The Birthday Party this weekend. Something upbeat and cheery . . . not really. But apt for our current atmosphere? Perhaps.
No getting around it, The Birthday Party (founded by Nick Cave) were one of the darker ensembles to hit the Post-Punk era. The Australian ensemble would never be misconstrued as Sunshine Pop, and Nick Cave’s unrelentingly dark message wound up being one of the most influential aspects of that era for a lot of musicians. Despite the fact that they were, by all accounts, a commercial failure – it makes you wonder what constitutes a success. Is it high charting hits? Is it having your music exude broad appeal, straddling aspects of Underground with Mainstream? Or is it just not giving too much of a shit and preserving your integrity by singing about what’s on your mind – and making a lasting impression because of it?
I’ll go with the latter – Mainstream success is very often akin to the proverbial bubble in the bathtub; big and pretty and fun to look at, but disappears after a minute or two; completely forgotten about.
Love him or hate him (and I know a lot of people who do both), Nick Cave has maintained a large and loyal following and has been an influential figure in Independent/non-mainstream music for quite some time. You know, there are people who regularly speak the unvarnished truth – their words do not conjure comfort or giddy – but dammit, they stick in your head and get you thinking – that’s the essence of all art, when you get down to it – whether it’s written, painted, sung, photographed, portrayed – any expression that voices a condition is, more often than not, laced with discomfort – those are stepping stones to growth and change.
Maybe I decided to run this concert because it has become a parable for people to stop being complacent – your comfort zone may be your friend, but of the fair-weather kind. Sometimes you need the primal scream to get things moving. There is a lot of anger and discomfort in the world today – but it’s not the time to look away and pretend bliss. So maybe, just maybe, giving a listen to this concert, recorded in Groningen from June of 1982 may shake up the complacency a bit.
Or you can just yell at the TV and have another beer. Z’up to you.