To Shoot or not to Shoot, that Is the Question

by Hayden Chisholm –

Since a good while most of the concerts of the Moers festival haven been filmed and streamed by fantastic team of students from Cologne. All well and good. Yet I remember a time when Reiner told me he had chosen not to stream a particular concert. He said something along the lines of „People should be there, it’s all about being there in the moment, not everything needs to be recorded and broadcast“. And I can remember sharing his sentiments.

One of things „our“ music lives from is its immediacy. It operates absolutely in the moment. It is not the kind of music you can package and send on tour knowing that every night will be the same and the audience will love it over and over. No, it is laden with risks and that is what gives it its power. The same band will burn the roof down one night and only manage to warm the first rows on the next. Many factors are at play but when pure improvisation is one of the central tenants of the music, anything is possible and the risks are a plenty.

I’ve been involved with plenty of video shoots and I know the procedures back to front. The finished products are often slick and put us musicians in good light – but it is a far cry from power of the actual moment. It serves its purpose well in spreading the message wider than the festival hall – but it has its limits and these are no small ones. And that is why the „being there“ is all the more important at the festival. The video stream surely gives people from abroad a good idea of the atmosphere inside the hall but nothing will come close to sitting in the festival hall, the visceral interaction with the wall of sound, and being party to musicians taking risks on stage and searching for something precious.

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