I Am Getting Old--A report on a highlight of my year.

This is the place where you can vent whatever's on your mind. Feel free to go off on extended rants or brief blurbs about whatever's rocking your world.

Moderators: D. Phillips, Jake

Barabajagal
GLONO Board Maniac
Posts: 1461
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2003 11:15 am
Location: Not quite close enough to say Chicago

I Am Getting Old--A report on a highlight of my year.

Postby Barabajagal » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:42 pm

Just for the record, I am definitely getting old. Apologies for a long belated post--thanks for the venue.

One of the highlights of my year was getting the freak chance to go to Las Vegas in October for Matador Records' 21st birthday party. The bands and guests all stayed in the same hotel, so it was fun to have the elevator open to Kim Gordon or catch breakfast with Bobby Pollard and Carl Newman. "Hey, Liz Phair just passed me in the skyway!" "I just played craps next to Britt Daniel!"

Some highlights:

Seeing Pavement play a loose, fun, rocking set, not looking like they'd rather be anywhere else--and a reminder of how many great songs they have.

Seeing Sonic Youth as if for the first time--other times I'd seen them, it was like all white noise. They were imo the best act of the event. very, very cool, vital, creative.

Cat Power--By far, the most star potential--the real thing, so shyly kept. Phenomenal band--my wife congratulated the wonderful drummer, Jim White, in the lobby.

Belle & Sebastian--consumate pros, and the only emotionally-connecting band of the event. Is it possible to be twee and totally badass simultaneously?

Liz Phair--Five old songs with guitar, every single one of which I wanted to hear

Mitch Mitchell from GBV goofily stage crashing through Yo La Tengo's shitty set and nearly getting punched out by their roadie

Opening emcees Scharpling and Wurster--Scharpling has a DJ gig in New Jersey (and produced the brilliant series, Monk; Wurster is Superchunk's drummer and plays the funnyman to Scharpling's straight man. Their stuff is worth a download, for sure, and their lampoons of the music scene are awesome.

* * *

Spoon -- professional, perfunctory, great sound, dull as a doorknob. Played whatever set they're currently touring with (zzzz), should have played more "hits."

New Pornographers--charming as usual, with the exception of the wretched Dan Bejar being apparently forced through three songs. The audience (as you can imagine, hipsters median age 35-ish) was not participating in a sing-along of one of a Bejar song (though they did for others--yay, audience!). Carl Newman tried: "Everybody...come on, sing along....You can do better than that...Sing along, God DAMN you!" But their newer material fell flat. I kind of think they said all they had to say on the first three records. But great stage set-up and arrangements.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion--One of the sets I was most looking forward to, they were partly plagued by poor sound. But also, a lot more shtick-y and hokey than I expected. Sadly, "meh."

Superchunk--I really, really don't like their brand of paint-by-numbers pop punk, but if you were a Superchunk fan, it was a phenomenally tight, high energy show of all the faves.

Yo La Tengo--I used to love this band! Now I see they are everything wrong with indie rock, and I despise these uber-poseurs. Oh, you're doing the "whispery vocal" thing again? Wow, is that a vintage organ you're allowing to play the same fucking chord for 5 minutes? Assholes. Hey Ira, mangling the guitar during one song is cool. Mangling it every time is like admitting you're out of ideas. Total amateur hour.

Guided By Voices "Classic lineup"--I've seen them post-classic lineup a bunch, never seen this iteration, though. They are more fun, less competent, and played everything you'd want them to play. And yet I couldn't help but feel there was something pathetic about it. The GBV meatheads of the audience, always a fixture, really grated this time. While Demos and Mitchell were clearly thrilled and entertaining, Bobby was really looking like the 50+ year old he is, going through the motions, and Tobin Sprout seemed almost too...dignified. It was cool, I'm glad I saw it, but I feel like "Goodbye to all that." A fitting farewell.

Indeed the whole event felt valedictory--a way of celebrating, yet leaving behind, this music that meant so much over the last 20 years. And I couldn't help but feel slightly critical: Why is Belle & Sebastian the only group that tried to speak to me emotionally? Why is Chan Marshall the only one who I would put onstage with mainstream stars? In other words, there was something about Matador's too cool for school aesthetic--all Fender guitars and drone-y Velvet Underground influence--that highlighted a certain bloodless conformity in indie rock (as highlighted by Yo La Tengo). I still can't put my finger on it--perhaps I'm just too much of a rock "classicist" in terms of values--but it did make me feel "old" thinking it.

Jake
GLONO Team Member
Posts: 7238
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2001 8:00 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: I Am Getting Old--A report on a highlight of my year.

Postby Jake » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:38 pm

Barabajagal wrote:Indeed the whole event felt valedictory--a way of celebrating, yet leaving behind, this music that meant so much over the last 20 years. [...] In other words, there was something about Matador's too cool for school aesthetic--all Fender guitars and drone-y Velvet Underground influence--that highlighted a certain bloodless conformity in indie rock (as highlighted by Yo La Tengo).

Twenty-one years of rocking the same general aesthetic is a long-ass time. I'm not saying "indie rock is dead" but it's perfectly understandable to get tired of it.

Twenty-one years. Think of that in terms of rock and roll history. Look at a label like at Atlantic Records. They started in 1947 as a jazz/r&b label and twenty-one years later they released Led Zeppelin. I realize that between 1947 and 1968 things were changing radically and quickly, but still.

Twenty-one years ago, no one had cell phones, and personal computers didn't do much other than games and word processing. The world has changed pretty radically since 1989, too. But Matador albums still sound like Matador albums. Which is great, I guess. Look at this discography. They're one of the most consistent labels out there (along with Merge), but it's okay to get bored with it and to stop caring about new releases that sound like warmed up versions of stuff that came out 20 years ago.

The important thing is to keep your ears open, so that when something new and great comes out you don't totally miss it. The internet is great for that. Most independent labels/artists offer one song per album for free download now, or you can go to the Hype Machine and sample a bunch of stuff. It all comes down to great songs and great performance. I don't care how many bands copy the VU formula; when somebody does it well with a great song, I'm going to dig it. But way, way too many bands are mediocre.

We've been doing Glorious Noise for almost ten years now (next month!), and the one thing I learned as soon as people started sending us promos was that there are way, way more mediocre bands than bad and good ones combined. It's mind-numbing. Competent but not good enough to be good.

But if you think things are bad now, just wait until the full-on 90s revival kicks in...any minute now...

worpswede
GLONO Board Maniac
Posts: 1792
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 5:43 pm
Location: (((IOWA)))

Postby worpswede » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:47 pm

Great post. Someone get this Donovan loving motherfucker on the payroll.

DJMurphy forgot to log in

Postby DJMurphy forgot to log in » Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:43 pm

This should have been on the main page, complete with photos and everything! Thanks for letting us know what we missed (and in some cases, didn't miss). Did Liz Phair do Stratford-on-Guy?

Barabajagal
GLONO Board Maniac
Posts: 1461
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2003 11:15 am
Location: Not quite close enough to say Chicago

Postby Barabajagal » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:33 pm

Aye, Murph, she did! That was the one I wanted, too!

My pictures all came out crappy...tried all kinds of settings but just had a point-and-shoot.

21 years with pretty damn good ears in their leaders and I have to say, a good sense of humor about stuff that didn't work so well for them (forays into hip hop, etc). They really are one of the avatars of what we know of as indie rock, and if you think of what that meant prior to the internet...well, a it means a heck of a lot more than what Nirvana meant (not to dis Nirvana).

My impression was that these artists' values are rooted in a period of time, after punk rock, where bands kind of came down to our level--there is virtually no difference between the guys in Pavement and the people that go to see them. And indeed, you can walk right up to any of them and they'll chat with you. And I guess I have mixed feelings about that....

That's kind of what I admired about Chan Marshall, in a way--there's something otherworldly and untouchable about her innate talent and stage persona. I'm not saying "Go see Cat Power now!" but just that in her, there's a more old-school star--as opposed to an art school kid with really good taste. You'd be crazy not to sign her. And I sort of miss that about music, now.

miss carol
GLONO Board Maniac
Posts: 4113
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2002 10:39 am
Location: Toronto

Postby miss carol » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:18 pm

Excellent and concise writing, Barabajagal!

A couple of things spring to mind, with regards to getting old. Was this a industry-showcase gig or a fan fest? If it was for industry, then perhaps the energy wasn't there for the bands. If it was a fan fest, then I expect you attended an indie version of a state-fair oldies show.

"Indie" isn't my party anymore.

jonas
GLONO Board Kingpin
Posts: 898
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2004 10:18 pm
Location: GLONew England

Postby jonas » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:48 pm

I enjoyed this post a lot, and second the motion that it should be main-page. Oh, and I envy that you got to attend this. This was invitation-only?

thousandfold
GLONO Board Kingpin
Posts: 534
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 1:47 pm
Location: The O.C., California
Contact:

Re: I Am Getting Old--A report on a highlight of my year.

Postby thousandfold » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:09 am

Barabajagal wrote:Yo La Tengo--I used to love this band! Now I see they are everything wrong with indie rock, and I despise these uber-poseurs. Oh, you're doing the "whispery vocal" thing again? Wow, is that a vintage organ you're allowing to play the same fucking chord for 5 minutes? Assholes. Hey Ira, mangling the guitar during one song is cool. Mangling it every time is like admitting you're out of ideas. Total amateur hour.


Ah, I was thinking of going to see them! Thanks for the info, now I know it's not worth the hassle of getting a babysitter and staying out late on a weeknight. Also, I can't believe I worry about such things. I'm old too.

Mixmaster Shecky
Honorary GLONO Board OG
Posts: 3118
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2001 8:00 pm
Location: West Michigan

Postby Mixmaster Shecky » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 am

I already know I'm old so that part wouldn't bother me. Still sounds like a fantastic time. Great post, too.

Jake
GLONO Team Member
Posts: 7238
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2001 8:00 pm
Location: Michigan

Postby Jake » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:31 am

What was in the swag bag?


Return to “Rants and Raves”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests