YouTube and smart phones: the music journalist's new best friends

YouTube and smart phones: the music journalist's new best friends
Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters plays in the rain at Lolla '11.

On the night of Sunday, August 7, as the rain fell outside my window and the crowds at Lollapalooza dispersed, I was home editing an interview and flipping around online. I did not attend Lolla this year, but I was interested to see how the rain affected the performances. I remember the famous clip of Gavin Rossdale singing "Glycerine" in the rain, though certainly I had to wait at least a day to see that on MTV.

No longer.

A quick scan of youtube pulled up the Foo Fighters banging out "Learn to Fly" as Dave Grohl's soaked hair danced in his eyes. This had to have been, at most, two hours after the performance. And there it was, a fully edited, professional piece of video.

I had a similar experience for the Sunday night of Wicker Park Fest. My friend Marcus Rezak and his band Digital Tape Machine was playing, and since I have not yet seen them live, I was psyched to watch them perform in my backyard. But a week before they played, I got an email from another friend who was putting together a networking Q&A in Hyde Park with a bunch of writers, so when DTM took the stage I was at Park 52 getting sage advice from Scoop Jackson.

What's a fella to do? Well, youtube of course! And thank goodness for user evilmonkey679 for recording DTM's performance with something that is certainly not a Sony HD...

...because the next day I was able to watch the performance.

I stress "definitely not a Sony HD" not to slam evilmonkey679, but on the contrary, to point out that you don't have to be a pro with a pro set-up to leave your mark in the music journalism game. I don't know if evilmonkey679 is a rock journalist or just a music lover, but who cares? The Evil Monkey's channel is FILLED with great you-are-there concert footage. Whatever the intent of evilmonkey679, she or he is now, with the help of a smart phone, a music journalist. Certainly there is more to good journalism than just point and shoot -- backstage access, a larger outlet than social media, and the ability to interview and write are still essential tools -- but at for base-level reporting, someone like evilmonkey679 is invaluable: on the scene, collecting footage, and distributing quickly.

I should know: as a music writer for Performer Magazine,, and my own ReadJack, I've taken advantage of my handheld technology (I use a Droid-X) to film concerts and street performances that would have in many cases remained elusive, or for which I would have needed greater equipment or even a crew to capture. I've also shot interviews and edited them in with my music footage. And I've done it with -- and this is the key -- good sound quality. It's not as crisp and clean as the pros, but you can see it, you can hear it, and you have it with you whenever you leave the house. Check it out...

Kosha Dillz at Metro:

Rubblebucket at Double Door:

Lee England Jr. on Lake and Michigan:

Interview with Tell Your Friends, at Lincoln Hall:

Jack M Silverstein covers music, sports, and community in Chicago, and can be found at He will be providing a look into Chicago music journalism every Thursday at Eye on Chi. Say hey on Twitter @ReadJack.

Dave Grohl photo credit

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