You know what my favorite part of a live show is?

When the only guitarist onstage is randomly picking out single pinch harmonics up high on the neck which you can’t even really hear and letting them ring out for at least a bar or two each but you do hear a wall of chugging low power chords.

Also when the keyboard “player” is moving his paws up and down all over the keyboard but you don’t hear a corresponding chord change of any sort. Or the opposite when you hear the music changing but his hands down move at all, don’t even bounce as if to hit the same chord repeatedly.

Bonus points when the keyboards are actually just controllers not synths and they don’t appear to be plugged into anything. Sure, with a thin USB cable you can argue that the controllers are moving soft synths in Logic or something like that running on the MacBook the cable leads to, but when I see no sign the controller is connected to a power supply that gets even iffier. [Some are USB-powered, sure.]

But the absolute best is when they walk off stage while the synths keep on playing exactly as before.

Now, I know in EBM/industrial this has been an ongoing joke about how a “live” show is usually more of a DJ set from iTunes where it looks like one dude checking his email onstage and bobbing his head, but at least those guys are honest – you can’t see a solitary dude onstage with only a laptop and not know that’s what the deal is.

But lately I’ve been seeing more and more supposed pop and rock bands pulling the same stunt, and they’re far less honest about it. And funny how all of a sudden someone’s girlfriend now claims to be a synth player but watch her connection cables and watch her hands and it’ll be pretty obvious pretty damn quick whether she’s anything more than decoration or not.

As a solo artist myself I certainly do often use backing tracks for drums and bass and noise, but for some reason even though I’m not a great keyboard player I have this silly notion that unless I’m going to go full honest karaoke like those EBM guys [and not every EBM act is karaoke, a lot of them actually do play live], I should rehearse and learn to play the damn song live, even if I have to strip it down and change the arrangement to make it easier on myself.

Silly me. Next time I should rope a couple friends into standing behind a rack of synths doing nothing and just run the whole thing off the iPod. No rehearsal necessary, just remind them to keep their hands on the keys.

I’ll even run instrument cables off the synths for bonus plausibility. They don’t have to go anywhere.

Everyone’s doing it, right?