Music » Our Town Could Be Your Life

Our Town Could Be Your Life

pdxdiyshows

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It's difficult to say exactly when the pdxdiyshows list died. Once host to a lively online discussion about do-it-yourself music, in the last few years the list simply faded into well-intentioned spam anonymity with mass mailings supplanting personal messages.

Tragically, the duty of identifying the list's corpse fell to its family and friends. One of the latter, Præston Priest, recently posted, "As the usefulness of this list seems to have long since passed, I'm going to bid all of you a sincere farewell." He went on to ask some reflective questions about the origins of the list: Why was it created? Did it succeed in its goals? In response, Nate Groadie, of electro-metal band Jonny X and the Groadies, and the list's father, explained that he founded the list in late 2001 to help people, particularly teenagers without a direct social connection to the scene, learn about small alternative events that were not typically covered by the traditional media.

In this light, some possible reasons for the list's demise become apparent. One uplifting read is that the "scene" to which Nate alluded— Portland's thriving world of avant and experimental music—has become less marginalized in recent years and consequently no longer needs its own oasis online. Local media now gives these genres greater attention, and bookers and audiences alike seem to have grown more adventurous, gleefully embracing diverse bills that present noise next to indierock. Alternately, we could chalk up the list's disintegration to its inherent technical limitations. As a Yahoo! Group, essentially a glorified mailing list, pdxdiyshows is devoid of the interactive dynamism that drives people to music-oriented websites, like MySpace or Last.fm, and community bulletin boards such as Toronto's Stillepost. A third, more disheartening explanation is that the list has not attracted the audience for which it was created—teenagers. While I'm sure some local youths saw Alarmist at a house show (a good thing) thanks to pdxdiyshows, the sad truth is that we collectively do so little in Portland to make local music accessible to people under 21 that a single list can't possibly make a dent in this problem. The critical mass to sustain a youth-oriented online discussion of local music simply doesn't exist, and this is an issue that deserves our attention.

Of course, the state of music in Portland is at an all-time creative high, so does it really matter if one discussion list bites the dust? I think it does. There is a reason that so many musicians and music-lovers live here, as opposed to more traditional big-city music centers, and I think that reason boils down to community. Portlanders believe that participating in a living, breathing creative community of one's friends and neighbors is fundamentally more empowering than simply accepting as art whatever Clear Channel is pushing. The personal interaction innate in discussing the music made around us is critically important to the health of our community. I certainly hope that the collegial dialogue that once existed on pdxdiyshows reasserts itself on the list or finds another home.

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