • You may only move your arms to imbibe your drink, or when writing notes while in the process of capturing your thoughts of pure brilliance.
  • You must have your notebook and pen at the ready whenever a band is playing, in order to capture your thoughts of pure brilliance at the exact moment they come to you.
  • You may use the above act for overtly advertising that you are a music critic.
  • You may tell members of the opposite sex that you are a music critic when they ask why you are taking notes.
  • You may lick your lips before responding to the above question, as the questioner will undoubtedly want to make out with you immediately after discovering that you are a music critic.
  • You must refer to any weekday night as a “school night”. While there is some contention as to whether Thursday and Sunday qualify as “school nights”, there are no exceptions to Friday or Saturday.
  • You must have a smug smile on your face as you write the words “school night”, as if it’s some incredibly clever and original phrase.
  • You must treat every show you see as a music critic with the utmost sincerity, because watching three bands play music to people for a few hours is the most important thing in the world.

11 Responses to How To Be A Live Music Critic

  1. Pingback: 10 Worst Things I Ever Did As A Live Music Critic « Reinspired

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