How To Spot A Bogus Concert Review in 3 Easy Steps
As we plow ahead in our never ending quest to separate the wheat from the chaff here, we're sometimes vexed by what we call the "bogus concert review".
First, you might ask is, why in the world would someone write a review of a concert that they didn't even attend in the first place? Well, we might live a thousand years and still not know what that means.
Step #1 - The Stupid Review: A review that has no basis in fact and reveals cluelessness. These are very easy to identify.
From Neil Young concert reviews of Seattle, Washington, July 20, 2010 Anonymous said:
went to the concert in Seattle last night.. sorry but it was a snoozer...his songs were short and he did not play the more famous songs, (might not have the rights) very slow concert.. had a hard time staying awake.. and his opening act all the songs sounded the same. Where as he plays a mean guitar, it was stil boring.... we walked out disapointed. He still has the voice, but as he waled.. the concert was just as slow.. not worth the 86.00.. where can I get a refund???
First, always consider the source. Here, it's Anonymous. Second, "might not have the rights'? Huh? That's a dead giveaway of a bogus review as any casual Neil fan knows about Neil's unrelenting attitude towards the licensing of his work. Third, "slow"? Huh? A slow Neil concert? Whatever that means. Has anyone been to a fast Neil concert? Fourth, asking for a refund. Seriously. I think we've all been to movies and sports events that were lame. How many times did we ask for a refund? If you go to a baseball game and the score is 1-0 and there's one hit and tons of errors, do you ask for a refund because it was bad boring game?
Step #2 - The Belligerent Righteous Review: A review that has an extreme attitude and bias. Fails to mention anything positive whatsoever.
From Neil Young concert reviews of Portland, Oregon, July 19, 2010, Anonymous said:
Hate to dissappoint all you die hard NY fans but I thought he sucked last night. One electric guitar and Niel singing just didn't cut it in my book. Acoustic is ok by yourself but this sounded bad! FYI I first saw Niel with Buffalo Springfield in 67 and have been a loyal fan since.
First, use of the word "suck", probably one of the most immature and anti-intellectual phrases of all time to bring someone down. Second, The review reeks of a condescending attitude towards fellow fans. Third, a fan since the Buffalo Springfield in 67? Yeah, right. We've pointed this out before that no one who has seriously followed Neil's career for decades would ever have this experience or write something like this. The stating of one's bona fides upfront is a technique to establish credibility but often fails miserably and backfires as it exposes the sheer lack of knowledge. Fourth, mis-spelling Neil's name. Duh.
Step #3 - The Entitlement Review: The reviewer spent money and therefore is entitled for the concert to be personally tailored to their preferences.
From Neil Young concert reviews of Oakland, CA, July 11, 2010, Anonymous said:
I saw the first show in Oakland on 7/11 and was disappointed. Dunno why but it was the first time I have ever seen Neil in concert - although have long enjoyed his music - and forked out $200 for each ticket (plus a ridiculous $25 each in "service fees"). Neil played for less than 90 minutes, and barely acknowledged the audience all night. He did not play most of his biggest hits - Heart of Gold, Old Man, Out on the Weekend, etc. instead opting for some obscure stuff. My wife had to ask me what songs they were. Also only two songs on the piano and one on the organ. On the positive side, Neil was mostly brilliant in the songs he chose and the time he played - but I was expecting more.
First, the statements of exact $'s spent and time played as if there were a relationship stated the ticket. Second, again totally bogus facts: "He did not play most of his biggest hits - Heart of Gold, Old Man, Out on the Weekend, etc. instead opting for some obscure stuff." Excuse us? Sample setlist: My My, Hey Hey, Tell Me Why, Helpless, Down By The River, Ohio, After The Gold Rush, I Believe In You, Cortez The Killer, Cinnamon Girl. Hello? That's not classic?
So, you too can play spot the bogus concert review.
We take a tremendous amount of flack whenever we delete comments here on Thrasher's Wheat. And we make no apologies for removing obvious false and misleading information. Help us out by taking on some of these bogus reviewers and call them out.
We're working. We're separating the wheat from the chaff.
UPDATE: "Some Signs that your Concert Review Might Be Flawed" (upon which we will unleash a rhetorical chainsaw.)
CONCERT REVIEW FLAW 1: Citing random agreement with your point as proof that your point is right.
I think a lot of us have seen this. It usually pops up during debates about Neil's music. It's almost exclusively used to highlight negatives of said songs/concerts, and it usually takes the following form:
Link to biased source that is randomly vague or off-topic.
CONCERT REVIEW FLAW 2: You're a purity troll / anti-Neil-bot / paid shill for something / part of "the usual suspects"
This is an attack on a commenter's credibility and motives for posting comments. The objective is to make people so suspicious of someone that they will forever doubt their words, regardless of validity.
"The grass is green" my ass, Paid Shill! We're not stupid, everyone knows you're in the pocket of Big Crayola!
Sometimes it really is that stupid.
Another objective to this is to eventually drive the target away, or at least get them to stop posting things you can't refute with a calm, logical set of facts and arguments.
Why this is a flaw:
If their argument is so bad, why can't you just attack that instead of the commenter/blogger?
CONCERT REVIEW FLAW 3: This topic has been done to death / I'm tired of this topic
We all have our opinions. Oftentimes, they overlap and someone scoops us. Instead of trying to do IP reverse look-ups so you can find the bastard who ruined your day, you can either move on or cover the topic anyway, trying to add some fresh insight or a new perspective.
If the topic is a particularly popular one, you can bet your ass and six of your goats that someone will come in only to take a dump on everyone in there, proclaiming the topic "played out" and it's "old news" and how they're "tired of reading about a topic they're under no obligation to read about."
Then someone points out that they didn't have to click on the damn blog in the first place, which is somehow a MORTAL INSULT that must be PAID in BLOOD or COVERED in MUSTARD.
This tactic is basically used to dismiss the entire blog because clearly, if 35 people have written about a subject, any and all aspects of said subject have been covered and there's no need to look any further. The user of this tactic might feel that he's performing an important service by keeping the blog from getting cluttered, but in reality they're just being a huge douchebag.
This is often used by a group of people who feel they have been losing some arguments of late, so they want to try and squash the topic itself, because then they'll win the internet or something, I really don't know what their goal is.
Why this is a flaw:
You don't have to read the blog. You really don't.
CONCERT REVIEW FLAW 4: us vs. them mentality / false dichotomy / you either agree with me and are a true Neil fan, or you disagree and you're a Neil sycophant.
This is the biggest one. Most common, most annoying, and most dividing, and it depends heavily on people reading it not realizing that there can very well be more than two sides to every argument (for example, just because you don't think I'm the sexiest user on this site doesn't make you blind; you could just have extremely poor taste).
There have been a lot of well-written pleas for peace, many intelligent musings on the differing factions and what they want. We need some more of those comments, the ones calling for a unifying of the factions and working together to achieve our goals.
If this argument was personified into a physical being, it would hide under children's beds and steal their dreams. It's so mind-numbingly polarizing that there's almost no point in contributing if you don't agree with the premise, since the commenter already proclaimed you to be a Neil sycophant.
It attempts to close off any debate, instead insisting that the author has God Almighty on his side and any dissenters will be cast into the abyss.
It seems as though there are two types of people who use this:
People who are so myopically dedicated to their cause that they take any disagreement as a personal attack, and thus craft their arguments to attack first;
People who doubt that their argument can win on merit alone and so attempt to make people defend their true Neil fan bonafides instead of dealing with the aspects of the argument itself (also known as the "How long have you been beating your wife" technique).
So, can we all agree that the above flaws are designed to destroy all that is good and just about the Neil community, and that the excessive use of them are creating massive rifts between us?
These smear attacks on Neil are often so trite, so formulaic and predictable, so inconsequential and substance-free, so 20th century, so intellectually incoherent that it's basically impossible to get yourself to care enough even to respond ("Canadian, pot smoking, liberal-commie hippie"). The only response we could really muster is a sense of vindication knowing that what we are doing is the right thing if it provokes that kind of reaction from those kinds of Neil-bashers.
But this is how trite, ad hominem, pseudo-centrist smears are always conducted: with adolescent name-calling ("Neil sucks") used as a crutch to avoid substantive discussion -- playground insults ironically employed by those pompously proclaiming themselves to be the only Serious Music Fans in the room.
The Anonymous ones draw attention to themselves by claiming to be an objective, non-ideological analyst of music, but it always takes the form -- as it has here -- of gushing sycophantic praise for the Neil fans, scoffing at criticisms voiced, and disparaging critics as unhinged ideologues.
One has to be deeply ignorant, deeply dishonest or consumed with petulant self-victimization and anti-neil young bigotry to pretend they don't exist.
To ask the question is to answer it, and by itself gives the lie to X's typically anti-Neil need to portray his own favorite music group as the profoundly oppressed band at the hands of the small, marginalized, persecuted group which actually has no audience (it's so unfair how Neil fans always get their way in the discussion group). But whatever else is true, there ought to be a minimum standard of factual accuracy required for these comments. The notion that censorship is exercised only on behalf of anti-Neil fans falls far short of that standard.
There are other attributes of establishment blogs still worth examining -- their faithful devotion to majority critical claims, their endless and reckless use of anonymous sources, the tawdry propaganda pompously and condescendingly justified as provocative objectivity, the suffocatingly narrow viewpoints which are aired -- but the sheer childishness and stunted, numbing vapidity are the overarching characteristics.
Anonymous commenters love to deride 'bloggers' who write anonymously, but at least even anonymous bloggers create pseudonyms that enable ongoing accountability; moreover, many of us anonymous bloggers are just ordinary music fans, with no power, and who are too vulnerable to write under our real names. But Anonymous commenters who will spew insults and criticisms only while protected from accountability are just frightened and weak. The fact that these cowards have to hide while boldly accusing us of being a coward -- the same Anonymous commenter who is willing to step up and criticize Neil Young with his name attached -- is unintended irony so extreme it's hard to express.
Anonymous commenters all feed from the same trough, and their sole allegiance is to their decadent, insular, endlessly narcissist, and deservedly dying pseudo-aristocratic culture. The moral lie and false equivalence/dichotomy are employed recklessly without regard for career damaging implications. Anyone who defends Neil's career must be discredited, impugned and declared to be the enemy. That way, the unpleasant facts can be dismissed away by attacking those who point them out, and fantasies of Neil can be blissfully maintained. Doesn't that also sound familiar?
Neil's decades of achievement in the face of overwhelming obstacles just gets dismissed with a few slothful, totally irresponsible negative reviews from Anonymous commenters and their invisible friends. But that's how "Anonymous commenters" so often work -- Anonymous commenters are allowed to remain hidden while their views and assertions are uncritically amplified in the loudest blogs and bestowed with an authoritative veneer that they absolutely do not merit.
We all have our own ideas and thoughts as to how to achieve our passions, but a damn lot of them are shared goals. We all basically want similar things, so can't we just knuckle down, leave our attitudes at the door and figure out how to work together to build a better Neil community?
(Portions of above have been modified and adapted from The myth of the parasitical bloggers - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com. Thanks!)