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There is nothing wrong with hating rock critics

October 16, 2008

Tonight, I saw Good Night, States at Bar Bleu, my first of four straight nights of concerts. It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen them, but I think I dug this set the best.

Tomorrow night, I’ll be checking out La Otracina and local favorites the Evening Fires at Chronic Town, and the following night I’ll be seeing my roommates’ band Matthew and the Judes open for Forgive Durden and Ace Enders (for whom I’m not sure if I’ll be sticking around).

Then of course there’s Saturday night, for which I’m growing increasingly excited. I’ll be reviewing the show for Jersey Beat, too, which will be the four hundredth time I get to say “I’m back” (in this case, because it’ll be my first freelance gig since early July, save for the couple APW reviews I threw together in mid-August).

But for as hyped as I am, I want to make something clear. Don’t expect to see words like “good” or “great” in my review (and definitely don’t expect “bad” or “terrible”). This is not because I don’t anticipate a good show.

This is because I’ll be making a conscious effort to refrain from making value judgments on this sort of thing. There are a few reasons for this.

First and most importantly, I’m trying to take a detached, journalistic approach to this whole ordeal. While I’ll likely have to get pretty close to the musicians I’m covering, I feel it necessary to maintain a certain level of distance so as to ensure fair coverage. Of course, I’m not looking to expose anything (nor do I expect to find anything worth “exposing”), but I’m not writing about these folks because I like them or even because I think they’re “good.” I’m writing about them because I think it’s an interesting and important story, objectively and otherwise.

Second, it’s just bad criticism to resort to subjective terms like that. “The show was good” tells the reader nothing about what happened at the event other than “the writer enjoyed it,” and frankly, the only person who would care about a review like that is my mom, and she doesn’t read all of my stuff anyway. It’s far important to offer the specifics of what happened (although the writer still has full discretion over what he actually mentions) and let the readers decide for themselves whether or not it was a worthwhile endeavor. If there is any objective “good” or “bad” in art (and I’d argue that there is), these words are ostensibly meaningless.

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