Thomas Venker

“That’s not for me anymore”,

Fewer, better, harder, stronger

Well, it’s a few days since I returned from Primavera Festival 2015, and as always after such an intense dip into the musical maelstrom, I’ve been relistening to a lot of the artists I saw down on the Spanish coast. One question that immediately came to mind, why were the great DJ sets so short?
True all the festivals on a par with PrimaveraSound are examples of the massive musical buffet: so many stages, populated by several hundred artists. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against too much choice.

But for this reason of eclectic lineup making so often single DJ sets are limited to 60 or maximum 90 minutes. It’s not because this is their preferred set length, that’s for sure. That’s something like 10 to 15 records per set – hardly enough for a nice sweeping set where there’s time enough to do something interesting. Even the more conventional, just-a-quck-crossfade-me DJs struggle with such a short set, never mind the maniacs, or the truly bold and wayward ones. And aren’t those more visionary mad spinners the ones who create the kind of crazy musical journeys we’ve gone all the way to a festival for in the first place?

It’s just a shame when you’ve got top-notch DJs like Andrew Weatherhall, John Talabot or Christian S suddenly downing tools just as things are getting interesting, when the crowd’s keyed up to be lead by them through so much more of the night… Is this too much to ask for when there are so many stages (and surely also cheaper for the festival organizers? Just sayin’…)

On fleeting memories of youth

At this point the editor’s column would normally be done, were it not for something that caught my eye in a giveaway edition of Die Welt newspaper at the gym today. The writer and novellist Burkhard Spinnen was asking himself whether it was dangerous to go and review a Fleetwood Mac gig in Cologne in case it replaced his youthful memories of them from decades ago.

The piece was kind of sad as it revealed the author prepared to compartmentalise his life into the bits where he was still „emotionally open to music“ and the ones he is relegated to a „critical consumer“. The piece paints him as a person keen to keep the old and loved boxed away, untouched – which includes an art nouveau painting of Stevie Nicks as she was in her floaty-dressed younger days.
Wow. So dull, so bourgeois! Where should we even begin?

Surely the perception of art is a lifelong business? One we hone all the time, mixing our raw emotional responses with the intervention of our critical eyes and ears. How could you just decide to cut yourself of from the essence of life? Isn’t that granting ageing a little too much power?
Nevermind our relationship to pop music, this is about all of it, all the arts. Surely we should never accept these comfortable little boundaries, surely we should go on soaking it all up, never saying “that’s not for me anymore”, finding in each experience the full capability of life? Well, I guess for this editor, you know the score!



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