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BEING THERE: The National @ The Mann

Friday, September 28th, 2018

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Photo by MATT SHAVER

I heard “Mistaken for Strangers” on the radio when I was thirteen, and my music taste took a drastic 180 degree turn into the world of indie rock and there would be no going back to the likes of Metro Station, Say Anything or All Time Low. The National’s dreary tones and striking rhythms became the soundtrack to every rainy day and long bus ride, a space where I could wallow and brood comfortably. It only seemed fitting that the forecast predicted buckets of rain for their appearance at the Mann Center on Thursday night.

With opening sets from Phoebe Bridgers and Cat Power, the evening promised to be one of melancholia, full of existential musings and somber ballads played quietly enough to put a stadium to sleep. What I didn’t know is that Matt Berninger has a dual personality: in the studio, he is a muted silhouette, mumbling poetic sentiments in his grounded, earthy baritone. Onstage at the Mann, his performance was whiplash, swinging violently through moods with every song. He chugged wine from a red solo cup, thrashed his body, clawing at his hair in a display of inner torment. And that was only the first song.

When “Nobody Else Will Be There” was followed with two more from Sleep Well Beast, I was worried they might play the album in its entirety. I know it won a Grammy, but like every other longtime fan I wanted to hear the songs I had woven with personal memory. Anything off Trouble Will Find Me — “I Need My Girl,” “Gracless,” “Don’t Swallow The Cap” — had me in tears. Berninger writes a lot of verses about feeling awkward at parties and abandoning grand loves, capturing these small, universal experiences in lyrics drenched with imagery and weighted metaphor.
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RULE BRITANNIA: Q&A With Blur’s Graham Coxon

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Graham CoxonGRAHAM COXON PERFORMS @ THE FOUNDRY THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 27TH

mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA As the guitarist for Blur, Graham Coxon has done battle with: the Gallagher brothers, his own band, and even himself — and emerged victorious. During the Great Britpop War of the mid-90s, Blur and Oasis fought each other tooth in nail for the top of the charts and the cover of the NME, and Liam Gallagher went so far as to publicly wish that Blur frontman Damon Albarn contracted AIDS. Today, the members of Blur are lauded for making smart innovative music with a broad palette of sounds and musical styles, either as a band or as solo artists and members of various side projects, while the Gallagher brothers, together and alone, continue to crank out increasingly pale variations on the same Beatles forgeries that once took them to the Top of the Pops. Blur frontman Damon Albarn has created acclaimed music under various side project guises (The Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad & The Queen) while Graham Coxon has released eight excellent solo albums that draw inspiration from everyone from Syd Barrett and Billy Childish to Link Wray and Ennio Morricone. His latest is the soundtrack for the acclaimed Brit Netflix creep show End Of The F*cking World and it’s f*cking wonderful.

After a protracted hiatus, Blur re-convened in the 2003 to begin work on what would become Think Tank, but after a few days in the studio Coxon was shown the door by his bandmates. After a stint in rehab where he was treated for acute alcoholism, Coxon emerged a new man, his considerable creative powers intact, and eventually re-united with Blur who went on to record and release The Whip in 2015 in addition to cranking out the aforementioned solo albums and focusing on his work as a fine arts painter in the interim. Recently, we were lucky enough to get Coxon on the horn in advance of his one-man career retrospective show at The Foundry Thursday September 27th.

DISCUSSED: Syd Barrett, Sergio Leone, Sterling Morrison, veganism, Brexit, socialist book stores, Arthur Lee, Michael Caine, Ennio Morricone, Billy Childish, Village Green Preservation Society, Phil Spector, Peter Green, Bob Dylan, digital painting, John Barry, Fender Jaguars, Forever Changes, Ray Davies, Percy, Dave Davies, Pink Floyd, B.B. King, John Mayall, Clapton, and The Velvet Underground.

PHAWKER: I have a couple proper questions and then just a list of artists or composers 32add33aa14d597e42ebbd9d6abcd279that i’m sure are significant to you that I want to play word association with. Before that, I was reading you’ve become a vegan in the last six months to a year, is that correct?

GRAHAM COXON: I became a vegan about eleven months ago I guess.

PHAWKER: And that was prompted by?

GRAHAM COXON: I became a vegan because I was watching a lot of food documentaries on Netflix, I think there’s a lot of people that do that. But I was ready to go in that direction because I was getting more and more weird and angry with the food industry and the meat industry. I was thinking it was very irresponsible. So I decided I couldn’t support it anymore. It wasn’t difficult for me, I’m already weird about eggs and milk and eating chickens, I think God who would want to eat chickens, they’re weird looking. But cheese is a tough one, cheese is the cigarettes of food. My veganism is fluctuating at the moment, I’m not as strict as I used to be so I’m not sure I can call myself a vegan right now. I totally agree with the cause. I do as best as I can to be healthy and vegan.

PHAWKER: Quick take on where you stand on Brexit?

GRAHAM COXON: It’s absolutely insane, it’s a waste of time and energy. I think it’s unleashed some really unsavory feelings in people, it’s given people the opportunity to brandish a lot of hideous beliefs that were thought of as unacceptable a few years ago. It’s an interesting thing. Now people will openly be more racist and bigoted. I guess I’d rather know how people feel but just knowing that it’s out there and the deep feelings about the violent incidents, politically violent, that frightens me. Years ago, you could differ on politics and still get on fine, you could be best mates. There would be endless discussions in the pub but it wouldn’t get heated. Now you have right-wingers destroying a socialist bookstore. That’s getting odd, now you can make attacks because you look like a leftist. It’s kind of like civil war.

PHAWKER: As you’re no doubt aware, there are very similar things going on in America. It is exactly what you’re saying, attitudes we thought we’d evolved past or that at least people had the good sense not to bring up publicly because it wasn’t accepted anymore. But you said they attacked a socialist bookstore?

GRAHAM COXON: Yeah they wrecked it, ripped everything up, were violent and threatening.
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Win Tix To See The National + Cat Power!

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

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Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

If Joy Division had a horn section and beards and grew up in Cincinnati instead of Manchester, they would have been called The National and Ian Curtis would still be dead. Speaking of which, we have a pair of tix to see The National perform tomorrow night at the Mann Center’s Skyline Stage with very special guest Cat Power! To qualify to win them, you must be signed up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead), trust us you want to do this. You get first dibs on concert ticket giveaways, breaking news alerts and other assorted be-the-first-on-your-block type shit. After you sign up, send us an email at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM saying as much (or that you were already signed up) along with the correct answer to the following National trivia question: What is the name of the band that many of The National guys were in before The National? Hint: they released just ONE album called Ruther 3429. Please include your full name as it appears on your photo ID along with a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!


THE NATIONAL + CAT POWER @ THE SKYLINE STAGE @ THE MANN SEPT. 27TH

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THE DUDE STILL ABIDES: Q&A With Pete Yorn

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

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PETE YORN PERFORMS @ THE ARDMORE MUSIC HALL ON THUR. SEPTEMBER 27TH

mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA A way out West there was a fella, fella I want to tell you about, fella by the name of Pete Yorn. Now, above all things, Pete Yorn is a dude. He is, in fact, a dude’s dude. Same as there’s a man’s man and a songwriter’s songwriter, Pete Yorn is a dude’s dude. You can tell even before he opens his mouth, which is when it becomes really obvious. That hair, that denim jacket, those eyes — eyes that have searched soulfully through the racks of a thousand Jersey convenience stores for the perfect microwaveable burrito. He surfs. He lifts weights. He shoots hoops. He does bongs. And, most importantly, chicks dig him. Not just some chicks — all chicks. And he doesn’t even seem to care. That’s why he’s The Dude. That’s what you call him. That, or Duder. His Dudeness. Or El Duderino, if, you know, you’re not into the whole brevity thing. Now, when something makes The Dude happy — and, really, The Dude has so many things to be happy about these days — his voice raises an octave and he cries out, “Sweet!” He says this with a slight drawl, like a farmer calling a pig: soo-weet!

Now this story I’m about to unfold took place back in 2004, I only mention it ’cause sometimes there’s a man–I won’t say a hero, ’cause what’s a hero? But sometimes there’s a man. And I’m talkin’ about The Dude here — sometimes there’s a man who, well, he’s the man for his time’n place, he fits right in there — and that’s The Dude, in Los Angeles. They call Los Angeles the City of Angels. I didn’t find it to be that exactly, but I’ll allow as there are some nice folks there.YNAP04

R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck once mused to an interviewer that people would be surprised how far you can get in the music business by simply showing up for your appointments. The Dude always shows up. Even though he makes it look easy, The Dude works hard. Hell, he toured for 18 months straight to nudge his eminently lovable debut, musicforthemorningafter, to gold-selling status. He’s always worked hard at music, going all the way back to the time he was nine and his brother taught him how to play drums on a right-y kit, even though The Dude’s a lefty. By the time he was 13, he was playing drums and singing in a Replacements cover band called The Cheese. For its big debut, The Cheese was set to perform at the high-school talent show. With an eye for the obvious, even back then, The Dude had ‘em work up a version of the Mats’ “Talent Show.” During the dress rehearsal, members of one of the other bands, Backgammon For Troubled Youth (which is quite possibly the worst band name in the history of amateur rock, with the possible exception of The Cheese), liked what they heard and approached The Dude afterward about sitting in on vocals when they performed “Rockin’ In The Free World” at the talent show. A Neil cover? Sweet!

The rest of The Cheese weren’t quite as excited about the idea, and needless to say, they were even less so when Backgammon For Troubled Youth took first prize. But, you know, whatever. All was forgiven when The Dude would “borrow” his mom’s car for a little joyriding and everybody would pile in. Until the day he got caught.

“I was hanging out with five of my buds,” says The Dude. “I had been slowly experimenting with taking the car out-I backed over my friend’s foot once-and that night I felt extra ballsy. I ordered a pizza at the best pizza place ever — I really love pizza — this place in Parsippany, Nino’s Pizzaria on Route 46, and they didn’t deliver. I was like, ‘I’ve been driving around the neighborhood, I’m gonna go get this pizza.’ We get in the car, and ‘Stairway To Heaven’ comes on. I felt a little foreboding, but whatever, so we start driving. And then it starts snowing. I got pulled over. Cop comes up to window and says, ‘Licenseregistrationplease.”

I say, ‘I left it at home.’

He looks at me and says, ‘How old are you, son?’

I go, ‘Uh, 17?’

He goes, ‘How old are you, son?’

‘Fiftee-‘

‘How old are you, boy?’

‘Fourteen.”

Cop turns around and says to his partner, ‘We got another one of these.’ I guess they caught a lot of kids stealing their parents’ cars that night.” When The Dude got out of jail, his mom was pretty mad. Like, F-word mad. The Dude, flexing his budding dudeness, was just like, whatever. That’s why he’s The Dude.

Fast-forward a few years to freshman year at Syracuse. It’s 1992, and The Dude is living in the dorms, jamming on an acoustic guitar with his buds, staying up all night playing Nintendo, smoking bongs and spinning records by Echo & The Bunnymen, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Stone Roses, Smiths, Ride and lots and lots of R.E.M. The Dude had been a heavy-duty R.E.M. fan since back in the day, when his brother made him get in the car and listen to “Carnival Of Sorts (Box Cars),” like, super loud. “I remember I was blown away by the way it started real quiet and lo-fi, then got really big and loud,” says The Dude. “I did the same thing with my first album. I thought it would be cool.”

Freshman year was, as The Dude recalls, “a very emotional time.” He had just broken up with his high school 2903785sweetheart, his first true love, and his first taste of heartbreak. On top of that, he felt so guilty for turning his parents into empty nesters, he wrote term papers about it. “I remember thinking it was the end of an era, that things would never be the same,” he says. He wrote, like, 200 songs that year. He had just one rule for songwriting: the Five Minute Rule. If he couldn’t finish writing a song in five minutes, it wasn’t worth finishing.

After a lot of beer bongs and soul searching — then more beer bongs — The Dude discovered two things that would dramatically impact his songwriting: He loved Bruce Springsteen and hated Leonard Cohen. “One of my frat brothers was Adam Cohen, Leonard’s son,” The Dude recalls. “My buds were like, ‘That guy’s dad is this awesome singer, check it out.’ He gave me one of his dad’s later discs. I hated it, wound up throwing it out the car window.”
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BEING THERE: Hana Vu + Sales @ First Unitarian

Monday, September 24th, 2018

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Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

Whenever I walk into the basement of First Unitarian Church, I feel like I’m attending a 1970’s middle school prom—maybe it’s all the wood paneling and Canadian tuxedos. When the friend I was waiting for finally arrived, wading through the crowd armed with a can of PBR in one hand and a vape pen in the other, she complained I was difficult to pick out—“It was like Where’s Waldo, everyone here looks like you.”

Seventeen-year-old old Hana Vu [pictured, above] falls into the batch of indie artists that self-produce via Soundcloud and Bandcamp. The LA-based songwriter only recently signed to Fat Possum label Luminelle Recordings, and dropped her debut EP last spring. She gained visibility after a collaboration with Willow Smith and has spent the last few months touring with SALES. Vu embodies a moodiness  not only in the new wave grooves of her music, but in her artistic persona. She sings with an eye-rolling deadpan, and sports an impassive scowl in every photo. Onstage at the Church she brought an unexpected intensity, commanding the small room with her robust, soulful vocals over rolling drum beats and twinkling synths.

After a brief interlude, enter No Vacation, led by Sabrina Mai. “So it’s Sunday, and we’re at church,” she noted, tuning the strings of her pastel pink guitar. Their set, composed of upbeat surf pop tracks, amplified the energy in the room. They played some throwbacks like the sweetly nostalgic “August” and melodic, bopping “Beach Bummer,” as well as some new songs off their post-hiatus EP cheekily dubbed Intermission, including poignantly melancholic lead single “Yam Yam.” The set culminated in Mai crowd-surfing, held aloft by sweaty and grinning fans.

By the time SALES took the stage the room was sweltering. “We’re from Florida and we’ve never been hot like this in our whole lives,” singer Lauren Morgan joked. The three-piece radiated a lowkey vibe, their music nestling into the vein of cozy, minimalist bedroom pop. “We’re independent and self-managed and we love every minute of it,” guitarist Jordan Shih commented in introducing tracks off latest album forever & ever. Morgan’s voice is unique, breathy and dream-like over jazzy fretwork and a staccato drum beat. The crowd freaked out for classics like “Renee” and “Getting It On,” chanting lyrics in unison. For “Ivy,” the room was lit up with waving iPhone lights.

“There’s a lot of people here tonight and I’m nervous. I heard Philly’s a tough town,” Morgan admitted. Any of that nervousness evaporated during “White Jeans,” which broke down into an impromptu dance party. SALES closed with the buoyant “Chinese New Year,” a song that felt more like a beginning than ending. – MARIAH HALL

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WORTH REPEATING: ‘I Believe Anita Hill’

Monday, September 24th, 2018

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[Illustrations by ALEX FINE]

EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally published on December 7th, 2011. We are re-posting it now, for obvious reasons.

mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA In advance of her reading at the Free Library  to promote her 2011 book Reimagining Equality: Stories Of Race, Gender And Finding A Home, we were afforded the opportunity to speak with Anita Hill, professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University. Discussed: The fantasia of a Post-Racial America; the mendacity, narcissism and hypocrisy of Clarence Thomas and Herman Cain; the right wing’s racializing the blame for the 2008 financial crisis; how she passed the lie detector test Clarence Thomas refused to take; the emancipation of her grandfather from slavery; the shady backroom deal that silenced the Congressional testimony of three more women who came forward to accuse Clarence Thomas of grossly inappropriate behavior; the cruel partisan blowback and dirty tricks she weathered in the wake of her Congressional testimony that immortalized her as the Rosa Parks of sexual harassment.

PHAWKER: Your grandfather was a slave — which kind of blows my mind, that only two generations ago slavery was the law of the land in America — is this something you discovered when you were working on the book?

ANITA HILL: It blew my mind, too, to think that I’m only one generation away from slavery. If you think about that, if any of us think about it we tend to think about history as something well in the past and so remote and I guess the saying is correct, ‘History isn’t the past, it is present.’ I had heard that my grandfather had been born a slave and that his mother had been separated from his father, my great grandparents, at some point towards the end of slavery. But I had no way of documenting it until I went back and looked at the census record. We, as scientists and scholars, think we have to document everything. I had all the anecdotal information, but in fact I did wanna go back and document and find out exactly if it was true and it was true, my grandfather was born in 1864 before the slaves were officially freed. He fathered my mother when he was in his 50s and my mother was born in 1911. So he was a bit older than he was supposed to be, I guess, if I’m doing my math correctly. My mother was 45 when I was born, and that’s how what would have been a span of maybe two or three generations of slavery occurred within one generation.

PHAWKER: What do you make of black conservatives that spend most of their careers minimizing the impact of race on society in the modern age, and then when they get into trouble they immediately cry racism? I’m thinking of Clarence Thomas calling his nomination hearing a ‘high tech lynching’, I’m thinking of Herman Cain saying there’s this huge conspiracy against him to smear him – I’m curious what your take is on that.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7149/6473043579_be8eefdb36.jpgANITA HILL: I think unfortunately it does indicate a certain kind of narcissism if you will, but at the very least a double standard, that if things that happened to other people are denounced or denied as racism, any kind of thing that they perceive as being a miscarriage then is turned around and called racism. I’m not quite sure what the psychology of that is, I’m not in psychology by training, but I’m sure there are plenty who are who could tell us exactly what kind of personality creates that. But on a more serious note, I think the injury then that it does is that these people, individuals like Clarence Thomas are seen as spokespeople for African-Americans and the denial of our lived experience as African-Americans, when we do see and experience racism is really an insult to us as well as having the potential for setting all of us back, the entire society whether you’re an African-American of European-American or Latino or any other races that live in this country.

PHAWKER: Briefly, if you could confirm a few things I’ve read about the hearings, you took a polygraph test and passed it. Justice Thomas refused to take one, is that correct?

ANITA HILL: That is correct, I took a polygraph test administered by Paul Minor who was an FBI agent, a director of the FBI, not the head director but he was high up in the FBI, and who was an expert in the administration of polygraph tests.

PHAWKER: And there were three more women that were going to testify to similar behavior by Justice Thomas but as part of a back room deal between Republicans and Democrats basically the testimony was shut down at the end of your testimony, is that correct?
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BEING THERE: David Byrne @ The Mann

Friday, September 21st, 2018

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Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

David Byrne — Talking Heads architect and post-New Wave elder statesman of all things arch, artsy and oblique — is the Marcel Duchamp of 20th Century rock n’ roll, transmuting the artifacts of the mundane and the quotidian into magical charms to ward off the confusion, dread and ennui of modern life. He is, in other words, an antidote for our current season in Hell, and his arrival at the Mann last night backed by what is, for lack of a better description, The Greatest Marching Band on Earth, to deliver humane tidings of comfort and joy in the guise of high concept performance art, came not a moment too soon. For the past six months he has been touring the globe in support of his latest album, the archly titled American Utopia, and putting on what I can safely say without fear of exaggeration is, as of this writing, the Greatest Show on Earth. That is not hyperbole, if anything that is an understatement.

In terms of the setlist, the show is an ecstatic blend of modernized takes on Talking Heads quirk-pop classics and the oblique strategies and heartfelt ironies of his post-Heads solo work and collaborations with the likes of Brian Eno, Fatboy Slim and St. Vincent. Which, on paper, sounds fairly pro-forma for an artist of Byrne’s stature and vast back catalog of cutting edge work, but to see it in person, it is nothing short of jaw-dropping — a post-post-modernist miracle of human ingenuity, precision and grace. I call it MOMA-rock: A rapturous  marriage of modern dance, minimalist grandeur, shit-hot musicianship, and gorgeous gale-force chorales that sing the body electric — all performed without wires, fixed instruments, pre-recorded backing tracks or shoes. All of it cooked up by the beautiful mind of David Byrne, who, at the onset of his autumn years, with his thick shock of pure white hair, has evolved into a glorious amalgam of Mark Twain and David Lynch — simultaneously folksy and wise and kind and still barefoot in the head after all these years, displaying the tireless vitality and artistic potency of a man a third of his age.

His ongoing project, Reasons To Be Cheerful, is a multi-platform collection of stories and anecdotes shared from around the world of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, namely the kind of things that the governments, institutions and corporations that both run and ruin our lives are unwilling or unable to do: making this awful world a slightly better place than they found it, doing small-scale local-level difference-making good deeds, acts of charity and civic engagement in the areas of culture, health, science, education, economics, transportation and climate/energy. The project could just as well be called Reasons Not To Give Up On The Human Race Just Yet. While we are tallying up reasons to be cheerful, I am happy to report that, some 43 years after the inception of the Talking Heads, David Byrne still contains multitudes. Long may he weird. –JONATHAN VALANIA

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MONKEE BIZNESS: Q&A With Mike Nesmith

Friday, September 21st, 2018

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JOsh Pelta-HellaBY JOSH PELTA-HELLER Among YouTube’s vast assortment of Monkees videos is a 20-minute reel of black-and-white screen tests: the 1965 auditions of the four fresh-faced fellas who were ultimately cast for the immensely popular hit series featuring the madcap shenanigans of a hustling young American pop band struggling to succeed in sunny Southern California. The latter half of the video is a cut of scripted studio shorts, with Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith trying a couple test-roles on for size, juxtaposed with a couple other final-cut casualties that make it immediately obvious why the four of them were ultimately selected from among the hundreds of candidates. The first half of the reel features their original interviews, and offers a little more individual insight into their personalities. All four are natural foils for the talent scouts behind the camera, who come off as stiff by contrast. Groomed for theater, Jones delivers an endearing, postured performance that already feels blocked for the stage. Dolenz and Tork are both quick wits as well, and both wield acoustic guitars as props, with Tork coming off as the more nervously awkward of the two.

Mike Nesmith’s screen test, however, stands out in a different way. All four of the young stars were michael-mainmagnetic on camera, but Nesmith’s test has an edge that’s two parts intellectual-introspective and one part punk-swagger. If The Monkees were conceived as the oft-touted “American answer to the Beatles” — with Nesmith’s role die-cast in the image of George Harrison’s “dark horse” mythos — then it becomes clear why the industry execs who engineered the Monkees’ success chose Nesmith for the task. For as much as he was responsible for contributing to their on-screen charm and personality, and a seemingly outsized share of their songwriting, his frustrations and unequivocal criticisms of the project would later help to catalyze its disintegration too.

In the intervening half century, “Nez” has been credited with a truly startling number of visionary accomplishments — everything from conceiving music television long before MTV was around, to being a groundbreaking force for shaping the sound of early country-rock. Raised in Houston and Dallas, Nez brought a little twang flavor to the Monkees’ catalog, parlaying his songcraft in 1970 to the First National Band, who appear at Phoenixville’s Colonial Theater tomorrow night. It’ll mark his return to the area since enduring a serious health scare back in June, in advance of an appearance at The Keswick alongside Dolenz. Nesmith ended up checking into a local hospital that night instead, and canceling the remaining east-coast dates shortly thereafter when he learned of the sobering gravity of his situation.

“I’m doing okay!,” affirms Nesmith, when asked early in this phone interview about his recovery from a recent health scare. It’s 10 AM on the central California coast, where the singer lives, and there’s crunching. “Excuse me for eating in your ear — I’m having a piece of toast.” Asked for a recap, Nez broke it down: “They call it congestive heart failure. And so the fix for it was a quintuple bypass surgery. Both of which are sort of dire,” he explained, with a laugh to lighten the mood. “All I knew was that as I was slowly fading from consciousness, the little team of doctors were saying, ‘you’re gonna have to have this bypass, or you’re gonna die. So those are your choices.’ And I said well I choose to have the bypass!” laughing again, “that was an easy choice, basically because nobody would tell me what happened after I died.”

DISCUSSED: Monkees bizness, dope, Country Rock, Monty Python, Spock, Timothy Leary, Blake Shelton, Paul McCartney’s birthday party, Brill Building, The Stones, Ernest Tubb, Don Kirshner, The Flying Nun, Pink Floyd, Neil Diamond, Led Zeppelin, Hank Williams and congestive heart failure.

PHAWKER: It’s been 50 years since The Monkees “broke up” after the show was canceled afterNESMITH_NAT_BANDjust two seasons. You were a bit notorious in ‘68 in terms of voicing your frustrations with the project and how it was managed, ultimately making waves at a press conference when you said journalists were right to call The Monkees “fake.” That said, many other rock bands at the time — like The Beach Boys and The Byrds — had studio musicians play on their records — how did you understand or interpret the contrast between a “real” band vs. what you thought of The Monkees, at that point?

MIKE NESMITH: Well I was hired into a project that I thought I understood, which was to come and be a member of a band that was on television. And that sort of is what happened. [laughs] But what really was going on was that the television machine was grinding again, and they were building another television sitcom for its times. We were on for a couple of years and so, all of the standard operating models for building a television show that lasts decades and decades were in play. And there were certain things that had to suffer because of that level of production. It was very hard to do the shot, very hard to find the music, and there was a huge pushback from the contemporaries at the time, who said “this is not a real band,” to which I replied, “I’ll say! It’s a television show!” And the fact that you would go away from it as a band like any other band is a mistake. It’s an error in judgement. It’s a television show. And it you think about it, it’s a good television show! It’s got comedians and I mean, at the time — with no pun intended — the holy grail of televised comedy for me was Monty Python. And “The Monkees,” they — “they” being the writers, and the people who got together to make the show — had Python as kind of a holy grail, too. They were saying we want something funny like this, we want it to ride on the backs of the music, and we can do that! We can make the music, we can create the band, we can create the stories and all that — and for me that’s all fair. You know, that was part of what you do as an actor and as an artist and so forth. So, I was fine with it. It wasn’t until there was this huge pushback, that was so surprising to me, that I began to do double-duty in investigating, you know, why are people so upset about the fact that these records are recorded, and not made by the fictional band that lives on television? That’s not a real band, the real band hasn’t even come to life yet.

And I was very gratified when the real band did come to life! It happened on the edge of a stage, I think we might’ve been in Seattle or someplace on the west coast. I was walking on stage, and a reporter, perhaps — somebody with a need and a right to know — came up and said, “so, I understand The Monkees are not a real band, and that you guys can’t play. So what are you gonna do for this show?” And I said well that’s nonsense. I mean you see me standing here with my guitar slung over my shoulder, and the costumes to go and play in the band on the stage — if I can’t play and the other guys can’t play, what are we gonna do? [laughs] I’m gonna just stand up there and bring in the adoration? It was to deliver the music on some level. I mean, as a group itself, Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter were really like a garage band. And as a garage band we acquitted ourselves particularly well, and the television show fit right into that. Because the television show was about a band that was a garage band that was trying to make it!

So in some strange way, lines crossed — not lines of war, but lines of confusion about a conceptual base — so people lined up on either side of those lines. “Oh, that’s not a real show,” you know, “Sally Field can’t really fly.” I think Micky started using [Leonard] Nimoy as a paradigm. And you know, you can kinda pick anything you want to outta television, television’s kinda like the Sunday funnies: some of it’s really really good, and some of it’s not so much. And I felt in terms of where “The Monkees” fit, we were pretty good! It was a pretty good show, you know. But as we know, the people that it resonated with were young. So the place it landed, the soil it was potted in, were the 8- and 9-year-olds. I don’t think the producers ever thought that the show would skew that young. I certainly never did. But then I never thought about it! I thought, well, I’m just being hired to play a part and play music and so forth, and I’ve got the chance of a lifetime — I shouldn’t do anything to screw this up!NESMITH_NAT_BAND

PHAWKER: You left the group in ‘68, and among your primary complaints was that The Monkees’ management often prevented you from playing your own music, or even entertaining the idea that your original work should be included on the Monkees’ records or issued as singles. Still, around that time The Monkees’ popularity was at a fever pitch, and you as individual artists maybe had started to have the cachet and the leverage to have been able to push more to hoist your own flags on that battle, and in fact with songs like “Tapioca Tundra” and “Shorty Blackwell,” you did start to do that. So, why leave then, I wonder, right when you were able to execute your own vision more often?

MIKE NESMITH: Well, first of all, I think a lot of what you’re saying there is assumptions, and it’s apocryphal. We never really got into a position where we were controlling anything. What we had, at the time — I wrote about this, in my book — was “the Queen’s veto”: all we could do was blow up the ship that we were on, you know what I mean, it wasn’t like we were skilled sailors, we were just along for the ride, so to blow up the boat woulda been stupid. And we did not do that. If you read deep — and if it’s of any interest people can read deep — about, you know, what were the internal dramas and how were they handled, and so forth, and you see pretty quickly, no, we didn’t do anything. Micky sang the songs they asked him to sing, and I submitted the songs that I had written, and was not surprised that they were rejected. And I never got onto a place where I thought to myself, I wanna grab control of this phenomenon and provide the music for it, and the creative direction and everything. All those things came along later, as part of — I guess it was publicity, of some kind — or some sort of reportage to give the four of us a bad name and give the producers at the Brill Building a good name. The guy who was in charge of the music, Don Kirshner, continued to point to himself as a reference standard for what constituted a hit record, and he said “I can identify a hit from miles away, and I know when they happen.” And he took a lot of credit for what happened with The Monkees, and he for some reason felt constrained to continue to prove that. But that was never on my agenda, my agenda was to make music, and to play who would ask me.
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LADYSMITH MAU MAU: Q&A W/ tUnE yArDs

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

tUnE-yArDs copy

Artwork courtesy of KALTBLUT

EDITOR’S NOTE: This Q&A originally published on May 9, 2018

BRIAN_HOWARD_BYLINERBY BRIAN HOWARD When tUnE-yArDs, the musical project of Merril Garbus, broke out in 2011 with the mesmerizing album w h o k i l l— a jittery, skronking mash up of acoustic and electronic, funk, soul and Afro-pop—it was a revelation. It felt especially fresh, making all the year-end lists, and topping the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop poll. But a lot has changed in the world since then, and a white woman from New England playing African beats is received a little differently now. In the intervening years, Garbus has weathered criticism for her liberal cribbing from the Afro-pop songbook she so loves, and on her new, dance-music-inspired album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, addresses many of those issues head-on. In interviews ahead of the release, Garbus has talked a lot about the personal work she’s engaged in, grappling with issues of privilege, appropriation, her own whiteness, and what they mean in her life and in her music. The new record feels very much the work of a person in the depths of some tough self-analysis. For a record with such infectious grooves, the ride gets more than a little bumpy—appropriately, given the odd times we’re living in. Oakland-based Garbus and bandmate Nate Brenner hit Union Transfer on Thursday. We caught up with Garbus and asked her about the right way to pay homage to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, touring through Trump country, how to evolve and dancing at the end of the world. We caught up with Garbus the morning after Game 3 of the Sixers/Miami Heat series. Turns out she’s an NBA fan.

MERRILL GARBUS: Did the 76ers win?

PHAWKER: We did win, yeah!

MERRILL GARBUS: [laughing] Congratulations!

PHAWKER: Thank you! Yeah, Joel Embiid returned to the lineup, so that was very… we’re all really excited about that. We missed him. Are you a basketball fan?

MERRILL GARBUS: I am, yeah. We’ve been watching all that lately.

PHAWKER: Who’s your team?

MERRILL GARBUS: The Warriors. I mean it’s so unlike me not to root for the underdog, but I’ve lived here long enough that, you know, I saw them come up from nothing to champions, so yeah… Still a Warrior’s fan. Nate’s a Pacer’s fan, Indiana, so I’m also a secret Pacers fan.

PHAWKER: There’s an off-key piano note within the first few seconds of “Heart Attack,” the very first song on the new album; that strikes me as significant. That note seems to be saying quite a bit. I w-h-o-k-i-l-lwas hoping you could talk a bit about what it means, both to the record and maybe about life right now.

MERRILL GARBUS: Thank you for noticing that. [laughing] It’s funny ‘cause I think “Heart Attack” was one of those tunes that, in my struggle to understand and to eventually embrace four-on-the-floor dance music, it was a kind of song that I hadn’t written before, and I guess the “wrong note” is the Tune-Yards-y part, the dissonant part. What I don’t appreciate about a lot of other pop music is… there’s no dissonance, there’s a kind of, “Everything is okay. Everything’s rosy in here” [vibe] but everything is not okay. I love when music reflects that. I think that certainly there’s a lot of contemporary pop—specifically hip-hop and R&B music that does have those dissonant moments in it. But, thanks for bringing attention to it, because I think you’re right. We were starting the album with a song that was like the most generic lyrically. It’s the least pointed. It could be about the end of a relationship. It could be about the world. It could be about anything—and I want it to be that way for people. But the dissonant note felt really important so that it wasn’t just a generic candy pop tune.

PHAWKER: On the song “Coast to Coast” you seem to be grappling pretty openly with the divided country we find ourselves in right now. There’s fear in there. There’s what feels like an army marching, and then there’s the line “We let freedom ring, but whose freedom?” There’s a lot of disillusionment in the world right now, and I feel like there’s a bit of that in the song, as well. How do you think we make sure everyone’s freedom rings going forward?

MERRILL GARBUS: Work at it really hard. I was listening to this radio show on climate change last night as I was driving home—you know, driving home, burning fossil fuel—and one of the points that Paul Ehrlich—he’s the author of the 1968 book Population Bomb—suggested was that we actually have to evolve in order to make it, like, we have to evolve into organisms that are not so sight-oriented because we can’t always visually see the danger of climate change. I think we have to evolve to withstand discomfort a lot more. I feel pessimistic about our capacity as humans to evolve on purpose. We might be forced to evolve. We have to work really hard on ourselves and also on our society. I think the optimistic part is that a lot of people have taken that work on—as I’ve heard said around here in activist circles, “Get in where you fit in.” Do the things that feel the most accessible to you and that you’re the most passionate about, and then work on them. And a whole lot more listening. I think we need to be ready to listen to what we might not want to hear.

PHAWKER: On on the song “ABC 123” there’s that line “Sitting in the middle of the sixth extinction.” There are moments in the song NIKKI NACKwhere there’s this sense of the world is burning, so we might as well dance, and other moments where the uplift feels like a rallying cry. I read a story about how you were DJing the night of the election, and I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about dancing and writing dance music as the world is crumbling.

MERRILL GARBUS: The world is crumbling, to me, from my perspective, but that’s a very limited perspective, an American, Western and white American perspective that we… you know, I’m saying “us,” as if you’re like me, but I don’t know; so I’m going to say “us” as in NPR listeners and climate change believers, scientists. There is this perspective that I just assumed is a monolithic perspective. Something that was really illuminating to me around the election, I was doing a lot of racial justice work and just coming to understand that there are a lot of people who feel like the world has been crumbling for a long time. There are a lot of people who have been dealing with their lives feeling threatened on a daily basis for a very long time. So it opens this window for me that maybe I don’t know everything. I have a really deep belief that it’s healing and joy and pleasure that will give us the tools to be resilient in these times… like, no matter what, we have to keep celebrating what we have; if we don’t celebrate what we have, we’ll take it for granted. If I don’t celebrate life, then I’ll take life for granted.

PHAWKER: There’s a line in “Who Are You?” that really struck a chord with me. It’s that line “Communion is old, but what makes a community whole.” I grew up Catholic, and I stopped practicing the moment I went to college. And now I’m fortysomething with a one-year-old daughter, and even though religion still doesn’t resonate with me, I find myself wistful for the idea of having a place where everyone in the community goes once a week, to see people that you don’t see in your day-to-day life. Is that the idea behind that line? And if so, what do you think is or could be a replacement for that sort of meeting place in a world where there’s a lot of disconnect in our communities?

MERRILL GARBUS: It feels like to me like it’s an opportunity lost in terms of organized religion. There’s not a whole lot of trust in organized religion anymore, at least in many parts of the world. There’s all the blind trust in it for some other people. I’m really wondering about that, because I think I’ve definitely found it somewhat in organizing in activist circles. You know, like I was really glad to take these workshops in the buddhist community about privilege… white privilege and about whiteness and how it separates us.

PHAWKER: So in the songs “Then Is Now” and “Colonizer” and in some others as well, you address the kind of tricky theme of cultural appropriation, which is something you’ve confronted in your own back catalog. W h o k i l l owes quite a bit to African musical traditions, and it’s clearly music that appeals to you. How have you come to confront influence in your songwriting? Do you find yourself editing yourself if you feel like you’re using something that isn’t yours to use?

MERRILL GARBUS: I think it’s a big old question mark. By which I mean, I don’t think there are answers necessarily, but I do think that there are real things to consider. For instance, I asked myself, ‘How can I give credit where credit is due? How can I pass the mic?’ as in, ‘How can I draw attention to people who are not often given opportunities in this world?’, which is really, you know, we are living in white supremacy. It sounds so drastic, I think, sometimes, to say it that way, but it’s just true. So, how do I pass the mic to others who don’t usually get the mic? And then financially, you know, I lifted something from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which felt very karmic somehow, being influenced by Paul Simon and Graceland. The line “Reveal yourself, reveal yourself” on “Private Life,” comes right from their song “King of Kings.” Just tune-yards-i-can-feel-you-creep-into-my-private-life-artworkto credit them and to pay them royalties felt like doing it the right way. That’s the right way. But I feel like cultural appropriation just is. It’s happening all the time. Jack White doesn’t talk a lot about cultural appropriation, but he’s the total cultural appropriator,. And he has his own way of paying homage, but I find him problematic at times, too. I find Justin Timberlake problematic, and I love his music. So, I think we as white musicians, who are influenced by black music, we are problematic. And as with everything having to do with culture and race and society, there’s no real clear or clean answer, but I really do believe that there is intention, and there is being courageous, and there is letting go of our egos enough to admit when we’re wrong, or when we’re causing harm.

PHAWKER: What are some examples ways that you’ve passed the mic?

MERRILL GARBUS: One is this radio show that I do, C.L.A.W., where I get to interview women and play the music of female-identifying producers and rappers. I feel like rap is an art form that has always been exactly that: people taking the mic and expressing their truths, and that was why this particular project was really fulfilling to me. And I would say also in who we choose to amplify, bringing them on the road with us. … An important motivation for me is to create more connections and relationships with musicians who are different than me and are telling different stories than me. Music is this incredible opportunity for that because musicians have music in common, and that can be a real lubricant for some of these really difficult conversations that I think we do need to have.

PHAWKER: I noticed there are a lot of dates on your tour that are in what I guess you would call “red states.” Was that intentional? A little “coastal elite” bubble bursting?

MERRILL GARBUS: No, it wasn’t… I mean we always try to get to as much of the country as we can. So I hadn’t really thought about it that way. But maybe that’s why the ticket sales are so low in Houston [laughs]. Nate’s from Indiana, and I’ve got a lot of family in Kentucky. I’ve always had a complicated attitude towards liberal and conservative, just because of where I come from. I really do believe that the majority of human beings want the same thing. We want peace, and we want shelter. And we want to be fed, and we want safety for our loved ones. Something that we’ve always loved doing, and always tried to do is not just be New York and L.A., even though, absolutely that’s where our largest fans are, on the coasts. We gotta talk to each other, so that means bringing California to Nebraska.

TUNE-YARDS + DAVID BYRNED @ MANN CENTER THUR. SEPTEMBER 20th 8PM

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GIMME FICTION: Being Gay At Giant

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

bananas2WARNING: Some profanity, adult themes and references to human sexuality

BY
TONY CARO

It was good, but it just wasn’t doing it for me. I grabbed some tissues and wiped the lotion off my hand. None of these thumbnails looked interesting: a chick with busty tits getting banged from behind. No. Two chicks making out with a random guy standing beside them. Nope. A guy and a girl getting frisky by a pool…interesting.

I clicked on the link, and, after wading through many unavoidable ads, I started lotioning back up. It was hot as they bathed in the sun by the pool, and then as they made out. But soon she was bent over a beach chair taking it from behind, and I was left with a shot of just her jiggling boobs and an obviously fake expression. My eyes worked their way down to a GIF at the bottom corner of the screen of a man with an enormous dick masturbating, and I kept going.

But after a minute or two, I ripped my headphones off, letting them land on my keyboard. I was just jerking off to a dude! I thought. What the fuck?..but it was working…I clicked on the man to see his video, but his link just led me through a series of unending ads that couldn’t be closed, so I had to turn off my computer. While waiting for it to restart, I decided I needed to go for a walk to think about things, so I got dressed and left.

    It only took a few days until I was jerking it to dudes exclusively. It became clear that this was not the first time I felt attracted to another man, or the first time my eyes were drawn to a man in a porno, but rather it had been the first time I acknowledged it. A whole history of relationships in the past all started making sense, like why I had a girlfriend for most of 7th grade but we had never kissed, and I had barely noticed.

I installed Grindr and browsed the selection of nearby gays. I didn’t see anyone I knew, but most of the men on here were older than I was. Unlike nearly all the other profiles on the app, mine didn’t have a picture, which I was reminded of when the messages I sent were returned with, “pic?” I wanted to send one, but I didn’t want to be recognized. Still, I looked at the other gays often. I had a non-ugly selfie saved on my phone for when I finally decided to send it.

______

After school, I walked straight to my cashier job at Giant. I had worked there as a bagger for about a year before they promoted me on my 16th birthday. There weren’t many customers today. I rested over my register with my chin on my arms. Some coworkers were chatting from the only other register open, about three lanes down, but I was zoned out. It wasn’t until I heard Jake say, “I’m bisexual!” to our floor manager, Ashley, with a laugh that I sprung up and looked over, which caught his attention. I didn’t know what to do, so I just smiled, and he smiled back. He whispered something to Ashley and they both giggled, before he walked over to my register.

“Are you bi?” he asked.

My heart skipped a beat. There was no one else around except Ashley who could definitely still hear us. Jake was a few years older than me, his hair was reddish brown, his eyes blue, and his freckles cute. “Uh…I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” he said, still as loud as his normal, loud tone.

I looked around again to see who else could hear our conversation: nobody but Ashley, who was now pretending to be busy cleaning, and possibly an old man browsing cereals. “I haven’t really come out,” I said.

“But you are bi?” Jake pulled out his flip phone and started doing something on it.

“Probably more gay than bi,” I said. Jake was chewing gum, and he had a tongue piercing that I’d never noticed before. I’d always wanted an earring and a tattoo, but I was too afraid of attempting to pull off an earring and too young to get a tattoo.

“When do you get off work?” he asked.

“Seven.”

“I’m done at 7:30. Would you want to hang out after work?”

“Yeah, sure!” I said, too excited for my own taste, but I couldn’t help it. This hot, real guy had just asked me out!

Jake gave me his number by asking for mine and texting me a “Hey” with a smiley face. We talked and blushed and smiled for few minutes, but then the customers starting flooding back into our lanes again, so we texted each other instead.

I stayed in the break room after my shift until his ended. My walk home from work was only a few streets, and my mom noticed that I hadn’t come home. She texted me, but I continued replying to Jake instead. His house wasn’t far away so we walked there from work. I never knew that he smoked cigarettes. He mentioned that he moved here not long ago, and that he lived with his aunt. I mentioned that my favorite show was American Idol, and he told me that he had auditioned for American Idol, and although he didn’t make it, he still got to meet Simon Cowell, his favorite judge (mine was Randy Jackson). I asked him when he auditioned and he said last summer, which I thought was weird, since I thought Simon had left the show a couple years ago. I asked him what city he auditioned in, but he didn’t remember.
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Win Tix To See David Byrne @ The Mann Tomorrow

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

David_Byrne_American_Utopia_Tour_Poster

 

David Byrne — post-New Wave elder statesman of all things arch, artsy, affected and oblique — is the Marcel Duchamp of 20th Century rock n’ roll, transmuting the artifacts of the mundane and the quotidian into magical charms to ward off the confusion, dread and ennui of modern life. That was/is his great trick: embracing weirdness as the baseline of the new normal, and in the process making the avant-garde danceable while convincing us all to stop trying to make sense of the senselessness swirling all around us. Message: The WTF-ness of The Now? Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same. As. It. Ever. Was.

Reviews of his ongoing America Utopia tour describe a dazzling blend of Talking Heads quirk-pop classics and the oblique strategies and sincere ironies of his post-Heads solo work and collaborations with the likes of Brian Eno, Fatboy Slim and St. Vincent. He plays the Mann tomorrow night, with tUnE-yArDs opening, and we have a pair of tix to give away to the 27th Phawker reader to email us as Phawker66@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following David Byrne trivia question: What year did David Byrne become an American citizen? Put the words ONCE IN A LIFETIME in the subject line and include your full name as it appears on your photo ID plus a mobile number for confirmation. NOTE: To qualify to win, you must be signed up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! Good luck and godspeed!

DAVID BYRNE + TUNE-YARDS @ THE MANN CENTER THUR. SEPT. 20TH

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BEING THERE: Car Seat Headrest @ UT

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Car_Seat_Headrest_by_Matt_Shaver

Photo by MATT SHAVER

I first heard Car Seat Headrest last spring, driving through Southwestern Pennsylvania mountain roads with my mom, on Jenny Eliscu’s satellite radio show. As Will Toledo [pictured, above] alternately screamed and spoke the lyrics of “Bodys” in a matter-of-fact tone, my mom laughed out loud, saying “What is this depressing shit you listen to?” Typical baby boomer parent, unable to understand my millennial malaise.

Six months later, I look up at Toledo on the stage of Union Transfer as he sings that same song off of the 2018 re-release of his 2011 DIY triumph, Twin Fantasy, rocking a tight-fitting black top with black harem pants, looking like some kind of indie-rock genie. Since climbing to the mainstream from that Bandcamp breakthrough seven years ago, he’s become an unfiltered voice for the often-inexplicable anxiety and depression my generation feels every day. And in the throbbing chorus of this second song of the night, Toledo gave us a way to clear out those tensions through the exact kind of dancing he sings about in it.

Car Seat Headrest started the set with an aggressive cover of Lou Reed’s “Waves of Fear,” before plunging into the mosh-pit-inducing “Bodys,” which careened right into Teens of Denial’s stop-start hit “Fill in the Blank,” all of which sang the body electric and turned the sold out crowd into a writhing throng of interpretative dance. Car Seat’s touring lineup includes the three members of the Naked Giants, who opened the show, freeing up Toledo from guitar duty to lead said dancing and try out some artsy moves that only a lanky white dude in flowy pants could make comfortably awkward. Despite playing for a total of nearly 90 minutes, the band performed only thirteen songs, splicing in “America (Never Been)” from 2014’s How to Leave Town and a mashup of Teens of Style’s “Something Soon” with a cover of Neil Young’s “Powderfinger.”

Toledo’s monotone delivery of the deeply emotional poetry behind Car Seat Headrest is only half of the band’s appeal to so many young people right now. These epic songs, which can span anywhere from three to thirteen minutes in length, stretch into visceral noise rock solos between the verses, exorcising the loneliness and depression they speak of in a cleansing wave of still-catchy distortion – the kind that kept Toledo shaking his hips all night. A big part of the cultic allure of Car Seat Headrest is the band’s underdog success story, and the self-empowerment that comes from seeing someone as messed up in the head as the rest of us rocking hard in front of thousands.

In typical twenty-first century style, CSH fans have discovered each other in online forums, finding common ground between their private narratives and Toledo’s introspective confessionals re: drugs, relationships, and the weird norms of social settings. Hence the proliferation of Will Toledo look-alikes who turn up at his shows to touch the hem of his garment. But despite their obvious devotion, Toledo kept his crowd interactions brief, maintaining a stoic demeanor for the majority of the performance. That is, until the band played “Destroyed By Hippie Powers,” and the drummer plucked a kid out from the frenzied crowd to play cowbell onstage. He stood miles below the band in height, slamming the hunk of metal with a drumstick with a fervor that pushed him ahead of the beat, his dad barging through the field of drunken adolescents in an attempt to film the whole thing.

Afterwards, the band members shot each other amused glances of wide-eyed disbelief, making guesses about the precocious child’s age in stuttered half-sentences. It was then that the whole room seemed to realize just how far this music has travelled across time and space in the last eight years, from the backseat of a high school car in the leafy exurbs of the nation’s capital to the hearts and minds of the next generation at a sold-out show in Philadelphia. And in this brief and shining moment, Toledo couldn’t help but smile.

Don Babylon, a trio of new Philadelphians, opened the show with a cross between Slim Harpo, Johnny Cash, and Kurt Cobain, seamlessly weaving the styles and tropes of those legends into original work. Next came the Naked Giants who also traffic in this kind of rockist genre-blending, though they lean more heavily on psychedelia and surf rock, with a hint of Led-Zeppelin-like guitar heroics as their fingers cascaded up and down the necks of their instruments. – SOPHIE BURKHOLDER

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GEEK SQUAD: What’s Not To Love About The Captain Marvel Trailer That Just Dropped?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

So, the Captain Marvel trailer finally dropped. First of all, seeing Brie Larson crash land on Earth and Samuel L Jackson narrate the first half of the trailer completely sells the film — it’s set-in-the-’90s trailer and jammed pack with action scenes. Captain Marvel is such a complicated character that giving a detailed history will be exhausting and pointless given that the film is invariably going to streamline her sprawling back story to avoid forcing audiences to juggle alien sleeper agents, cosmic spaceship accidents that merged an alien DNA with a human, children that were genetically aged, X-Men member Rogue stealing her powers and the power of a white star being absorbed by the heroes. I have no idea exactly what Marvel Studios is going to give us. I am not even sure if this Captain Marvel grew up on Earth or not. What we do know is that Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel is a soldier stuck in a war between the alien Kree and the Skrull. Marvel movie fans might remember the usually-blue Kree from their appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy. Outside of that we get glimpses of Captain Marvel flying through space, flexing her superpowers, and punching an old woman in the face (not to worry, I am 95% sure she’s an alien shapeshifter). But the energy in the trailer is awesome. This feels like a ‘90s Will Smith movie but with the Academy Award winning Brie Larson in the starring role. Samuel L Jackson is playing a young, two-eyed Nick Fury who has to deal with Carol Danvers’ private property damaging superhero battles and wicked barbs at least 10 years before he deals with Tony Stark. I am SO ready to see this. – RICHARD SUPLEE

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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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