I’ve been thinking a bit about the new sincerity, as opposed to the old irony. I’ve been hearing for a while that irony is dead. For example, Dave Eggers proclaimed that his book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and its title, are not ironic. OK, so Dave thinks that book was a work of genius. I read it and I don’t agree, but so what. There is some debate on the definition of irony, but Eggers is a stickler for that sort of thing, so I’m assuming he’s using the traditional definition of “the use of words to express the opposite of what one means,” such as the Nirvana lyric “and I swear that I don’t have a gun.” I use irony in the larger sense as applied to literary value. For example, a sincere love poem leaves itself exposed to the reader’s ironic interpretation (especially if I’m the reader). Literary irony allows the author to incorporate his own awareness of opposite and complimentary attitudes. Irony often includes smirking and air quotes. Indie rock wiped out the old sincerity, but the new sincerity is now oozing back. The most obviously example I have is Andrew WK. Party on Wayne, or Ted. Fight for your right to, and etc. I’m beginning to think that the new sincerity is just a marketing name for the old stupidity. Irony, and its grosser cousin sarcasm, requires a certain level of intellect and sophistication perhaps not attainable by some. I shall not point fingers at the likes of Andrew WK, or Kid Rock. This is not to say that I think the purveyors of sincerity are moronic. Far from it. I think it takes guts and smarts to do something good that’s not cloaked in some sort of guise, be it the old sincerity or the new sincerity. I mean, here we are, more than ten years after Jane’s Addiction proclaimed that nothing’s shocking (and if Perry said it then, everyone else was saying it five years previous), so where do we go from here? The shock of the new has become boring. How ‘bout an integration of the two? Take The Osbournes, a perfect meld of both the old irony and the new sincerity. The Osbourne family are sincerely like everyone else, except they’re really rich and Ozzy is the prince of fucking darkness, as he says. That’s dramatic irony. Will Kelly Osbourne’s cover of "Papa Don't Preach," on the upcoming Osbourne family CD be meta-irony, new sincerity, or just bad?
Kings County Queens CD release party @ North Six: Ff reminds me why I love to see live music. Ff rocks. I went to see The Beatings the night before at CBs—they were supposed to rock, but mostly they plodded. The next band, The Actual, rocked in a very derivative Green Day sort of way, so they rocked, but they were not rocking. And then I got to see Ff, after how many Ff’ing years? I’ve been waiting for a long time to see Ff. I missed my chance back in the day, despite the fact that Andy Ras Vegas from Sprinkle Genies told me, and even Peter Bernard thought I’d like them. But then they were no more, and then I went to work at a job and I was talking to the only cool girl in the office, and she was starting a band, and her husband used to be in a band, Ff. Your husband was in Ff? Well, He was Ff. Geesus! And the band Suzanne was starting up was Kings County Queens. And the rest is mystery, as they don’t say.
Ff manages to eat all that old shit you love and spit it back to you with such tremendous intensity the impact snaps your head back. They’re a toxic cocktail of Husker Du and The Replacements and Cheap Trick with some Jack and angst. And they’re masters of deception. They sound fugging nasty, but the songs are so so sweet, like a marachino cherry soaked in bourbon (or a velvet glove cast in irony, to paraphrase Russ Myers via Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, and don’t you even try to tell me it’s goddam Dan Clowes, you hipster doofus. By the way, I have a new band name—Husker Du Doodoo, ie, do you remember shit?).
The new Kings County Queens (kingscountyqueens.com) record, Big Ideas, is available on Rubric Records (rubricrecords.com), and this was the reason for the Ff reunion. After Ff, the Queens did some old stuff, and some new stuff, and some stuff so new it’s not on the new records. The Voice outed KQCs as rockers, but I like to think of them as the band Patsy Cline would have loved had she been born in the 70s. They’re as sweet as shoofly pie, but there are actual flies in that slice, so be careful. The longing and yearning can take a turn down a mean street. Now, maybe I’m crazy, but I recall them being all acoustic last time I saw them—Daria Klotz on the baritone uke, Suzanne Price on accordion, Eric Eble on upright bass, Ff’s Tom Price was on drums last time, but now its Johnny Rock, and Chris Bowers on geetar. But he had an electric this time. No matter, they sound great, so who cares what the hell they play? As long as they do it like they do it.
Also terribly exciting was that Gian Carlo from The Mink Lungs was bartending that night in the outer room, and he fixed up us with some shots and gently reminded us that The Lungs were opening for Mike Watt and the Secondmen on Friday. Like I didn’t already know.
That brings us to Mink Lungs at North 6: When I met Gian Carlo at the bar a few days earlier, I reminisced about the first time I went to see The Lungs. We had been at Miss Adena’s apartment shooting a couple of killer episodes of Rools Like Ozzy with Peter Etc of The Liquid Tapedeck. Upon exiting the L train with Rools producer Peter Bernard, I noted some very neatly chalked scrawlings that proclaimed that The Mink Lungs were playing later that evening at The Stinger. I laughed, as I was briefly in a band with Peter called Mockingbird Lungs, only I was too addlepated to remember that name, so I always called us The Heartless Ravens.
Since we wrapped up shooting Rools a little early, and we were drunk and ready to party, we stumbled over to the Stinger where we were treated to the rantings of the insane, or so it seemed. There were a few nice, hard, indie-rock type songs, and then suddenly the guitar player was doing crazy things with a very bright light bulb, while dressed in a choir robe and lipsyncing to a recording of a fundamentalist preacher, or so it seemed.
The Lungs ingest and process the excesses of the times—they sing about frat parties, Florida vacations, evangelicalism—and interpolate it with a sense of wonder, as opposed to the ironic stance we’re so used to seeing. Ironic how we’ve become bored even with our own sense of irony. I don’t mind sincerity if it’s sincere and not just a reaction to sarcasm, and that’s one of the reasons I like Mink Lungs: they bring a fresh perspective to their music.
Other weird things about Mink Lungs that you need to know: they all sing lead at various points; sometimes they switch instruments; Gian Carlo always does the lipsyncing; Miss Frosty always does the hula hooping; sometimes before doing “Demon Powers of Hell,” Gian Carlo makes someone in the audience chug a beer. There was no designated chugger that night at North 6, but there was an endless supply of very excellent grilled cheese sandwiches, hot off the grill! At this show, there were some additional theatrics during “Demon Powers.” I’ve gotten blood on me before at shows, but never have I had a cow’s heart waved in my face, nor have I ever received a grilled cheese at a show before. The Mink Lungs CD is available through arenarockrecordingco.com, and this really is a must-have item, as much as seeing the Lungs is a must-do thing. It’s much more fun than I would have expected to be a part of this thing, via a vis a Mink Lungs show.
Spel @ The Fucked Co. book release party: You know Fucked Co., right (fuckedcompany.com)? And Pud, its founder? Fucked Co. has been documenting the demise of the dotcom for several years now, acting as a news source for those looking to bail before their company goes belly up, and as a support group for those who got pink slipped. Just barely out of the other side of the bust, Pud (aka Phillip J Kaplan) has written F’ed Co, Spectacular Dot-com Flameouts, subtitle (Simon + Shuster, $18.00), a humorous (for some) look at the most ridiculous and most outrageous dot.boms. I don’t agree w/ Pud on everything (I still mourn the demise of pets.com), but I went to the party, mostly to see Spel, Pud’s classic speed metal act. Two guitarists, a drummer with two bass drums—how can you go wrong? Plus, the guitarists, neither of whom are Pud, are livin the life, dude—long hair, puffy shirts (or topless), doing all the traditional metal moves… well, it was quite a spectacle. But fun, a fun spectacle.
The Liquid Tapedeck (Fast Forward Flood) at Chashama: In a time of extreme pop-cultural excess, when even children’s entertainment is laden with images of violence and sexuality, the Deck are masters of simplicity and sincerity. When Peter Etc. ends a song with “Did that suck?,” he’s not just fishing for compliments, he’s looking to his audience for feedback and honest criticism. He actually gets angry about the goofy, sarcastic non-responses he gets sometimes on the quality control forms he hands out at the end of every show. Unlike most performers, the Deck want the audience to be an integral part of the creative experience. The audience is no longer removed from the creative experience, in fact, they are invited to participate.
“The Partridge Family didn’t play their own instruments, but The Liquid Tapedeck can’t even play themselves,” quipped Rools producer Peter Bernard after I told him about the latest TLT show at Chashama, at which the role of Math Jokes was played by Garvey and Superpant$’s Yehuda Duenyas (he’s Garvey). Yehuda had all the moves down, even though guitarist/real TLT member Peter Etc insisted that they had not been able to rehearse. Despite everything always being against them, The Liquid Tapedeck (Fast Forward Flood) has managed to not only thrive, but grow in popularity. Soon we’ll see the release of their CD, and that night at Chashama we got to hear the partially faux-Deck do some new material. The Deck’s furthered their social and political agenda through powerful rock ballads like “Neutral Lyrics Will Make Us Neutral Stars Tonite,” and “Quarantine Stupidity.” And just what is their social and political agenda? It appears to be the complete destruction of the American way. And why? Oh, Peter Etc can come up with literally 30,000 reasons.
While Yehuda posed and flexed, the real Math Jokes stewed silently in the audience, unbeknownst to all, including Mr. Etc. Finally, while Yehuda completely screwed up the Deck’s nonsensical (at least to me) “Klage” (but artfully screwed up, I might add), the real Jokes stormed the stage dramatically and commandeered the mic. I greatly enjoyed Yehuda’s masterful Math Jokes impersonation (he looked fabulous in his wrestling outfit. You don’t get to see so much of Yehuda in Placebo Sunrise), but from a musical standpoint, I was glad to see Math back. He’s got a better voice, and he is certainly more familiar with the material. After the Deck finished up, Math did some solo material, a bizarre amalgam of soulful ballad and techno, certainly more interesting than Jonny McGovern has ever done. You can dowload some Deck material at thetapedeck.com
After the Deck, we cavorted over to the Whitney @ Philip Morris to see Lapse, by Ken Nintzel, which I guess you might call some sort of demented dance holiday review, as in people danced, sort of, while describing the year through holidays. Well, let me start at the beginning, or let me start somewhere at least. A woman is in a hospital bed. It’s the beginning of the year. We see the transitions of the hospital workers through time, with time being represented by the passage of various Hallmark holidays. We got there a little late, so we started with the end of Valentine’s Day, and the got to see Ryan Bronz, aka SuperPant$, dressed as a leprechaun. The hospital room gets festooned and defestooned with decorations as the year goes on. I tend to describe events such as these as being either After Hours or Slacker moments, depending on intent and the level of sophistication and/or pretentiousness, but I came to discover during Lapse that there is a third category, at least for me--that of the PS1 moment. Perhaps a new movie needs to be made so I can make sense to more people. I don’t want to spend so much time describing intent, or describing at all, and this sort of movie/pop culture shorthand works well for most. Perhaps the only disappointment for me is that we did not get to see as much of Superpant$’s skin as we did of Garvey’s.
Troll Museum Benefit at Collective:Unconscious It’s true, you really can’t go wrong when you promise female wrestling and snacks, and St. Reverend Jen was even thoughtful enough to provide free Budwiser and Original Sin cider at the benefit for her Lower East Side Troll Museum (see the interview with the Reverend elsewhere in this issue). Many art stars were in attendance, including writer Sarah Fisch who made the ice sculpture (a bag of ice in a tub). Many other art stars were called into service, and we saw comedianDon Eng, Grindhouse Director Tom Tenney, and Touching You all passing around trays of cheese, cookies, Pop Tarts, and dots. Lloyd Floyd and Brer Brian did some tremendously wacky music, and Master Lee as Salvador Dali did magic, pulled fish from his pants, and read surrealist poetry. But the highlight of the evening was the intense wrestling match between Reverend Jen and Dakota Blue, a very big woman who looked even larger next to the lithe and elfin Jen. Dakota sprayed the audience with beer and ripped the head off a troll before tossing Jen around like a little dolly. Jen appeared later, scathed and in a neck brace, but still alive. Elves are hardy! Read more about Rev Jen at revjen.com
upcoming events: Garvey and Superpan$'s Placebo Sunrise has been extented through June 22. See above for more info. Girlbomb will be hosting another Beautiful Scene at Surf Reality on June 21 at 10 pm, featuring Bruce Smollanoff and Carmen Mofongo. And Shauna's World is back on June 28 at 10pm, also at Surf. Anti-Folk Drunkfest Braincell Genocide has moved to Collective:Unconscious (Ludlow Street), Friday, June 28. Brer Brian tells me, "We're back to playing till dawn..." These events are sick and scandalous, dawgs.