As Sun Kil Moon, Mark Kozelek makes folk music that’s more often than not just him playing an acoustic guitar. It can be really heartfelt stuff, with rich lyrical content that results in records like Benji, which is one of 2014’s finest so far. But it also doesn’t inherently lend itself well to live performances. Unless you’re in a seated venue, where the crowd can just relax and soak in the performance, chances are if people are standing while you’re quietly strumming they’re going to become impatient and bored after awhile. So it comes as little surprise to me that Kozelek was playing a show at Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh over the weekend as part of the Hopscotch Music Festival, and things suddenly took a turn for the sour. People started to talk through much of his set, and after awhile he became a bit irate, telling the crowd to “shut the fuck up” and calling them “fucking hillbillies” before threatening to walk off mid-set. Eventually he got past it and finished the show, but it was reportedly a tense few minutes and certainly didn’t earn him more respect from fans. My thoughts on the matter are twofold. First of all, if you paid money to go and see an artist that you like perform, why would you spend most of your time talking with friends or staring at your phone? That seems like a waste. I’ve been to plenty of shows both quiet and loud where people around me talk through most of the set, and more often than not it gets me angry the performer isn’t being shown more respect – especially if the show happens to be great. On the other hand, musicians and performers owe it to their fans to be entertaining and engage them with their art. If you’re paying $20 to see somebody play an acoustic guitar for 90 minutes, you don’t want to be put to sleep. If what you’re seeing just isn’t connecting with you, at least you’re there with friends to talk to. My main point is this: when you go to a live show, there’s an unwritten social contract that you enter into with the artist. If you’re respectful and pay attention, they will let you into their worlds for a bit and play songs you love. Should one half of that equation not live up to their end of the bargain, all bets are off. Artists can turn on a crowd, and a crowd can turn on an artist. It’s not something anybody wants or wishes would happen, but when it does you hope that cooler heads prevail. In spite of everything, Kozelek finished his set over the weekend. I doubt the crowd really did shut the fuck up as he requested, but he powered through anyways. Sometimes you need to bite your tongue and take the higher road in spite of your own inclinations. If he would have put down his guitar and walked off, now THAT would have been a story. Okay, let’s get to today’s Pick Your Poison. There’s some strong tracks in this week-starting set that come from Katalina Kicks, Loopee, Mastodon (ft. Gibby Haynes), Monogold, Shelter Point and A Shoreline Dream. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Cult of Youth, Dark Blue, Dawit Eklund, Ex Cops (ft. Ariel Pink), Sir Sly (covering Arcade Fire) and Springtime Carnivore.
The Wans – I Can’t Fix You
Cult of Youth – Empty Faction
Dark Blue – Hanging from the Chandelier
Dawit Eklund – Psycho Animus
Ex Cops – Tragically Alright (ft. Ariel Pink)
Sir Sly – Afterlife (Arcade Fire cover)
Springtime Carnivore – Sun Went Black