I’ve been told I haven’t been kind to the THE show in the past. Perhaps it’s that’s called the THE show – it’s just one of those annoying things where the first T is actually for “The” so technically it should just be called THE show. But then you’re stuck saying “are you going to THE Show?” and everybody wonders what show you’re asking about. It’s almost as frustrating as GNU Linux, which stands for Gnu is Not Unix. That kind of logic is just downright irritating.
OK, so we’re just talking about semantics, but here's the rub: THE Show is no less hard to sell to folks than GNU. Like a recursive acronym, it trips you up when you try to sell it. When you’re trying to appeal to new customers, you don’t want to be re-cursing and acro-ing anything. It all just sounds bad and bad sound is not what you want folks to remember about an entertainment show.
Speaking of sound, it's also the case that the only “Entertainment” at THE Show is auditory – we’re not talking about video and gaming, here (although they would sound awesome with some of the gear at the show). While they do have a few HT rooms set up, those are usually dismissed as not quite up to the standard of real audiophilia. No, this show really is about sound for sound’s sake. So not only are we acro-cursing, we’re doing it about just a small sliver of all that is contemporary entertainment.
Granted, the LAOCAS (Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society – another unfortunate exercise in acro-nym-ing that confuses), has done quite a remarkable job of dressing it up with a fancy car show, cigar booths, and a wine tasting to add some pizzazz. But this is another big question mark for me: do automobiliphiles, tobaccophiles, and oenophiles have much in common with audiophiles? Aside from the OCD-tinged critiques from non-o-philes everywhere, there is that whole something-phile nomenclature. Nobody really wants to be a -phile anything, because of those other -phile words that people think of. It’s all just confusing, unappealing, and just not marketable.
So what is THE Show and LAOCAS to do? They certainly have a significant following and can draw on their numbers to raise quite an army of folks who aren’t bothered by words and who they can count on to attend. But here’s the problem:
Don’t see it? It’s pretty much one single demographic: middle-aged white males, most of whom also aren’t exactly snazzy dressers, either, it seems. Sure they have the income to support the habit, but how long will they do so?
What this hobby needs is: young people. So will this year’s THE Show draw a new crowd? Well, I am very much encouraged by the new General Manager of the Show, Marine Presson, who stated: “Being of a younger age than many in the industry, I’m fully embracing my advantage of reaching Generation Y, the Millenniums – they are our future and it’s my personal goal to introduce them to the amazing experiences the audio community has to offer.” This is extremely encouraging – In the full ToneAudio interview she makes it clear that she plans to build upon the legacy of the show’s previous success and add something for the next generation of audio enthusiasts. So I am curious to see what this year’s show will bring that is fresh and new.
However, the list of live acts isn’t as encouraging: mostly jazz with a smattering of classical. Now I happen to like jazz and classical, but let’s be clear, this isn’t the music of choice for a younger audience. I’ve spoken to quite a few people at the show about this, and the answer is always the same: “What’s wrong with jazz? I love jazz!” Well buddy, this isn’t just about you any more than it is about me.
Now I realize that this show isn’t going to draw acts like Sia, Drake or Disturbed (…and if you don’t know who these are, then, yes, I’m speaking to you). However, what about some up & coming talent from right here in LA that isn’t going to cost a mint, but will draw a younger crowd like Springtime Carnivore or Avid Dancer? Heck, if you really want to draw a crowd of folks who know good sound: Vexare. You’d be surprised what this demographic can teach the rest of us about headphones. Yes I know the thought of bringing a DubStep act to the THE Show might scare a few folks, but this may be what it will take to draw in a new crowd. That and some serious thought about the acronyms and labels used.
It's all in a name...
I was reminded by my ever-so-astute kids that when talking about THE Show, if you start with “the” then you are left with just Home Entertainment, that is, just “HE”. I’ve dragged my poor kids to a few of these already, and they were quick to point out how fitting that was since: “it’s all for guys…”. Sure there’s a few women here in there, but most of them are poor wives dragged against their will into a world that simply isn’t very interesting or exciting as it is. But then my kids were also quick to knock me down from my soapbox with the inevitable “…just like you, dad!”
Anyhow, I do have high hopes for the show this year. Let’s hope it measures up. If you need to find me at the show, I’ll be the one who is going to get banned from the Rockport room for daring to ask them to play my Papa Roach CD on their Arrakis speakers. That’s OK, I’m sure the folks in the Zu room will oblige. Just listen for the chorus of “My Heart is a Fist:”
Take a look at these hollow eyes
One last look before I say goodbye
To this candle-lit nightmare
I feel like can never escape
My Heart is a Fist…