Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Everyone on Bass?

I had the opportunity to see Lightspeed Champion last week, at KoKo in London, as part of the iTunes festival. I've bee a long time fan, since bumping into them (well, lead Dev Hynes) on a plane last year. However, this was the first time I'd seem them live.

It was a great set (and a good crowd at the venue). What struck me most was that almost everyone in the band took a turn on bass (with only the violinist not picking up the 4 string wonder). It made me wonder two things:

  1. How many bassists are multi-instrumentalists?
  2. How comfortable would you be playing someone else's bass during a gig?

Having a broader outlook than just bass guitar is always a good thing - expanding your sense of melody, harmony and rhythm.

I didn't manage to convince these hardcore Lightspeed Champion fans to take up bass, which is a shame (another one of those bass not for girls say the girls moments). They did put up with me taking photos over their shoulder - fair deal.

As you can see, after the crowds have gone, KoKo is an unusual venue - it describes itself as the most opulent venue in London. The sound and lighting was excellent, and it definitely counts as a bass player friendly venue - unlike a few I could mention.

Lightspeed Champion have their own blog (strong language warning), which is quite an entertaining read. However, it didn't solve the mystery of the night for me: What is this bass:


Rachael said...

I think a lot of instruments these days are "multisex", in that there are large numbers of both boys and girls taking up these instruments. The clarinet and saxophone would be a good example.

I'm currently trying to teach myself bass, but I think the reason that it's not going so well is:

1) My fingers don't seem to want to move in the way that my bass wants them to move. They can fly up and down a clarinet no problem, but try and move from 3rd fret to 5th and it feels like they're about to snap.

2) I can't seem to wrap my head around the re-tuning and tabs. Somehow the tabs don't match up in my head with the accompanying bass clef's music.

Apart from that though, it's going quite well!

I also don't have problem switching instruments in a gig, or with playing someone else's instrument (or letting them play mine). It's all about trust. If you trust someone with your instrument, and they trust you with theirs, then you can pretty much play anything. It's always a good fun challenge to do something you're not familiar with, especially at short notice and under pressure!

Benjamin said...

Hello Rachael, and welcome!

I agree with you, instruments are more and more multisex, good news it is too!

Bass is a very physical instrument initially (not quite as bad as double bass), but once your fingers are used to it, the middle stage of learning isn't too bad...

On the switching instruments thing, I'll come back to that, because it is worth a post in it's own right. There are some unique challenges with bass, because instruments vary so much.