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Fleetwood experiments with ‘quiet’ rock

Rock Hall event hopes to raise awareness about hearing loss
/ Source: The Associated Press

Mick Fleetwood sometimes has to lean over at the dinner table and concentrate on what somebody is saying a few feet away.

The 57-year-old drummer for Fleetwood Mac said his partial hearing loss is why he became involved in Monday’s experimental “quiet” rock concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in which about 100 people took part, with mixed results.

The concert featured the band Eagles of Death Metal, which first played two songs without any amplification. The audience, listening through miniature radio receivers, reacted mostly with smiles to the adjustable sound.

The band then followed with three amplified songs on speakers, as it normally performs. Many in the crowd jumped up, dancing and waving their arms.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, based in Rockville, Md., measured the unamplified sound at 62 decibels — a normal level — and the amplified sound at 124 decibels, which they said is like a jet engine.

Fleetwood, a 1998 inductee into the Rock Hall, said many rock musicians now wear ear protection or monitor their music electronically, but he questioned whether quiet concerts would catch on.

“Who’s to say? Could you see 18,000 people someday listening to Pink Floyd on head phones? Maybe, with a weird magic wand,” he said. “What I’d hope this does is make the point that you can wear ear protection, such as earplugs, at concerts and still enjoy the concert.”

Ben Schreckengost, 21, a former member of a rock band, said the quiet concert didn’t impress him much. “I would think live is better,” he said. “I like to sing along. You don’t feel the bass and the drum.”

But Yulia Kokhan, 26, enjoyed the muted tones. “I don’t like loud,” she said.

Fleetwood Mac, a classic rock band dating to the 1960s, still performs and will likely have another tour in 2006, Fleetwood said.