Look around, Portland music lovers, we've lost something—our need to dance. No longer are P-town live shows rife with rowdy bouncing and bopping, we have become a society of head-nodders and feet-shufflers. Blame the hipsters, blame the music, I blame this: Guitarists aren't showin' their guitar faces anymore.
"Guitar face" is the near-orgasmic range of expressions rock gods of yore—the Jimis, the Pages, the Robbie Robertsons—set upon their faces when they laid into a white-hot riff. When Hendrix dropped a feedback-soaked solo, it touched his soul, and the audience could see it plain as day. Eyes slammed shut and mouth ajar, Hendrix wore the love of monster electro wailing in the tiniest crevices of his cheeks. In return, audiences threw love right back. Hippies danced and thrust rock-loving hands into the air, showing Hendrix this music-powered grimace moved them to the soles of their feet.
Watch Eddie Van Halen, all neon tiger stripes, tearing through a mid-song solo, mouth agape, fingers racing the length of the guitar. This is guitar LOVE. His anguished faces are our clearest measure of what these beasts felt about their music. It is raw and uncouth, and exactly what rock 'n' roll today is missing.
We have lost the guitar face. Live shows now are often played with lights turned off, guitar face and pure guitar love a fleeting memory. With our guitar face forgotten, we, the audience, are ghosts. Our emotional lifeline cut, we are abandoned, and we bob and nod and shuffle our feet, but never do we cut loose.
Hope is not lost. There are bands today—Mastodon and Wolfmother to name a couple—that channel the forgotten face. When they play, I feel that good old guitar-face feeling creepin' through my bones. I feel it down low and I feel like dancin'. And that's just the way I like it.