Music Crit, Not Scenester Shit | Letters | Chicago Reader

Music Crit, Not Scenester Shit 

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I was interested to see that Liz Armstrong made a recent appearance on the music page, previewing Bonde do Role at the Empty Bottle [The Treatment, September 21]. My interest soon turned to dismay. The write-up got off to an inauspicious start, warning against "the haters" of the Brazilian group. I'm not sure whether Liz is unaware or proud of the fact that the term "haters" was coined by terminally stupid gangsta rappers in order to defend their music against critics without actually, well, defending it. Because they can't, because they don't know how to, get it? I didn't know the Reader is now borrowing from the Vibe Guide to Music Criticism. Liz then goes on to simply make up quasi-hip but ultimately nonsensical and stupidly flippant categories to describe the band's music ("dirty-butt metal"? "wacky-pants electro"?), which won't score many points with actual music fans, though it may earn Liz a little more of what she seems to covet most, namely scenester cred. (Actually, I have no idea whether it will or won't--I read the Reader's reviews, and particularly the Treatment, to get the opinions of real music critics on upcoming shows, not to be told I'm "missing the point" if I think a sucky band sucks. Liz's real audience, on the other hand, may give her the "hell yeah" that is apparently her greatest source of satisfaction.) Though Armstrong does manage to squeeze in a few terms that are actually helpfully descriptive, she pretty much seals the deal as to her inability to do anything but write-ups of drunken loft parties with this line: "Do you wanna sit there and talk about your music, or do you wanna dance?" Uh, Liz, as much as you may pretend to hate the idea, "talking about . . . music" is exactly what you're at least trying to do here, and it's what actual music critics do for a living. I know you spend a lot of time hanging out with the lowest-common-denominator for your socialite gig, but pandering to the "f'd-against-a-wall" types in a music column when your actual audience--and I know I'm being presumptuous here--is more interested in hearing about musical substance is, well, missing the point.

Evan White

Oak Park

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