Most music enthusiasts would agree that a live performance beats sitting in your room, listening to the same recording of your favorite artist over and over again, regardless of how good Beats by Dre can make it sound. Alas, as college students, we do not possess the conveniences of free time, ample money and friends with exactly the same taste in music to just pack up and catch a tUnE-yArDs’ concert. Luckily, a number of websites have popped up on the Internet that can present us with a live show on our very own computer desktops. The following is a collection of sites I stumbled upon (some of which, actually, through StumbleUpon) that will present you with the luxuries of a live video and/or audio recording of your favorite artists, all at the click of a mouse.
Daytrotter is a hip little website run out of a recording studio in Illinois. Its aim is to capture unreleased songs, alternate versions of tracks, and the fleeting, unpremeditated moments that occur in the recording process. As a result of the copious artists who pass through the conveniently located studio while on tour, Daytrotter has racked up a truly impressive collection of live audio recordings, all available for free download, that is if you sign up for the 7 day free trial (on multiple e-mail accounts). The best part of this website is that each session’s post is embellished with an expertly written description, and a vivid, hand-drawn artist portrait that both yield a quirky aura.
Although it took me weeks to figure out how to get this site in English, I promise, it is well worth the struggle. My favorite part of the French website are the weekly podcasts of unconventional, almost bohemian music videos called “Take-Away Shows,” which offer an interesting marriage of musicianship and cinematography. These grab-and-goes feature well-known artists playing in quaint settings around Paris. Chryde, founder of the website, dreamed up these innovations in an effort to change up the way music is shared and filmed. “Les Concerts à Emporter” are filmed by Vincent Moon using a form of guerilla filmmaking, giving an uncultivated personality to the short films. The sessions are usually two or three tracks casually improvised, producing something somewhere between a live performance and a polished music video. The result is truly charming.
Some highlights of “Take Away Shows” have been:
- Squeezing Arcade Fire (nine musicians, instruments and all) into a freight elevator to play “Neon Bible”
- Paris café goers chanting, “Blake’s got a new face!” along with Vampire Weekend
-Jason Mraz jamming with an elderly street musician
3. NPR Music
NPR has been my go-to hub for discovering new albums for as long as I can remember. I am particularly drawn to the site because of its thorough inclusion of most genres of music; its classical music section is perhaps the strongest on the site. The true treasures of this website lie in its bountiful selection of live performances, both video and audio. NPR has also ingeniously integrated “Tiny Desk Concerts,” which are truncated performances of various artists, from classical to rap, held in front of Bob Boilen’s desk in the NPR music office. These 15-minute concerts are casual and fun, and the high quality of recording makes you feel as though you are there.
Australian Chamber Orchestra (Audio Only) P.S. These guys are coming to Bailey on April 27th!
From the Basement is the brainchild of producer and Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich, so you know it’s good. This site started as small collection of audience-free music performances, but was soon picked up by television networks in both the U.S. and Britain. The original website can still stand alone on the musical artists it helped to take off, and continues to promote unsigned artists that show true promise.
5. From the Top
This site is the place to view up-and-coming classical music prodigies while discovering new works. Hilary Hahn herself performed on this show before the launch of her highly successful solo violin career. If you are an instrumentalist in any way, shape or form, viewing these performances may infuriate you; however, if you are like me, and have long ago come to terms with the fact that you are too old and are in no way talented enough to become some sort of virtuoso, these performances are mind-blowing. Who knows, one of these kids may even be from your hometown. Host Christopher O’Riley does a great job of giving a background to the classical music that is played. The radio show is perhaps, more entertaining, as he puts together trivia and game contests, often geared toward the prodigy’s specific talent. It is interesting to see how these scarily talented kids loosen up, or if they even can.
And here are a handful of websites good for easily accessible, free, quality songs FYE. Most are geared towards house/techno music, but also include some really catchy hip-hop, mashups, etc.
2. Our Cazza
Disclaimer: Do not open this somewhere where you don’t want it to seem as though you are looking at porn. Great site, nonetheless.
Martha Wydysh is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.