There's nothing inherently wrong with bland music. In fact, it wasn't until the last few decades that "bland" picked up a pejorative connotation; used to be that when something was described as "bland" they meant to compliment it as something soothing, something gentle and pleasant, and there is plenty of music in this world that works just fine as a kind of trance-inducer. However, when music is supposed to get the crowd jumping -- when a band is working in a rock'and'roll paradigm and each band member takes time to posture or strut (whichever's appropriate) while ripping on their guitar, assaulting their drums or slapping away at the bass -- bland is not a word that should be anywhere near the mind.
Yet that's the first word that came to mind when I witnessed David Paige's
performance at the Bowery Electric last Tuesday. Upon further examination, though, it's not quite right; other, even more appropriate words still fall short. "Insubstantial," is too complementary, as if to say the work fell just short of something; "empty" would imply that there's a vessel to be filled here, an empty room but sizable room just waiting to be stocked full of influences.
The reality is that there's just very little of anything
in Paige's water-logged brand of pop-rock and it is
a brand; from the USB-equipped slap bracelets the manager handed out to the Paige's pseud-suave self-presentation you could tell this was about selling an image of savvy "cool" rather. The fact that he touted his appearance on VH1's "Let's Make a Rock Star" throughout the show as if it was some kind of bona fides was the last word anyone needed to hear. That he complemented this with classically obnoxious rock-star behavior -- dedicating songs to exes and "crazy bitches," swaggering front-and-center on stage so we could all witness his attempts at shredding -- might have been meant to distract from the complete dearth of musical ideas that Paige and his own brought to the stage but it actually only served to highlight how little musically this outfit had to offer.
To call Mr. Paige's music bad would be to give it too much credit; it'd be like a food critic calling poi disgusting when the truth is that it's so tasteless it does not even fire up the taste buds. Similarly, the music that comes out of David Paige's band glides right through one ear and out of the other, failing to alight for even a second on the brain. It's so far behind the background that it's not even background music; it's a vacuum.