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Katrina Steier, Managing Editor
Jam bands, funk or alternative punk rock. This is the music scene that Oneonta has to offer—options that are disheartening at best. No amount of gin and tonics will make me want to listen to some bizarrely named electro-reggae-funkadelic band at the Oak for six hours and actually enjoy it. I won’t even mention the discordant, sleazy noise that pervades the other bars of Oneonta on a weekend night—really, I won’t.
While the Oneonta Theater does manage to book decent music every so often, the cost of tickets is not affordable and good shows are few and far between. So I find myself stuck between choosing to pay five dollars to listen to rowdy, ill-composed bar music or simply going home and watching The Wonder Years on Netflix. There are a few reasons why the music here has little variety in genre and one of them could be that upstate New York is kind of out of the way… of everything or it could be the lack of venues. Besides the Oak, and with the Pub gone, bands have slim pickins’.
Of course there are always the charming and cramped house shows in basements that look like they belong in horror films. Needless to say, this town is lacking. I find myself asking questions such as, do the show-goers here actually enjoy this kind of, dare I say, music? Or are they settling? Or is everyone too intoxicated to care? The punk rock and metal scene here is pretty successful, which is alright, but I personally enjoy something a little more euphonious. Or at least something that doesn’t sound like it was thrown together hap-hazardly and half drunk. And I wouldn’t mind a little less emphasis on the bass, man.
There are more funk bands than pizza shops in Oneonta—and that’s quite a lot. While I prefer funk to most other genres; it all tends to sound the same and blend into this contrived, mundane, Eddie Kendrix influenced- clusterfuck. I just can’t really get down. And jam bands, unless doing covers (and even then, I’m not too keen), are only good for headaches.
As a music enthusiast, of course I’m frustrated. Especially when I go to places such as Albany or New York City, with musically rich and diverse communities. I’ve already accepted the fact that there is not much else to do in this town but drink, and I may as well listen to some good music while I indulge.
The obvious solution to this deficiency is to wear headphones at all times. Or, form my own booking company. My colleague and I are starting a project together in an effort to bring decent artists to this town. We named our company “En Masse,” a French phrase meaning “all together.” We are working with some local artists to put together shows and we hope to branch out eventually. We are not subscribing to any particular genres and we will be using a kitchen as our venue. What could be better than watching an awesome band and eating a freshly baked cookie at the same time? Probably nothing. We want to provide an option for people who appreciate something different and desire an alternative from the usual music setting.
In the meantime, unless I can choose Talking Heads on the jukebox at the bar, I probably will avoid most shows that the local venues have lined up. Though I am a supporter of local music, I am not an advocate for sloppy composition or cacophonous noise—I am a supporter of quality. And cookies.