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Does anyone else hate seeing laptops on stage? Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Shadowkast's Avatar
Does anyone else hate seeing laptops on stage?

I've been studying some of my favorite electronic acts' live shows to get ideas, and one thing is really grinding my gears. I cannot stand seeing people play laptops like it was an instrument. One very well known group I saw was just 4 dudes standing behind laptops. This is terribly lame in my opinion.

I have zero problem with anything ITB. Indeed, I've spent thousands on it. And I don't mind using computers to perform. But I despise seeing it. I would hide mine behind a barrier. I think it absolutely trashes the live music vibe. For all we know, you are browsing facebook while your pre-recorded sets play. Why should I pay to see that?

I come to see live music performed by people playing instruments. I want an experience. Robots, fire, dancing ladies and trippy visuals are a plus. Or whatever aesthetics go with the music and make the show exciting.

But damn, conceal that stupid laptop. You are hiding YOURSELF from the audience by staring at it while its flipped up.

Tablets are ok, as long as one isn't endlessly fiddlying with them. Set 'em by your stands to help you with keys. No issue with that.

Am I alone here?
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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Acid Mitch's Avatar
 

I have no problem with laptops on stage at all.
Is it really that different from being stuck behind a keyboard rig or drum kit?
There is nothing stopping laptop players having the Robots, fire, dancing ladies and trippy visual you want to see.

Last edited by Acid Mitch; 1 week ago at 05:58 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #3
It does take away a bit of the magic, doesn't it. But, depending on your setup, a necessary evil?
I mind it less when it's at the side, and the artist is actually playing a controller, or instrument. Both because it shows there's some interaction going on (live playing instead of pre-recorded) and it doesn't block the view from the dancefloor.
Also I noticed that a lot of "normal people" don't care.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Shadowkast's Avatar
I bought two different Keytars. Excessive? Perhaps. But at least the people can get close to me while I rock out with my Korg out. They will cherish this honor for the rest of their lives.

Nerds behind glowing Apple logos? I see those audience members bobbing their heads passively while they check their phones. That's not what I want at my show or anyone else's really.

Last edited by Shadowkast; 1 week ago at 03:35 PM.. Reason: I took out the word "babes." I'm tongue in cheek sometimes but I don't want folks to take offense.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
It’s not the laptop. It’s the crappy performer. If some dude is really sitting in front of a laptop and you can’t tell if they’re making music or checking Facebook, they have failed. Have you ever seen Robert Frip play? (King Crimson) He’s an amazing guitar player, but he sits on a stool in the dark. As a performer, he sucks, but it’s not the guitar, or the stool.

I’ve seen Thomas Dolby perform with a couple of Mac G5s. He was amazing. Even when the software crashed. He’s a great performer and a charismatic guy. I saw a dude do a really cool performance with Absynth and a laptop. I’ve also walked out on a dude that may as well been playing an mp3 and posting about it on Twitter. Didn’t help that his music kind of sucked. I’ll say the exact same thing about DJs too. I’ve rarely seen one that couldn’t be replaced by a totally automated setup with a robot that had a light up mouse head on it.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Yul
Gear Addict
 

Agreed. Why would anyone need to do anything sound related on a laptop while performing I can't understand. I would compromise with a laptop on the sidelines but not in front of you. Parameter change? Use a controller..
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Lol Kraftwerk. They are performing and playing keyboard on stage. In the 2000's Ronnie Size paid hommage to them with Die,Krust and Scorpio all on stage with a keyboard,a S760 and it's bulky CRT screen each finger drummingsl live on stage. That wasn't shocking back then it isn't shocking now. Most electronic live acts use a PC.

I prefer musicians performing live with software rather than those basically DJing with their collection of hardware
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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acreil's Avatar
 

No, I'd rather a performance focus on the music, not theatrics and entertainment.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Shadowkast's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by acreil View Post
No, I'd rather a performance focus on the music, not theatrics and entertainment.
I guess we just view it totally differently. That's cool, I respect that. I would just say that in my opinion, live music is about entertainment. And theatrics are awesome to me because even if the tunes aren't your thing, you can still have a great time.

I went to a GWAR show once. I wasn't big into their songs and couldn't understand a thing they sang. But I got green dragon blood and fake intestines from a presidential mannequin shot onto me in the crowd as a goblin on stage jumped around. I'll never forget that. Lots of props, kick ass players on stage, no laptops.I guess this is where I'm coming from, a more rock n roll perspective.

But even if one doesn't engage in this kind of performance, I can't see how staying behind computers is appealing. Seems so mechanical, like watching people work instead of playing tunes. I can "focus on the music" at home, with no bathroom lines and endless refreshments.

Old 1 week ago
  #10
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OurDarkness's Avatar
 

Old 1 week ago
  #11
Gear Addict
 

It is even lamer when used by DJs. . .


But yeah, some geek with a baseball cap hunched over a laptop is not cool and is not a "performance"

Most "live" electronica acts are a scam based on the public's ignorance of how the music is created. Pressing buttons and pretending to turn knobs isn't much of a performance compared to real musical instruments.... it has gotten worse since this started, with people seriously pretending to "perform" with lots of dramatic movements when turning knobs that do very little as the stuff is largely pre-sequenced.

It's the nature of the beast: if you want mechanical beats and quantised modulations, they have to be sequenced-- what sucks is people pretending this is a performance- it is not. It's an interactive presentation or at best remix of material you've prepared at home. There is no need to pretend that clicking on stuff in a computer, triggering sample loops in Ableton or turning knobs in a dramatic way makes it a performance... Commercialized EDM has made it more blatant than ever that this music scene is fake... plastic musicians for plastic audiences.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Gear Addict
 

What about a show where the performer brings a tricked out studio computer with maybe 3 linked monitors, which are mirrored by 3 giant screens above the stage? Maybe a 4th to show the performer and any other gear? Like a cross between Twitch and an electronic music concert.

Would that fly? Are there already shows like that?

SIDE EFFECT: Software's visual style would become more important than it is now.

Last edited by PuggaMahone; 1 week ago at 04:28 PM.. Reason: Bigger screens!
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Gear Addict
 

Unless you're already a a big name, club/ festival managers are not likely to be interested in changing their stage installations or even making enough space in the DJ booth for all your gear... hence the laptops.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Pindrive's Avatar
Evolution. Pet shop boys, Depeche mode, Krftwerk were all revolutionary with keyboards on stage, just another step. Next they'll all just have smart watches that they are staring into,
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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The only things that matter are the performance and the sound. Most touring acts have a significant financial interest in keeping their setup as compact and efficient as reasonable (at the very least, could be the difference between needing a trailer or not, what sort of vehicle they need to rent, etc), so I fully understand why a laptop could be a necessary evil.

I am not triggered by the performer’s equipment choice anymore than their choice of guitar or amp or lack thereof...that is not why I am at the concert. It is really none of my business how they get the show done. If it sounds good I love it.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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enossified's Avatar
What trashes the live music vibe for me is bad music. Laptops? Who gives a [email protected]#$% what gear someone uses.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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shreddoggie's Avatar
The issue with the laptop is that it is not a musical instrument per se. The keyboard does not have velocity - its not for playing notes or triggering samples, it is for typing letters and numbers. This results in a more passive type of interaction - you don't pound on it, you don't play 32nd note flourishes from the lowest 8ve to the top, you don't throw it down on the stage and set it on fire, you don't hump it while bending a note that is feeding back....

So - its not the laptop but rather what happens when you use one. This extends like an aura around the device - even when you have a separate control surface. Enough people get snared by this aura or it never occurs to them to break out of it. I think even in the case of Fripp there is a difference in that you can SEE what he is doing and he is actually doing it in realtime - the screen of the laptop blocks your hands - those same hands that are not availed of velocity or the usual arrangement of 8vs with black and white keys. There is an aspect of needing to know / see what someone is doing.

My central elemental critique of all music is this: I must give up my precious (never to be replaced) TIME in order to entertain your musings - you'd better make it worth while or its a bad deal for me. Where do you start? Where do you go? How do you finish? If I go someplace to observe you doing this, any indication that you actually AREN'T doing this poisons the well - why I am I wasting my precious time to condone your time-filling concept when you don't appear to be doing your part. Music can certainly be more of a passive presentation but I might as well just click on your DJ set on soundcloud.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Here for the gear
 

Sleaford Mods take laptop on stage thing to the extreme. Andrew Fearn barely touches it though, and doesn't hide behind it as much stand near it, drinking a pint.

Old 1 week ago
  #19
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4zet's Avatar
 

You are alone here.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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Muser's Avatar
I think if I saw someone with a laptop inside a fake laptop which was three times the size of a regular laptop, and the performer had a fishbowl on their head, I'd enjoy it more than I usually do. even though I couldn't easily explain why.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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shreddoggie's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by phutyle View Post
Sleaford Mods take the standing behind a laptop thing to the extreme.

Sleaford Mods are the raddest - Sleaford Mods rools OK.

The way they treat the laptop is so irreverent and satirical that it subverts the entire problem. "Yeah mate, I press the space bar and drink my pint..."
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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Shadowkast's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4zet View Post
You are alone here.
I think not, based on feedback given here. But it's still early in the thread, so maybe you're right and I'm the weird one. Wouldn't be the first time.

Otherwise, I find your comment highly 4zettable.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
4zet's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowkast View Post
I think not, based on feedback given here. But it's still early in the thread, so maybe you're right and I'm the weird one. Wouldn't be the first time.

Otherwise, I find your comment highly 4zettable.
Well you’re certainly not
And to be serious, it does not bother me what’s happening on stage if I like the music. But I can understand that other people like to see performers really performing.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shreddoggie View Post
The issue with the laptop is that it is not a musical instrument per se. The keyboard does not have velocity - its not for playing notes or triggering samples, it is for typing letters and numbers. This results in a more passive type of interaction - you don't pound on it, you don't play 32nd note flourishes from the lowest 8ve to the top, you don't throw it down on the stage and set it on fire, you don't hump it while bending a note that is feeding back....

So - its not the laptop but rather what happens when you use one. This extends like an aura around the device - even when you have a separate control surface. Enough people get snared by this aura or it never occurs to them to break out of it. I think even in the case of Fripp there is a difference in that you can SEE what he is doing and he is actually doing it in realtime - the screen of the laptop blocks your hands - those same hands that are not availed of velocity or the usual arrangement of 8vs with black and white keys. There is an aspect of needing to know / see what someone is doing.

My central elemental critique of all music is this: I must give up my precious (never to be replaced) TIME in order to entertain your musings - you'd better make it worth while or its a bad deal for me. Where do you start? Where do you go? How do you finish? If I go someplace to observe you doing this, any indication that you actually AREN'T doing this poisons the well - why I am I wasting my precious time to condone your time-filling concept when you don't appear to be doing your part. Music can certainly be more of a passive presentation but I might as well just click on your DJ set on soundcloud.
There’s a lot of revered (and less so) keyboards out there that lack velocity.


It is absolutely amusing to me that players of music largely defined by sequencing and non-humanizing (even performances that would be impossible or impractical for humans to play) could get upset by a computer on stage. If you can do it better, get out there and do it.
Old 1 week ago
  #25
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I remember going to see an act years ago, forget who but kind of Aphex Twin'ish, Squarepusher-type psycho crazy drum sounding stuff.

Get to the venue and it's just a guy sitting at a card table on stage with only a laptop, looking bored. Super disappointing show.

Years later, I went to see Girltalk, again only a laptop in front of him, but he was freaking out on stage, tons of people up there dancing with him, pouring beer on him. Amazing show!

It's all how you use it. I was thinking at one point of making some REALLY big DIY MIDI controllers like huge ship wheels and levers and cranks just to make the knob turning more involved looking for the audience, creating a big physical performance at the same time.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
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spaceman's Avatar
It depends. A laptop on stage doesn't bother me at all ( even Rock bands have laptops on stage ). As long as the performer is doing something else than just standing behind it clicking on a mouse : playing controllers ( APC, Push, etc..) , keyboards, drum pads, mixing boards, etc..
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Here for the gear
 

Perception is reality and a laptop is associated with too many other not so cool things. It should not matter but when I learn that an artist is completely ITB some of the magic disappears. Give me circuitry and wires.
Old 1 week ago
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

I find it odd that members of an electronic music production forum would get upset when they see laptops onstage.
Old 1 week ago
  #29
Gear Head
I agree with the OP, its very hard to get excited about (what can appear like) someone just pressing play in itunes

No problems with a laptop 'supporting' an acts performance, but if it's the only equipment on stage - often i'd be just as happy listening at home on decent speakers!

Yes, it's the quality of the musics that is most important.
But I want to see musicians play skillfully or with emotion, I want to see some passion and excitment from the vocalist!
Old 1 week ago
  #30
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In the early 2000's, I once watched a festival show, can't remember who it was, think one of the lesser-known Warp artists, he sat in front of ta laptop, chain smoking, one finger on the touchpad, never seemed to take his eyes off the screen... I hated it at the time but looking back on it I think it's awesome.

And Sleaford Mods are the definition of cool.
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