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Amplified Observations: Long songs need structural, conceptual support

http://www.thepostathens.com/article/2016/09/are-long-songs-better-than-short-songs

Long songs are like suspension bridges. If there’s not enough support they collapse into troubled waters, taking with them everyone on board.

But if the cords manage to hold and the concept and engineering is strong enough, the bridge delivers its travelers safely to the other side.

Songs that indulge in themselves must be engrossing enough to the listener as to dispel the feeling that the listener is wasting precious time crossing a bridge to nowhere. They must make a connection to the listener, through storytelling, relatable experiences or stirring riffs and chords. Sometimes one of these is enough and sometimes it takes all three.

This primarily applies to rock songs ranging from seven minutes and longer. Since most jazz and classical works rely on movements and improvisation, they’ll have to wait in traffic until this column is over. There’s no way to establish movements or improvise without taking your time, but things could easily fall apart just as well.

Storytelling, the simplest of these three methods, captures the audience using narrative suspense like in Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane” or George Thorogood’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” Everyone enjoys a good story and if the tale draws us in, we usually find out what happens in the end.

Other artists use powerful phrasing and relatable sentiments to hold attention for long stretches. My Morning Jacket’s “I Will Sing You Songs” and Yes’ near 19 minute opus “Close to the Edge” achieve this effect quite well.

But it’s most impressive when these two techniques are combined with a display of sheer musicality. When the melodies are memorable and the riffs are rockin, no one will want to tap the right double arrow.

Examples include Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird,” Yo La Tengo’s “Night Falls on Hoboken” and, of course, Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

Sometimes musicians cheat a little bit and stitch two compositions together into one long track like Elton John’s “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” and Grand Funk Railroad’s “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home).” But whatever you call it, the changeup is effective at shaking off boredom and listener fatigue, a pitfall to song length.

It’s difficult to recall specific songs that fall apart after a certain point, probably because culture forgets them or they lack inventiveness. But it would be accurate to say that sometimes boring riffs go on for too long and lyrics sound uninteresting and soulless at a certain point (“Revolution 9”). Not every song has to be as long as Sufjan Stevens’ 25 minute album closer “Impossible Soul.” I would prefer if they weren’t.

But long songs tend to be worth the effort, even if some might bring wasted time. They have more space to convey a moving atmosphere and make a sonic connection.

It’s all about staying in the slow lane of that suspension bridge and enjoying the scenic view. It’ll distract you long enough to realize that you’re already on the other side.

Weekender Briefs: Weekend events include Soulja Boy performance, annual fiber fair

http://www.thepostathens.com/article/2016/09/athens-weekend-events-fiber-fair

Just as Parents Weekend is a tradition at Ohio University, so is the weekend after when students don’t have to chauffeur mom and dad around. Instead, they could spend their energy at one of the many shows, festivals and sporting events taking place over the weekend.

Two festival-like events are happening this weekend, although they do not have much crossover: Riverfest II ft. Soulja Boy and the annual Athens Area Fiber Faire. Riverfest II will be held at the River Gate Apartments featuring several DJs and performers, including Soulja Boy whose mantra-heavy hit “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” stirred up the feet of a generation. Tickets to the festival cost $20 and are available online or at The Shack on Court Street.

The third annual Athens Area Fiber Faire, where focus rests more on hands instead of feet, offers an opportunity to purchase fiber-related products like yarn and attend several classes in the “fiber art” scheduled over two days at the Athens Community Center.

If You Go:

Friday

What: 3 Girls Rock Into A Bar

Where: Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium

When: 8 p.m., Friday

Admission: $10 general admission


What: Ohio Hockey vs. Kent State

Where: Bird Arena

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday

Admission: $5 for students, $7 for non-students

Saturday

What: Strictly Hip Hop with DJ plate a shrimp

Where: Casa Nueva, 6 W. State St.

When: 10 pm., Saturday

Admission: Free


What: Ohio Hockey vs. Kent State

Where: Bird Arena

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday

Admission: $5 for students, $7 for non-students


What: Diana Chittester and The Summoners

Where: Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday

Admission: $5 in advance, $7 general admissions


What: Riverfest II ft. Soulja Boy

Where: River Gate Apartments, 10 Rufus St.

When: 2 p.m., Saturday

Admissions: Tickets available for $20


What: “Druid Rocks Out for Harambe”

Where: Smiling Skull Saloon, 108 W. Union St.

When: 9 p.m., Saturday

Admission: $3 cover


What: Acoustic Jazz Night with John Horne

Where: Athens Uncorked, 14 Station St.

When: 8 p.m., Saturday

Admission: Free

If students are looking for music this weekend, they’re especially in luck if fans of metal or hip-hop.

Watch Them Rot, Beyond the Abyss, T.F.U. and Monocle will play in the Casa Cantina at 10 p.m. on Friday. On the other side of town, Athens rock band Druid will perform at The Smiling Skull Saloon at 9 p.m. on Saturday. Both shows will have a $3 cover charge.

Mission Man, a hip hop artist from Oxford, will perform an “upbeat and dancey” set at Donkey Coffee & Espresso this Saturday at 8 p.m. with Hong Kong Rubber Bands opening. In addition, DJ plate a shrimp will be cutting “old school, true school and golden era hip hop” in a live mix at Strictly Hip Hop held in the Casa Cantina at 10 p.m. on Saturday.

OU’s Stage Door Series will present two shows this weekend. Country-twinged rockers 3 Girls Rock Into A Bar will play at 8 p.m. on Friday and Diana Chittester & The Summoners will give an acoustic performance at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Both events will be held in the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. The former costs is $10 while the latter is $5 in advance and $7 at the door.

Sporting events are light this weekend as both the football and volleyball team are playing away games. However, Ohio Hockey will play Kent State at 7:30 on Friday and again on Saturday at Bird Arena. Ohio Women’s Soccer also has a few matches this weekend: one against Western Michigan at 4 p.m. on Friday and another against Northern Illinois University at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

If You Go:

What: Watch Them Rot, Beyond the Abyss, Monocle, T.F.U.

Where: Casa Nueva, 4 W. State St.

When: 10 p.m., Friday

Admission: $3 cover

There will likely be shredding at Casa Nueva on Friday. The restaurant is hosting four bands that play in the styles of metal, punk and alternative rock. Athens metal outfit Watch Them Rot, West Virginia’s metal visitors Beyond the Abyss, Athens punk group T.F.U. and Dayton-based alternative rock band Monocle will take the stage Saturday in the Casa Cantina. There’s a $3 cover charge. The show is 18 years and older.

If You Go:

What: Mission Man (Hip-hop), Hong Kong Rubber Bands

Where: Donkey Coffee & Espresso, 17 W. Washington St.

When: 8 p.m.

Admission: $5 cover

Mission Man will take the stage at Donkey Coffee this Saturday night. Mission Man, a moniker taken by rapper Gary Milholland in 1996, performs upbeat hip hop songs such as “Extra” and “Love, Funk and Soul.” Milholland often plays those two songs in sequence. He said they make for a “good transition, are upbeat and try to make you smile.” Hong Kong Rubber Bands will open for Milholland.

“I loved rapping ever since I started,” he said. “Making an impact on people’s lives still gives me purpose.”

Mission Man’s shows are usually upbeat and dancey but he said he might incorporate some slower numbers this Saturday.

If You Go:

What: Athens Area Fiber Faire

Where: Athens Community Center, 701 E. State St.

When: 10 a.m., Saturday; 12 p.m., Sunday

Admission: Classes are $10 to $30

This Saturday and Sunday, the Athens Community Center will host the third Annual Fiber Faire. The faire presents an opportunity to learn about and purchase fiber-based products such as yarn, roving and other supplies. According to organizers, the event is held in the support of “fiber arts” including knitting, crocheting and weaving in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Some classes at the faire include “Yarn Voyage for Knitting and Design” and “The Versatile Mitered Square.” The cost classes range from $10 to $30 but the majority are $20.

A full schedule of classes, along with a list of vendors, can be found on the event’s website.