Today: Jul 14, 2024

Artists vs performers


There’s a difference between a musician who is a performer and musician who is an artist. Performers will soak up all types of energies possible from their fellow band mates on stage to the people in the audience, like extension cords. Max Bemis of Say Anything and singer/songwriter Jenny Lewis are performers. They’re the ones who take a simple concert and make it larger, going eccentric on stage and looking like they lost their minds.

Artists, on the other hand, want to feel the song just like performers do, but the emotions and moods are completely different. Especially if the artist is a lyricist, he or she wants the crowd to understand everything about that one song in the three-and-a- half-minute bracket; and the mood is serious. Then something happens. There’s the quick moment when the artist, the lead singer, releases a small smile or smirk. The lead singer laughs to the bass player on the right, turns around to face the drummer and giggles, all seriousness is lost.

Last Thursday, at The Space in Hamden, I saw this all happen right in front of me. We Were Promised Jetpacks, a four-piece Indie-rock band from Scotland are close to being done with their U.S. tour and said this was their greatest show in a long, long, long time.

We’ve all heard this being said at concerts with musicians throwing “the greatest crowd ever” phrase around. But the fan girl inside of me really believed him this time. The drummer of We Were Promised Jetpacks, Darren Lackie, told me.

The Space is a small and welcoming venue with the capacity of 150 people. As you’re walking in you feel like you’re walking into your grandparents’ basement, as random bits and pieces of everything are everywhere.

I felt like this had something to do with why this was one of the greatest shows they played in a long time; the comfortable feeling of a small room could make anyone feel at home. He didn’t tell me that this was the specific reason, but his performer energies showed through wildly. He was excited and hyped. He talked of random thoughts I can’t remember because I was too fixed on his perfect Scottish accent to realize what he was saying; till he left to go pack up his drummer kit.

The lead singer of We Were Promised Jetpacks, Adam Thompson, is an artist. He was transfixed with each song performed. By their last song, “It’s Thunder and Lighting,” the audience got to see his artist side first, and then his performer side was unleashed.

The song starts with a buildup, a layering of each instrument one by one. First comes the repetitive little guitar strums and soft vocals, then slowly the guitar and vocals increase more and more with each verse. The audience right here saw Thompson’s performer energies come out.

Once the symbols made their first tinkling noise, the guitars stopped for a few seconds making it only the vocals. The band kept smirking from excitement of what they knew was coming – the climax of the song. The drums rolled in and the band lost their wits. Thompson screamed the chilling vocals as the audience was yelling along.

It takes a lot for a musician to be a performer. Musicians can write their songs, mix them and be artists. But they should also be able to perform eloquently and gain interaction with the crowd. Musicians then will make themselves a band that fans will keep coming back to see. Chances are without the interaction and the little smiles exchanged between the band that make my heart melt, followed with the musicians on stage completely losing their wits, I won’t be going back to see them for the second time.

1 Comment

  1. Jenny Lewis is both a performer and an artist, and an incredible lyricist. Everytime I have seen her live in the last seven years, she portrays the emotion, energy and personality of her music while displaying her many musical talents, and her excitement resonates through her audience. One of her trademarks is her sassy and sexy attitude on stage; I’ve yet to see a show of hers where she didn’t smirk or smile at her bandmates or interact with the audience. I would never put her in the same bracket as any of the band members from Say Anything- and I do like them in fact I just saw them in DC last Tuesday- I just wouldn’t compare them as musicians or performers at all. I would also never say she seems eccentric on stage or looking like she’s lost her mind. She is always cool and collected, she has a purpose for eveything in her music as well as her performances and that is why people love and appreciate her point of view. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t like to dance around and rock out because she does, but I would never say she is over the top or without musical precision.

    Not to trash your article at all, I just love her and am very picky when I read comments about her. I definitely understand and agree with you that there are those out there that can relate or create on stage at a different level than others, but I don’t think she is one of the losers. Not even close.

    Jenny Lewis is a musician. She is an artist. She is an icon. And she is a damn good performer! Please try to see her live if you haven’t had the chance; I promise you won’t be dissapointed. I think most of her fans should know and agree!

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