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Couch Concerts 

Music should be seen, not watched.

I've barely got the attention span for a music video -- on those rare occasions when MTV or MTV2 deign to play one -- so music DVDs make no sense to me.

What shmuck slumps on the couch, Doritos in hand, for hours on end, while a band rocks out on the screen? All a CD/DVD combo means to me is an extra coaster. And why so many multi-DVD sets these days?

Recently, my mailbox has been Motel 6 to doubles from Phish (Live in Brooklyn), Arch Enemy (Live Apocalypse), and Dream Theater (Score), as well as triples by Rush (Replayx3) and Amon Amarth (Wrath of the Norsemen). A 90-minute slump session seems unpromising enough; four or five hours spent swapping discs, clicking through overly complex menus and -- in the cases of Rush and Amon Amarth -- watching multiple run-throughs of the same songs is enough to make Ryan Seacrest sound interesting.

Even under optimum circumstances, when the band's great and the performance is red-hot, you just wind up bouncing on the couch, wishing you'd been there. More often than not, though, it's even duller than listening to a weak album, minus the close-ups of the guitarist's hands. Woo-hoo.

Beyond the lameness of the aesthetic experience itself, music DVDs breed a bad generation of rock fans. If heavy-duty couch time hasn't made them too obese to go out at all, folks used to solitary music experiences wind up being That Guy at the concert, complaining loudly because someone's smoking near them or talking or standing in their sight line or grabbing their ass. Whatever. Live music is for live shows. DVDs are for porn. End of story.

Speaking of Shorts

More by Phil Freeman


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