Why Do We Watch Live Music the Same Way We Watch Television?

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Charles Leo Gebhardt IV.
That's what Charles Leo Gebhardt IV wants to know in part II of our conversation with the local singer and songwriter, who is celebrating the release of his new record, Begin Again, Saturday at Cairo.

Gebhardt: That's what I like about [swing] music, it's written for people to dance to. The music was designed in this entirely different way, which is to support dancing. Once it became about seeing Frank Sinatra sing the song that you've heard a million times, and you're sitting in an audience, it's boring to me.

SW: It's actually something that really interests me in going to see a show in Seattle, you just sit there looking at the band onstage. We're so used to looking at television.

How is an audience member enjoying themselves? What are they doing to create their own experience in this? Are they just looking at this band that's playing and listening? What is their experience in the room? How are they engaging the rest of the audience?

When I go to a show, I can get bored.

There's like a really loud band playing. You want to have people look at you when you play. I have a hard time relating to that, to just viewing a band play, which is why I like [swing] music. It's not just like you're going to come see this orchestra stand onstage and play. It's like a weird business model now, because it's like, do you go to the Comet Tavern to see that band, or do you go there to drink?

It made sense when it was John Coltrane and every show was different and he was improvising. Today, especially in this town, in rock circles at least, most people are just trying to replicate their record.

I always think about it at a show: Why are we just looking at this band playing? Why should I find this engaging? I oftentimes don't. Not to put down anybody. I don't necessarily know I would find my performance engaging. 'Cause I'm doing exactly what you're saying.

Do you get offended if people aren't watching you?

No, not at all. That's the thing. You go into a bar and a band starts playing, it's like, boom, there goes the atmosphere. It's great to have a place like the old Crocodile, where you a a room where, if you weren't into it, you could go talk to your friends.

I don't need to be the focus of the entire room.

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