Jeremy Gordon spends some time with Radiohead’s trippy new PolyFauna app: “The average time a fan spends bothering with it may depend on whether they’re able to get stoned without ruining their day.”
Benefits of working from home: Being able to mess with this without looking like an asshole as I spin around, never stopping.
Well, this was a surprise.
I was coming out of indie rock and I was a little bit disillusioned by things like obscure 7”s—it seemed a little bit like bullshit. I’d been into really indie stuff like Sebadoh, and it was like, ‘You know, this is ultimately kind of unfulfilling compared to seeing Springsteen and feeling a part of something awesome.’ —
Here’s my story on The Hold Steady’s 10th Anniversary Show.
My other favorite quote, which is and oldie but a goodie: “…we’re Midwestern men. We suffer and celebrate in silence.”
This week you get a 2-for-1 Jeremys-on-Hold Steady feels special.
(Source: pitchfork, via jeremydlarson)
I quit. At a lot of things, generally, but also this.
In the fall of 2008 Jared and I were supposed to see the Hold Steady play in London, but as soon as we bought tickets the tour was canceled because Tad Kubler got pancreatitis from drinking too much. They rescheduled everything for a few months later, but the new London show was two days after we’d be flying back to America. I was at the point in my Hold Steady fandom where this just couldn’t be, so I looked at the itinerary and found that there was going to be a show in Oxford, which was only a few hours away the weekend before all of our final papers were due.
We found out that you could get to Oxford by taking something advertised as the “Oxford Tube” so imagine our surprise when we turned up at a bus depot. It was fine, though: I’d prepared a pair of two liter bottles of some absolutely disgusting alcohol cocktail, taking two or three different kinds of excess liquor floating around my kitchen and combining it with some super sugary fruit juice. Total poison, but drinking and seeing the Hold Steady was what we did. So we got on this train-turned-bus to a city where we’d never been with nothing but alcohol and printed out Mapquest directions and proceeded to get giggly-stupid-drunk over the next few hours. It ended up dropping us off in the middle of a labyrinthine city square with about eight streets poking in different directions. Somehow, we picked the right one and headed toward the club. When we got in, we took some much-needed leaks and settled into the crowd after getting new drinks.
The Hold Steady came on about five minutes after we got inside the audience, timing which I’ve never been able to replicate at shows where I wasn’t taking a two-hour bus to get to. I have been to shows 10 minutes walking from my house and still managed to get there an hour and a half too early. But they were right on time and they were amazing—we were properly lit, and bounced around the front with British kids (Oxford has a somewhat well-known university nearby) who were just so excited to hear this Midwestern band sing. The set list wasn’t perfect—no “Stuck Between Stations” or “The Swish” or “Killer Parties”—but the Hold Steady were so deep and good at that point it didn’t matter. When they finished the encore, the crowd stood there for 15 minutes afterwards chanting the refrain at the end of “Slapped Actress” until the lights went on. Those of us who were there talked about what songs we would’ve liked to have heard. I took a photo of the set list from the kid who’d blissfully snagged it.
Jared and I got Subway and headed back to the bus stop to wait for the ride back to London. I remember we sat at the front of the nearly empty second level—it was a double decker—and watched the darkened English countryside whizz by while trying not to let our drunks get the best of us. I think Jared may have actually been studying from a notebook he’d brought along. Neither of us said maybe ten sentences the entire two hours back. When I settled in the next day, I wrote a very bad paper about geopolitics for my only grade in a class that was fortunately pass-fail.
This weekend I wrote something about the Hold Steady for Noisey that was hard to get out. It started out as a personal essay about a band that I used to love and became this sort of referendum on their worth in the Rock Canon—a subject I have absolutely no interest in parsing because I know what they meant to my life. They were the type of band I’d go anywhere to see, even if I might wake up hungover on the wrong side of England.
Visually, Pavement were slacker corpses being pulled by puppet strings on stage. They were like bloated Elvis, playing in gross parody of their original appeal, an entire crowd of cool dads and college girls listlessly cheering every time Stephen Malkmus flipped his hair or played his guitar behind his back like Hendrix. It was a sloppy, fuzzy, nostalgic modern version of Genesis, filled with limp one-note guitar solos and clean drum fills, an alt Ravinia, a scene the millennials can look forward to when the Postal Service reunite in 2025. God, I hope I never pay $50 to see them. They didn’t play a single inspired note, and it was awesome. I was scoffing every time a group of fists would shoot up next to us at the third, fifth, sixth indistinguishable mid-tempo alternative guitar riff that would kick up and swaying in the fading light to a sluggy version of “Trigger Cut,” humming the melody to the words I didn’t know. It was both deeply embarrassing and very moving to be there. Around us, an immobile crowd sang along in earnest reliving their college years, their primes, their sloppy first kisses at a concert… and the guys in Pavement kept on tuning after every song, only in it for the money, gloriously apathetic about giving a fuck. They did “Frontwards” and it was perfect. They opened with “Cut Your Hair” which seemed like an eff you to the casual fans. I bet when they finished, Malkmus called his kids at home, and they went to sleep by midnight. It was the best concert I ever left disappointed.
This was one of the things I was most curious about, seeing Pavement at the Pitchfork Music Festival: how would a band known for its particular sloppy who-cares grace read when presented to young people as some important, legendary act? This paragraph here captures that, although I feel compelled to make one correction: their show last night wasn’t quite “in gross parody of their original appeal” — it was their original appeal, sorta. The last time I saw them, we were excited to see how many songs they’d have to stop and start over, and whether they’d get into any arguments. (I think the result was “five” and “subtle eyerolling between Malkmus and Stairs.”) And part of why this mattered was that it was coded into the songs themselves: an efficient performance of “Silence Kit” or “Grounded” would be sort of un-beautiful, you know?
This just happens to be an appeal that works very differently when, instead of being the young insouciant Corgan-baiters, you’re presented to a 2010 indie-festival audience as some sort of classic, a best thing carried forward. This is a funny thing about a lot of indie revivalism, whether of bands or just of styles, and it’s something I plan on writing more about soon — often it means putting spotlights and grand attention on music that wasn’t necessarily built to exist in that way, music whose function was to slink around the light, or be sarcastic about the light, or to light up private spaces. The band seen last night has an ethos that used to speak really beautifully, really eloquently; but the world changes, and whatnot, and some percentage of that ethos is lost in translation, points different places and means different things than it originally did, and one thing about music is that it’s the rare listener who cares to have someone explain to them, like a high-school Shakespeare unit, how something used to signify in amazing ways that aren’t so immediately clear anymore.
sometimes i find myself digging through old bookmark files - i don’t bookmark websites like normal people, i keep .txt files for them to avoid getting knocked by programs that track that sort of thing (don’t give me that look), but this does have a knock-on effect of me wondering just what the heck i was trying to tell myself, later, if i’ve forgotten to leave a note beside it, and since this was before i wanted to even have a blog on this website, it went into the notes, accordingly - just to note that this is still one of my favorite pieces of music criticism on tumblr. yes. this one. (perhaps somewhere close on the runner-up list is this one, also in bookmarks, although that one’s appeal is more prescriptive - the sort of “some bullshitters on this website would do well to have this thing plugged up their donut more often” - whereas i feel happier about this one. this one’s pleasures are descriptive; and those satisfactions are permanent.) there is so much that is so important to me here.
(to be clear, i was reminded of this by tumblr user comradeocean asking me about something wrt class anxiety and vampire weekend which i was pretty sure was something tumblr user agrammar wrote so i went hunting through the bookmarks but didn’t find it because i didn’t save it because woe, i don’t much like vampire weekend for the same reasons i don’t much like community for the same reasons i don’t much like certain kinds of self-expression which is that i shared a room with a guy for three weeks once and ever since i have soured on certain kinds of people as people i like, regardless of my respect of their talent &c. i can candy-coat it how i like, and will, i can be far more articulate and persuasive than that, but really, the root of my dislike began there and must at least be acknowledged somewhere in public. thus: now i am digging, and digging also means pondering, and pondering means “you had those saved, past me: why?” if anyone would like to save me from what may be a wild goose chase, though, please, by all means.)
This was reblogged tonight, and it was nice to read again/think about. The summer of 2010 was so long ago, kind of!
The name Road Warriors actually came from the movie ‘Road Warrior.’ — a member of the famed wrestling tag team, the Road Warriors