Wrockstock Wrecollections – Part Four

[Thank you for visiting The Wrock Snob and reading this article! I’d love for you to jump right into the reviewy goodness, but first there is some unfortunate business to take care of. It is not in my nature to tell you specifically what or what not to buy and who to support – I tell you what I thought about an album, and if my tastes seem to align with yours, you might want to heed my suggestions. However, I must take this time to personally exhort that you do not monetarily support the bands The Remus Lupins or Ministry of Magic. The full reasons are unsettling and possibly triggering, so please proceed with caution, but if you want the full details click here. Simply put, it has been revealed that certain member/s of both bands did destructive, upsetting, and highly problematic things. While I can see the value of reviewing art no matter what the artist did on a grand society-level scale, I cannot morally allow myself to condone the financial support of these monsters, nonetheless exhorting people to do so. Now it is entirely possible this copypasta’d retroactive warning was placed on a negative review, making this sidebar somewhat moot, but I still feel it necessary to make these matters clear. Again, for full details and rumination click here, otherwise, please enjoy the article.]

Part Four: MINISTRY OF MAGIC (again) – BUM BUM BUM!!!!

Hokay, so… Ministry of Magic.  Oy.  It’s funny, because I do consider myself a pretty big fan of MoM.  But we’ve had… a bit of a history.  And even when I was doing a mostly positive review of their set, it ended up coming out as at least half negative and half positive, if not more negative than that.  Part, if not all of that is because I chose to use funny pictures of Captain Picard of the Starship Enterprise.  Also, afterwards, I realized there were things I wanted to say that I didn’t have a chance to, not to mention all the points I already made that were not properly expanded upon.

OBSERVATION THE FIRST: THE FANGIRLS

So, remember MC Kreacher’s set, and how awesome it was?  If you weren’t there, I pity you, because it was awesome.  So, I noticed during the set a fair amount of girls who were just sort of staring at MC Kreacher and Buckbeak sullenly.  Now, I understand that different people like different types of music, but even that can’t account for one scene I saw – one person was starting to get into the wizrap, and was bobbing her head along and grooving, and then her friend nudged her with her elbow, and the groover went back into slouching, practically immobile. Seriously, was a basilisk going around that I wasn’t noticing?  I doubt that, because those fuckers are huge.

Now, when MoM got on stage, these same people who were completely disinterested, and trying to be disinterested FLIPPED OUT. I mean, it was almost scary.  So, right away, though I do like MoM, my enjoyment had already been soured by fangirls. Now, this isn’t MoM’s fault, but regardless, it was still getting in the way of me enjoying the music.  Fortunately, a friend came up and started dancing around like a lunatic, and their enthusiasm was so infectious I couldn’t help but be drawn into the energy and started dancing about as well to “Snape vs. Snape”.

OBSERVATION THE SECOND: THE SETLIST

Besides the weak encore of “I May Lose Everything”, they played only their really good songs.  In fact, I can only think of one song I really, really wish they had played: “A Phoenix Lament”, but that’s probably a good thing, because they would have had to follow it up with the vastly weaker song, “Epilogue”, so I guess it all balanced out.  And a few more songs from The Triwizard LP would have been nice – “The Hero” and “Meet Me On Diagon Alley” especially.  Still, they played “Lightning Struck Tower” and “Lovegood”, and even “Marauder’s Map”, which I was not expecting, which was great.  Even better, they didn’t play “Dance Time”, which isn’t a bad song by any means, but a song I’ve heard way too freakin’ often, and most of that is John Noe’s fault.  There were multiple times when I was telling my friends “I forgot how good this song was!” And then they’d say back “What?” And then I’d yell at my friends “I FORGOT HOW GOOD THIS SONG WAS!” and then they’d yell “WHAT?” and then I’d yell “NEVERMIND!”  The point is, they had a set that, besides the encore, ranged from overrated-but-still-quite-good classics to their absolute best work, which is some of the most fun and dancey music in all of wizard rock.

OBSERVATION THE THIRD: THE PERFORMANCES

So, you know how a friend of mine got me super excited and jazzed up? Well, that lasted for all of four or so minutes, when MoM just stopped singing.  And there were some very awkward moments when just the instrumentals were playing.  I thought at first that they were expecting the audience to sing the gaps, but had no idea how to do such a thing, because they stopped with no warning, and at totally random parts of the song.  It wasn’t until later that someone suggested they had just forgotten their lyrics, and that’s probably the most likely explanation.  Now, a lot of people, both mainstagers and those at the Willow forgot their lyrics, but I find it especially hard to forgive Ministry.

Firstly, they’re a mainstage band, and those are the bands that people fly thousands of miles to see, so it’s a lot easier to forgive a Willow band.  But secondly, and more importantly, it’s harder to forgive them than Brian Malfoy or Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls for one very crucial reason – THERE ARE FIVE OF THEM. AND ALL OF THEM ARE SINGING.  Seriously, if your entire performance consists of nothing but singing and dancing around on stage, no instruments or anything, then YOU BETTER DAMN WELL GET YOUR FUCKING LYRICS RIGHT.  I mean seriously!  THERE ARE FIVE OF YOU! How is it that there are moments in which not a single one of you know the lyrics to your own damn songs?

Now, on a slightly less angry note, the vocal performances were… better than “fine”, but not amazing.  Basically just what you expected from Minsitry of Magic.  However, they were brought down by two things: One, the absence of Voldemark, which was regrettable, but I’m not blaming anyone, I’m sure he had a good reason for it, but it was still a tad disappointing.  And two…

OBSERVATION THE FOURTH: THE FANGIRLS (AGAIN!)

Now this time, it’s not just the fangirls – it’s everyone, even me.  You see, my biggest single problem with Ministry of Magic’s performance was something that was entirely beyond their control – I COULDN’T BLOODY HEAR ANYTHING.  The MoM boys were singing their hearts out (when they remembered the words, that is), but so was every other single person in the room!  Even the very talented sound team couldn’t compete with 300 people singing at the top of their lungs.  And really, it’s to be expected – Ministry of Magic is very popular, and hey, what band didn’t have people singing along?  It’s not really anyone’s fault, it’s just a product of both MoM’s popularity, and the fact that wizard rock will probably never play in the sort of venue that, oh, I don’t know, Lady GaGa plays in – coliseums and arenas and the like, where you can have the sort of sound system that drowns out even the most ardent fans.

OBSERVATION THE FIFTH: THE NATURE OF THE BEAST

So, this is definitely going to be the longest observation, as well as the last one.  Before I launch into it, I want to make it absolutely clear that I enjoyed myself at MoM’s set – I spent 45-ish minutes dancing and singing along, so I couldn’t possibly qualify any experience that caused me to do that as “bad”, except possibly the imperius curse.  However, the fun music and high energy couldn’t hide the sinking feeling that the MoM boys didn’t actually need to be there.  Since there were many times where you could hardly hear the words, one couldn’t help but think that the effect would be roughly the same if they just played an MoM mix tape over the sound system while cardboard cutouts of the MoM crew shuffled and bobbed along like moving targets at a shooting gallery.

The other inescapable problem with MoM performing live has to do with the very nature of the music they perform –  in the immortal words of Kabuto The Python:

While you’re listening to techno,

Saying rap ain’t music

I ain’t buying it (why not?)

What kinda whack hater

Make a song, then at concerts they play it back later?

Now, I dearly love me some techno, but he’s got a point.  There’s something… off-putting about seeing five dudes dancing around and singing to music that, for all we know, could have been made by some dude in Sweden.  There’s just something thrilling about watching the music being made in front of your eyes that you don’t get with the type of music that MoM do – unless they do an acoustic set, which this wasn’t.  Furthermore, I’m not entirely sure why it couldn’t have been more of a live instrument performance.  I mean, at the very least they could have gotten Jarrod or Bryce to drum, or something.  I mean, look at Swish and Flick – they have a very electronic sound, yet Flick was busting out all sorts of shit all night long!  He even did electronic sounds live with that magical dealie of his.  And MC Kreacher augmented his beats with live guitar.  Why couldn’t MoM have had someone doing synths and shit on a midi keyboard, and a drummer, and some sort of guitarist? Was it just because all of those would involve getting other people from other bands, and there wouldn’t be enough room on stage, or what?

And there’s another reason why I’m harping on about this – improvisation.  You see, pretty much ever other band had the ability to add in bits, or have a solo here or an extra chorus there, and MoM didn’t.  They were pretty much forced to stick to the words and the songs the way they are on the album – so, in other words, they way we’ve already heard it a bajillion times already.  There’s no room for adding or changing or making this live version extra special in some way, and that’s the sort of fun, extra spark that was sorely missing from the set.

Once again, I’ve got to stress the fact that I enjoyed myself during Ministry of Magic’s set, and the band members danced and sang their hearts out, which is pretty much all we can ask of them.  Well, that and remembering their fucking lyrics.

Wrock Snob out.

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38 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lena
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 22:13:22

    This article sucks. You suck. Your blog sucks. Your mom sucks.

    Lena out.

    Reply

  2. Dee
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 22:51:16

    “One couldn’t help but think that the effect would be roughly the same if they just played an MoM mix tape over the sound system while cardboard cutouts of the MoM crew shuffled and bobbed along like moving targets and a shooting gallery.”

    THIS.

    Reply

  3. Christie
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 00:37:56

    I like this article. Except you didn’t mention the whole a-couple-of-them-looked-drunk thing. Which I feel like you might have mentioned at some point elsewhere, but then again it might have been someone else… but anyway, some of them looked drunk, which wouldn’t be an issue for me except for the lyric-forgetting. Combined, it just came off like they didn’t really care and were just basking in the “fame” and partying with their friends on stage. Which would be lame. But it was still fun, for sure. I danced around and sang the lyrics I could remember (ha). 🙂

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Nov 22, 2010 @ 07:30:01

      The thing is, I heard other people say that, but I just don’t remember anything to support that – they just seemed giddy and full of energy to me, so, you know, not gonna say something I don’t believe. But yeah, it was a comment I heard fairly often.

      Reply

    • Whompy
      Nov 22, 2010 @ 08:46:41

      I often get drunk before my set at major events, and I often forget lyrics as a result, and much of the time I’m most excited about being there and partying with my friends. I’m glad Tha Snob left out any mention of this in his article, because in my opinion it’s not really fair to make an example of one band on this issue.

      People forget that many of us are in our late 20s to early 30s and we (yes, even members of wizard rock’s only boy band) have been rock n’ rollers for a looooong time. Getting drunk and partying and getting sloppy are part of the charm of rock n’ roll. I suppose it’s easier to mask when you’ve got a drum set and loud guitars and a frontman/woman who sings like a rock n’ roller as opposed to a classically trained fancypants, but still — I don’t think it’s fair to deprive the Ministry boys their God-given right to combine music with partying.

      Reply

      • Christie
        Nov 22, 2010 @ 12:05:40

        Dude I totally get all that. But when you play (granted I haven’t actually seen you perform since… Wrockstock 3? Sorry. I keep trying to get to the tour shows but they’re always on school-time or when I’ve been scheduled to be out of town already. I’ll keep trying! Lol), you seem to be more “present” than they did. Like I said before, it’s one thing to get drunk and get up on stage and perform, but it’s another to look/act like you don’t actually care about the audience half the time. Maybe I was just annoyed at some other things that were happening during the set/just before so it colored by vision, but the impression I got was “eh whatever it doesn’t matter how poorly we perform, all the girlies will come screaming anyway.”

        Reply

        • Michelle
          Nov 24, 2010 @ 09:28:59

          Christie – the impression I got was “eh whatever it doesn’t matter how poorly we perform, all the girlies will come screaming anyway.”

          YES. This is exactly it. This is the vibe I get from them.

          Reply

        • Whompy
          Nov 24, 2010 @ 20:52:57

          Christie — Yeah. I’m not trying to defend MoM’s behavior at WS4 because I wasn’t there for their set. Just trying to encourage people (not you specifically, but people in general) to have a more forgiving attitude about alcohol, because frankly, in this particular community, a lot of negative attitudes about alcohol stem from youth and inexperience. Alcohol shouldn’t be abused or glorified, but it shouldn’t be demonized either. Adults who are in the middle of the woods and have no plans to drive are free to enjoy alcohol however they please. If it ends up making them look like assholes — well, then they should consider drinking less. Ha.

          I will say that I am always, always fully engaged with the audience when I perform because I prefer to be, and it makes it more enjoyable for fans and for myself. There are times when my brain is elsewhere, but I play 140 shows a year and sometimes I’m just in a weird mood. Nevertheless, it’s usually just me and a guitar, so I really have no choice but to be engaged with the audience. However, when I have played with full bands, in some ways it’s boosted my confidence and adrenaline in a way that’s actually made me less engaged with the fans and more in tune with myself and my bandmates. It’s hard to describe, but when you’re part of a performing unit, I think it’s easier to forget that there are people in front of you. So maybe that’s what’s happening with MoM. I dunno.

          Reply

          • Christie
            Nov 24, 2010 @ 22:12:34

            Word. And people should absolutely be less uptight about alcohol, and all sorts of things.

            Just make the audience feel like there’s a reason they bothered coming to the show and all’s well!

            Reply

  4. Sarah
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 07:55:25

    Interestingly, they performed with live instruments last year and people complained it wasn’t what they expected from the ministry.

    And no VoldeMark? He makes the ministry in the performances i’ve been to so that would be disappointing.

    Reply

    • Dee
      Nov 22, 2010 @ 09:12:21

      I agree that VoldeMark definitely makes the performance, however I’m sure that if he could have been there he would have been there.

      Reply

      • Sarah
        Nov 22, 2010 @ 20:23:30

        Oh yeah, I wasn’t trying to blame him I was just saying that without Mark MoM would be a very different thing

        Reply

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  6. Mers
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 15:37:03

    Don’t forget the on-stage groupies/friends/random-people-on-stage-who-kept-stealing-the-mikes-from-the-MoM-boys. I felt so not involved in the experience. When Jarrod got on-stage I felt so involved in the performance because he was reaching out (literally) to the crowd. With MoM I felt like I was watching the popular kids have fun while I shuffled awkwardly around with the non-cool people.

    Reply

    • Christie
      Nov 22, 2010 @ 20:00:08

      WORD.

      Reply

    • Sarah
      Nov 22, 2010 @ 20:25:33

      This has always been my experience with MoM shows. I always feel like the audience, and the fact that they are doing a show is secondary, or maybe even further down the list of priorities.

      Reply

    • Richard
      Nov 22, 2010 @ 20:45:30

      QFT. This is one thing about MoM that I’ve felt that I have never, EVER felt with any other act and I’ve seen lots of shows.

      Reply

    • Arodhwen
      Nov 22, 2010 @ 23:58:40

      I like the way you put it.

      Also, it kind of felt like going to karaoke night, except people could actually sing. And sign-ups weren’t open. So… Popular kids having fun and the rest of us were just witnessing it.

      However, Snobtown (I like it. Can we keep it?), there was SOME variation. Mostly during the speaky parts. (There may have been more or less grace-note-things going on in the sing-y parts.) I think you said in your previous post that they changed up the speaky because they forgot things… I just got the impression they weren’t trying to do what Voldemark does and were therefore goofing off like “Look at me! I’m Voldemark! I speak things!”

      At least they’re not giving the lead singer an unexplained shard of glass and pretending like they never cut the scene where Sirius gave the two-way mirror- I mean… I’m talking about wrock and nothing else.

      Reply

    • Samantha
      Nov 23, 2010 @ 22:22:36

      Dear lord, you have hit that nail right on its God damn head. I can’t even tell you how many times I have tried to explain how much people DON’T like this. I personally can’t stand when I’m trying to watch a band, and can’t because of all the non-band members on stage. I am going to bed feeling VERY supported by other people.

      Reply

  7. MaryBeth
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 21:28:04

    I love what you said about improvisation. That is a stellar observation. Live music, for me, is about experiencing the songs from the horse’s mouth(s), observing the personal connection the artist is making with his song. It is about exploring the connection felt with the songs in a more “in the moment” way. I make it a priority to connect with what I am doing onstage and I expect that from any artist I pay t0 see live and I think this in the moment concept is possible in every style.

    I don’t think singing with tracks is a bad thing (although I think MoM is talented enough to replicate pieces of their electronic feel live) for certain styles, effects, etc. and I think it is MORE reason to be able to play with and explore live presence, in the moment connection and lyrical variation. Singing with a track doesn’t allow song structure variation but DOES open a door for other kinds of variation.

    What is interesting is that I have ONLY ever seen MoM do an acoustic set and it was very connected and honest. I have heard their recordings of the dance versions of stuff (solid epic pop hell yeah), which are stellar too and certainly what they are known for. If I ever saw them again, it’d be cool if they combined their clear talents in both mediums for a varied set, create a little texture.

    I like your articles, Snobtown (nicknamed), you make me go to Thinktank State. Love, MaryBeth.

    Reply

  8. Stace
    Nov 23, 2010 @ 11:27:11

    I have absolutely no respect for you. You are a fucking asshole, and it is as simple as that.

    Regards,
    Stace.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Nov 23, 2010 @ 19:00:35

      Well, that was simple, I’ll give you that. Care to give, you know, an explanation as well? Just wondering. Also, I must assure you that I am definitely NOT a fucking asshole. A regular asshole, yes, but let’s just say the pool of cute wizards/witches is not too huge out where I live…

      Reply

    • Dee
      Nov 23, 2010 @ 20:58:53

      Is this a bot? Aren’t spambots usually nice?

      Reply

  9. Michelle
    Nov 24, 2010 @ 06:57:51

    I should probably keep my mouth shut about this, but I just can’t.

    I’m kind of over MoM. And for anyone who knows me, who knows that they are the band that got me into wizard rock, who knows that they were by far my favorite for a long time, this is kind of a huge deal.

    But they just seem like they don’t really care anymore…if they ever did at all. Like they’re just giving the very minimal amount of effort possible. And their crazy-ass fangirls act like they’re the gods of wizard rock or something.

    Plus they give off this vibe of “We’re MoM and we’re awesome and we’re better than you.” and that’s bullshit.

    Mers hit it on the head with the comment about the popular kids and whatnot. That’s so true. That is how it felt for me, which is why I skipped their WS set this year. And that’s sad to me, because they were my favorite set from the first WS. To have come this far, and in such a negative direction, really upsets me.

    Reply

    • Arodhwen
      Nov 24, 2010 @ 11:55:26

      I hate to agree, but I kind of do. They’re all so talented, but it’s like they rush through everything. I like to give them the benefit of the doubt and guess that perhaps all of the fangirls who terrify us sort terrify them in a way. If you’re MoM, and you’re one of the most popular wrock bands on the scene (yeah, I called it a scene) you’ve got to feel a TON of pressure to release new stuff.

      It’s not that EVERYTHING they’ve released is crap. It’s that they’re pulling songs from anywhere they can, throwing them together with just enough effort for it to pass as an album. Personally, I’d be willing to wait two or three years if it meant they’d release an album entirely comprised of songs which are “Lightning Struck Tower” or “Ascendio” kind of quality. (I could make a list, but I won’t. Those are just the first to spring to mind.)

      Reply

      • Michelle
        Nov 24, 2010 @ 12:29:53

        Actually, I wasn’t even referring to the albums they’ve released but more so their live performances and attitudes. I’ve liked all their albums, even if every song hasn’t been perfect.

        Reply

  10. J
    Nov 24, 2010 @ 22:57:50

    You guys totally just said everything I have been thinking for months now. I get that they want to party with their friends, but why does it have to be on stage and soooo in everybody’s face. It’s like…I flew hundreds of miles to see Ministry perform, but instead I get Ministry plus their girlfriends plus their friends of girlfriends plus random other people who can’t sing but grab the mic and do so anyway. I have never felt more distant and disconnected from a band than I have at MoM shows. I just feel like I’m watching a bunch of people (not even the band, for crying out loud!) on stage basking in how cool they are.

    You wouldn’t go to any other concert and have the band be like “This a new song, and joining me on stage are my best friends! And our drummer’s mom! And the janitor!” I know this community is different from the “real world” for lack of a better term, and everybody is all bffs and it’s cool to just throw norms out the window and have everyone up on stage singing away, but I’m just not feeling it anymore. It’s not a feeling of jealousy or anything, just one of apathy.

    Reply

    • Shannon
      Nov 25, 2010 @ 21:03:59

      I was there too. And I dare you to tell me one time when ‘random other people’ (and I’m not even sure who you’re referring to in the first place…) grabbed the mic and sang into it. Give me one concrete example. Just one.

      Go ahead. I’m waiting.

      Reply

      • Mers
        Nov 26, 2010 @ 00:26:56

        I would give names, but I don’t want to be nasty. But this did happen. Two band members mikes were taken at one point by “friends” who came on stage during a song. They kind of played it off and got their mikes back later, but it shouldn’t have happened.

        Reply

      • Gigi
        Nov 26, 2010 @ 01:01:05

        I’ll bet $20 that “Shannon” = Aaron Nordyke’s girlfriend. They call each other Boone & Shannon because they love Lost. She was one of the worst stage crashers. Hey girl, start your own band if you want to be famous. You’re the worst fangirl of all.

        Reply

        • Shannon
          Nov 26, 2010 @ 08:13:59

          You owe me $20 dollars then.

          Reply

        • wrocksnob
          Nov 26, 2010 @ 17:49:26

          Two things: First, I’m sure there is more than one person in wizard rock named Shannon. Secondly, Boone and Shannon? Really? The two least likeable characters in the entire show? The ones with the creepy incestual relationship? WHY?!?! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?

          Reply

        • Richard
          Dec 01, 2010 @ 14:08:06

          Having met all of the members of MoM at one time or another, I think Aaron Nordyke is a really rad guy. Just my 2 cents.

          Reply

  11. Flick
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 20:07:35

    “I mean, look at Swish and Flick – they have a very electronic sound, yet Flick was busting out all sorts of shit all night long! He even did electronic sounds live with that magical dealie of his. ”

    THIS!

    My 4 year old thoroughly enjoyed MoM. I was going to bring her back to the lodge to go to sleep half-way through their set, then they started Luna and she wanted to stay so we watched the rest of the “show.” I think it is safe to say that MoM was her first concert. Sure she’s seen other bands, even her parents perform, but MoM was the first band that she actually wanted to see. She knew many of their songs so when they started playing she got very excited and wanted to watch them. She was not disappointed.

    Reply

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