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The 10 Music Commandments: Guidelines for a Great 2015 

Tuesday, Dec 30 2014
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From Sarah Slocum to Iggy Azalea, 2014 was, among other things, the year of chronic foot-in-mouth disease. Blame the immediacy of the internet, or call it the slow decline of American society as we know it — a lot people behaved badly this year in very public forums.

Unfortunately, while we will continue to hate-follow Iggy Azalea on Twitter, we don't have much control over her, or anyone's, actions. What can we do? We can resolve not to be shitty in the coming year. And we don't mean going to the gym more, though, yeah, that too. But there's another arena in which self-discipline, good manners, and just a pinch of human decency can add up to something much more — with no initiation fee whatsoever, to boot. It's the music scene. It's your music scene. And it's up to you to make it awesome in 2015. Here are our 10 Music Commandments for the new year.

Thou shalt arrive at the party before the headlining DJ goes on and stay until after he or she is done.

If there's one thing San Francisco doesn't have, it's a shortage of DJs. But many of our local DJs, who usually support traveling headliners with opening or closing sets, are oftentimes supremely talented — sometimes better than the headliner. Show up early and stay late to check out what makes our local DJs special.

Thou shalt put thy goddamn phone down.

Hey you, dude in the second row at the Independent who is dutifully recording the entire show on his cell phone: Yes, we can see that you sprung for a really expensive one. What we can't see is the show, and that makes you, sir, The Worst. You are spawning new startups, like Yondr, which provides cases to venues that disable phones, so a club can create a mandatory phone-free environment if management wants to. This is like putting vinegar on a child's thumb to make him stop sucking it. Don't make this necessary. Be a grownup. Additionally, you will never, ever watch that video.

Thou shalt not refer to a venue, artist, or record as a "concept."

Is the thing you're trying to talk about a place where people go to listen to music, dance, and maybe drink beverages and eat food? That's not a concept. It's a venue. Or a club. Or a bar. Are you a person or people who record music and/or perform it live? Congratulations, you're a band or an artist, making records or albums or songs. We have perfectly good, accurate nouns for all of these things already. Structuralism is a concept. Manifest destiny is a concept. Cut it out.

Relatedly: Thou shalt stop suggesting thy new app will "revolutionize" the concert-going experience.

If we had a nickel for every press release we've gotten this year full of breathless copy about a new way to get tickets, or tell your friends which shows you're going to, or buy drinks once you're at the show, or generally introduce a new thing to do on your phone that absolutely no one was clamoring for — we'd have enough money for at least a pair of concert tickets. To a concert we would then attend, and even meet up with friends at, probably while drinking drinks, all without the help of an app. (If anyone invents an app that cuts through service fees and makes a larger cut of the ticket price go directly to the musicians you're seeing, let us know.)

Thou shalt keep the party going past 2 a.m.

We know, this is a tall order, because these things are often venue- and permit-restricted. So this one goes out to the venue owners: Do whatever you can to secure a post-2 a.m. license. Dancefloors take on an entirely different and more exciting character past 2 a.m., and those involved (partygoers, venue owners, DJs, promoters) should do their part to keep the party alive past last call.

Thou shalt let dead people remain dead.

Less than a year after the Billboard Music Awards gave everyone nightmares with a Michael Jackson hologram, we have word that a hologram Liberace is due to tour the world next year, beginning with a "performance" in Las Vegas, date TBA, begging the question — who on earth asked for this? What, pray tell, is your target audience? Anyway: The folks behind the project, Hologram USA, are some of the same who brought you Hologram Tupac at Coachella in 2012, and they promise to roll out a "slate of celebrity resurrection projects" over the next 30 days. Look, it is tragic when our favorite musicians die, even more so when they die young. That does not give us the go-ahead to just make new versions of them, like we're a new producer signing on for Toy Story 12. Please stop. For one thing, if we ever learn how to actually reanimate people, Tupac and MJ are gonna be pissed. (We can't really decide about Liberace.)

Thou shalt not harass anyone at the club.

It's a sad reality that this must be said, but it's a real problem: Clubs play host to a staggeringly high number of incidences of harassment, mostly in the form of unwanted touching or verbal sexual harassment. If you ever experience unwelcome touching, verbal harassment, or unwelcome or improper behavior, let the party host or venue know. And to the straight guys who come to the club to meet women, take it from us — there's nothing more attractive to a single lady at a party than a guy who's confidently dancing by himself and having a great time. Do your own thing, have fun doing it, and other people will notice.

Thou shalt pay (at least a little something) for thy music.

If nothing else, 2014 was the year of the shrill internet debate about How To Fix the Music Industry. Funny how no one's figured it out yet, huh? The only thing we can say for sure: If you are listening to music that you have not paid for in the slightest, the artist who created that music is likely getting jacked. If you want to participate in the ongoing debate about streaming music services and royalty rates and crowdfunding and (cough) how much bands that crowdfund should and shouldn't spend in order to break even on tour — or the parallel conversation about How to Save the Music Scene in S.F. — the absolute minimum is throwing your friendly neighborhood musicians a few dollars. Buy their actual records. Buy their merch. At the very least, get yourself a premium membership for that unlimited, every-song-you-can-possibly-think-of-on-demand service you keep so handily on your phone. And now's when we acknowledge (in a whisper) that we're siding with Taylor Swift.

Thou shalt loseth thy shit at the club.

Dance parties are critically important liminal spaces that operate outside the boundaries of regular society. The experience of subsuming one's identity into a greater mass as the dancefloor makes one out of many is the pinnacle of club culture, and you should do whatever it takes to get yourself there. We're not encouraging the use of illegal substances, and we're especially not encouraging "getting sloppy," to use the vernacular, but we are encouraging all partygoers to limit their inhibitions by any means necessary, and to check their egos at the door. Show up with a smile on your face, lose yourself on the dancefloor, and go home coated in sweat. There's simply no other way to do it.

Thou shalt not wear Native American headdresses to music festivals.

No. Just don't. Everyone hates you. We don't care how good it looks with your weird fringey halter top thing that is totally not a real shirt. Say it with us: Cultural appropriation ain't cute.


About The Authors

Emma Silvers

Emma Silvers is SF Weekly's former Music Editor.

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