Lucid Culture


How the Other Half Lives, Part 1

Driven with the sheer obsessiveness of a former college radio dj who can’t stand to be out of the loop, we’re on a mission to see how the other half lives. As you can see from our monthly NYC live music calendar, there are tons of great shows going on all over town. But from week to week, you’ll notice that we haven’t been listing much rock music, because most of what we see SUCKS.

In an ongoing effort to determine if we’re A) completely out of the loop or B) on to something, a decision was made to go through the entire April calendar at two of New York’s best venues, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn (no, NOT Bowery Ballroom and Luna Lounge – you already know the bands who play there). Both of the clubs we chose are professionally staffed, have excellent sound, and frequently good shows: we’ve reviewed several shows at each venue.

Unfortunately, part one of this experiment yielded decidedly horrible results: either this April is a particularly bad month, or else things are really as dead as we thought they were in the New York rock world. The few good bands we ran across are currently listed in our March/April calendar. Because no press is worse than bad press, we decided not to identify any of the others. Here’s the bands listed as playing next month at club #1:

1. Silly New Zealand disco-pop

2. A dorky, awkward, minimalist Japanese singer-songwriter

3. More lame, geeky dork-pop, this time from Virginia

4. Even more dorks, this time from San Francisco, who call themselves psychedelic/Americana/tropical when they’re really just dilettantes who can’t play their instruments or sing.

5. A fussy, random, nonsensical project involving computers and loops

6. Good Charlotte wannabes playing generically cheery, conformist shopping mall punk-pop. At least they can play their instruments.

7. Female-fronted Good Charlotte wannabes. At least they’re an original kind of ripoff.

8. Ramones wannabes from Wyoming with really awful lyrics and a singer who sounds like he’s about eleven.

9. Really horrible twee indie rock from Boston: childish lyrics and dorky off-key boy/girl vocals

10. Noisy, tuneless Gainesville, Florida indie rock: fast beats, loud lo-fi guitars

11. Grating, unmelodic, slow gothcore from Australia

12. A non-musical act, somebody who plugs in his ipod and then dances around

13. Loud, annoying, industrial noise – hard to tell if they’re using instruments or computers. It’s billed as “psychedelia.”

14. More random industrial noise, probably more annoying the more it’s amplified

15. Tuneless lo-fi mumblecore from Purchase, NY

16. A schizophrenic indie band from Richmond who can’t decide whether they’re mumblecore, trip-hop or Sonic Youth wannabes

17. Arch, singsongey indie pop from Philly with a guy who tries to sing falsetto but who can’t hit the notes

18. A guy who makes random, echoey stoner guitar loops

19. Yowling trendoids from Brooklyn who aren’t aware that banging on out-of-tune guitars and pretending to be country hicks is so 1985.

20. Sonic Youth wannabes from Brooklyn who can’t write or sing or for that matter really play guitar either

21. A really good, totally kick-ass garage punk band from Brooklyn

22. Boring, melodically-challenged Brooklynites who can’t figure out what corporate band they want to ape most: Marooon 5? Interpol?

23. A wimpy guitar/piano trendoid duo: teenage stoner poetry for lyrics, mumbly off-key vocals

24. Gawky, shambling lo-fi indie rock from DC with vocals so awful they make you laugh.

25. A fiftysomething ex-member of an obscure late 70s British new wave band playing solo

26. A promising garage/R&B-inflected NY punk band with a deliciously vicious sense of humor

27. A punky Brooklyn girlpop band with good energy and some promise, if they can put some tunes together

28. A thrashy Brooklyn band with some promise and a sense of satire but an unfortunate tendency to fall into wannabe-Sonic Youth clichés

29. A lo-fi acoustic dork who plays in that awful uber-trendy acoustic dork band with that girl with the really HUGE ass, who just got all those songs in that trendy movie

30. A precious, sixtysomething freak-folk singer from the 70s trying to cash in on the freak-folk revival a la Vashti Bunyan, with similarly dismal results

31. A singer-songwriter who’s also a first-class lyricist and a good singer with some cool narrative songs, even if some of her stuff comes across as a little stiff.

32. A precious, arch Portland indie pop band who sometimes venture into 80s goth territory

33. Somebody who, if the myspace the club calendar links to is actually hers (it might not be – you’ll see why), has absolutely no aptitude for either guitar or vocals and really shouldn’t embarrass herself by getting onstage and trying to play in front of a crowd.

34. A lo-fi Courtney Love wannabe from the UK

35. Somebody else from the UK doing Brian Eno-style ambient noise for stoners

36. A poetry reading

37. A pounding, tuneless Boston band, hardcore bordering on emo

38. Liz Phair wannabes from DC with literary pretensions

39. Lame lo-fi stoner “experimental” trendoid garbage from Brooklyn

40. An unlistenable, uncategorizable, grating, percussive, very popular indie band from Brooklyn whose silly, singsongey vocals rival #24 above

41. A weird Brooklyn stoner quintet who dabble in Latin, afropop and trancey instrumentals, who could be good if they can find some focus.

42. Tuneless trendoids who alternate between Sonic Youth wannabe stuff and twee acoustic songs

43. A drony goth-ish stoner noise band led by that woman from that popular indie band

44. An Israeli thrash-metal band

45. A lousy Athens, Georgia garage band with an annoying, preening vocalist

46. An unbelievably bad local indie band: shouted, atonal vocals, no tunes whatsoever and stupid high school stoner poetry

47. One of those new freak-folk types who’s just as weird and boring as the first wave

48. A campy, funny ha-ha, i.e. not funny at all gay acoustic duo

49. No music tonight –the club has a gay disco party in lieu of bands

50. A guy from New Hampshire with the same name as that Yankees prospect who was traded for that big star who never panned out, who sings in a stilted, declamatory voice and can’t write to save his life.

51. A decent, upbeat two-guitars-and-drums lo-fi garage band from Brooklyn

52. A trendoid trio from Atlanta who sort of attempt to play garage music but can’t even tune their guitars, let alone play them

53. A generic hardcore band from New Jersey (where else, right?)

54. A recent Parsons grad who’s trying to mesh Arab and Appalachian music, with mixed results.

55. A trendoid who plays as if he’s never seen a guitar or microphone in his life and is very afraid of both

56. See #24 above.

57. An inoffensive singer-songwriter who couldn’t wait to start playing out even though he really can’t sing or write songs with any originality.

But the experiment was worth it: two excellent, loud rock bands, one ok-to-good band and a familiar singer-songwriter who has a good way with words. Stay tuned for part 2 when we venture across the water, figuratively speaking.


March 25, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City

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