Gniedelful Things: You can’t do that on stage anymore

In accordance to my fellow music-bloggers, I rarely write about musical things that I don’t like because why waste precious web-space on shitty music? But sometimes I have to raise a voice because even though usually, I just rant for the fun of it, now and then it’s also to hopefully give some insight into the do’s and don’ts of music/music journalism, as shown here and here. Sure, I am not a musician, so what the hell do I know? Well, I am the fan, I buy the concert tickets and CDs, so even if I acknowledge each and everyone’s creative process, I think there are things that are not necessarily creative but rather self-serving and contra-productive.

Ok, with that out of the way (somehow, most of my rants start with a disclaimer like that, weird), I can start. What is “Gniedeln”? Well, “gniedeln” is a German made-up yet commonly used verb for intrinsic guitar-play that usually does but not necessarily has to occur during a solo. It often comes with the “Gniedel-Gesicht” (“Gniedel-Face”) which is the weird, scrunched-up face that guitar-players have that are highly concentrated. Gniedeln is good, if it’s done well, it can elate a song to dizzying heights. However, there is a huge difference between the necessary gniedeln to help the song and the self-serving show-off of one’s talent. I’ve been to the Zappanale-festival last weekend which can be seen as one of the hot-spots for Gniedeleien all over the place because Zappa loved his instrumental soli. BUT I’ve seen a band there – and I will not name names, because I am essentially a nice person – that played for three hours, played roughly 20 songs and more and had an elongated guitar-solo in EVERY FUCKING ONE OF THEM! People, what the hell?

They had pretty much a guitar-solo for every guitar in this clip

Now, I know that Zappa-fans are generally a little different than us normal-music-lovers because they now and then admire the instrumental/technical skill a little bit more than the actual songwriting which is cool. But I was flabbergasted that everyone loved this band. They played Zappa-cover-songs and had a pretty cool setlist (including “Baby Snakes”, which I really like) and they managed to gniedel every single song into the same 70s 200-Men-Funkband-Jam-Session, it was horrid, it was a three hour torture session of the same guitar solo in all different varieties. Oh, I forgot to mention, to mix things up, they trew in the occasional drum- and hammond organ-solo but only ADDITIONALLY to the guitar solo.

I didn’t even know what to say. Everyone loved them and I questioned my own experiences at every concert ever and tried to conjure up any show that had a freaking 5-10-minute guitar-solo in every single song. I couldn’t think of any show. Oh, and I am not talking about a sweet “Sweet Child O’Mine”-solo that is part of the song. I am talking about the kind of guitar-solo that just stretches the song unnecessarily (especially the funky Zappa-numbers usually gain from their shortness). It was like a Turducken, it was just too ducken much!

So, apart from turning every song into a homogenous mass of gniedeling, a solo-show like this is also uncalled for for one giant reason: it’s never about the song but about the single musician trying to show off. Essentially, you’re watching a three hour masturbation session on the guitar which might be a little better than watching a literal three hour masturbation session but it’s still on the list of things I’d rather not do.

Yeah, just had to share to overcome the trauma. Thanks for listening guys.


8 thoughts on “Gniedelful Things: You can’t do that on stage anymore

  1. You have to reveal who this artist was! I must know. And I love “Baby Snakes”.

    I can say as a guitarist that I try my hardest not to fall victim to the dreaded “guitar face”. Blues guitarists have the look of pain, while metal guitarists look as if they’re doing their best impression of Jack Nicholson from ‘The Shining’. Just play the damn thing. And any solo over a couple minutes is waaay too long.


    1. Funkadelic is in a class all their own. I LOVE extended instrumental passages. LOVE THEM. I’m just not a fan of extended guitar wankery. Wilco’s “Impossible Germany” is an example of extended noodling that I love. Seeing them play it live is a sight to behold.


      1. I think that guitar-soli are not bad per se but yeah, these guys overdid it (They are called Z3, if I remember correctly, so you can google them now). Plus, noodling to make song better is A-ok. Unfortunately, those are in the minority. The biggest problem probably was that my friends (who worked at the backstage-bar) befriended the band and one day later accompanied them for practice. After that, they totally oversold them to me with: “These guys are totally not noodling!” As they were the noodliest band of them all, that pretty much enhanced my dire experience. (As you can tell, I really like “noodling” as the official translation for “gniedeling”).
        Also, I think there really should be a photo collection of the best/worst guitar-faces.


      2. I love the word gniedeling. I wish I could actually hear it spoken in German. I think that would sell it completely for me. But yeah, noodling is my go-to verbiage for anything guitar wankery-related.

        That’s funny….Z3. There was the G3 tour that first included Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Eric Johnson. I can only imagine it was a veritable smorgasbord of guitar solo face contortions. I bet if you do a little google search that photo collection would pop up shortly.


      3. I guess the real feat would be to find a nice and large photo collection of bass-faces. They are usually stoic statues. One of the few exceptions I experienced was Steven Terebecki from White Denim and he earned that face.


      4. It’s the best time to look him up, they’re about to release a new album. I’ll be on it soon enough…


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