Tag Archives: art-rock

Don Dial

“I was twelve when that song came out!”

“It’s a free country, you can be any age you want.”

There’s stage banter and then there are the words that spewed out of Damon Che like a volcano. The drummer and last original member of Pittsburgh’s Don Caballero was absolutely trashed when the trio performed at Harper’s Ferry in Allston this past Sunday. Sweating and pummeling behind the drum kit in a button-down shirt and a pair of boxers, Che addressed the crowd in the same way his band’s songs did between the minutes of drunken balladry; relentlessly, maniacally, unconventionally, humorously, and spontaneously. Moreover, it was hard to tell what he would say next or what metal-meets-punk-meets-art-rock lick the band would blast the crowd with.

Don Caballero

Don Caballero

Sure, Che may have seemed like an asshole at the beginning, going on and on about how his band used to fill bigger places in Boston; hell, if a former member of your 15-year old band was pulling in larger crowds after one album with a new group (former Caballero guitarist Ian Williams of Battles), I could see how you’d get pissed off. Even though under different (sober) circumstances Che might have acted differently, it’s hard for me not to recall the time of unconventional concert-going in which Caballero came to life with their twisted take on rock. Back in ’93, Fugazi (as always, the biggest point of influence for the most outstanding, influential, and creative emo acts) were as well known for subverting the normal rock concert atmosphere by addressing the crowd in absurd ways. From hugging and kissing violent concert-goers to bringing the music to a complete halt if violence broke out on the floor to addressing all kinds of anarchic questions and behaviors, there was no arena-rock fourth wall when Fugazi played.

Ponytail

Ponytail

And the same thing happened the other night. Che’s moments of conversation with the audience weren’t epiphanies, but it certainly diverged from the rock ‘n roll attitude that many concerts always seem to hold as a token rule. Caballero were hardly alone as opener’s Ponytail – one of the best live acts out there – made a great ruckus of genre-melding art-punk as singer Molly Siegel constantly drove her body to the edge of the stage while addressing the crowd whenever possible. Musically, Ponytail one-upped Caballero. But phonetically? Well, you really can’t top Che’s question of the second for the audience:

“Would it hurt my career if I were to join the NRA right now?”

Don Caballero – Palm Trees In The Fecking Bahamas (live):

Ponytail – 7 Souls (live):

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Building the Playing

Down in New York for the weekend, I decided to take a break from some ear-shattering concerts (short review: Deerhoof rocked Prospect Park, Parts & Labor absolutely killed it at Siren Music Festival) to check out David Byrne’s Playing the Building exhibit at the Battery Maritime Building in Manhattan. The instillation is a wonderful little experiment. Byrne rigged up an old organ and attached each key to a tube that then sets off a sound within different parts of the building. Each key either triggers the sound of banging, whistling, or vibrating in different portions of the structure, thereby creating the concept of “playing the building.”

There are various ideas encapsulated within the instillation that resonate within emo and numerous punk and post-punk genres, to which Byrne himself has been such a vibrant part of since he was a founding member of Talking Heads. The instillation is meant to be an exploration of music in that the sounds emitting from the organ are in no ways linear by classical standards of tuning or performance; while classically-trained musicians will find frustration in the process, those without any musical background and “non-musicians” should potentially use the opportunity to explore making music on such an open template. Whereas knowing how to play an instrument versus a lack of experience or knowledge is the first of many boundaries that helped create the olde world rock status that punk revolted against, Byrne’s installation destroys all those boundaries. If anything, it shifts those boundaries against those with formal training, making it frustrating for those individuals to attempt to create the kind of compositions they’re used to.

Aside from that, Byrne’s exhibit makes it able for anyone with access to said exhibit and patience to wait in line the temporary ability to try their hand at making music (or just plain noise) for a temporary amount of time. Part of what makes emo (and other punk genres) so appealing is that it’s focused on allowing every individual to make music by their own means (or rather, any individual who is up to the task of doing that). But hey, instruments aren’t like penny candy, and those are usually the first resources to grab in order to make music. With Playing the Building, all you need is a Metro card and the ability to sign a waver and you have your chance to make your own noise.

After a 20 minute wait, I tried my hand at “Chopsticks” and fooled around with the keys before quickly getting up, taking a good-humored bow for the patient folks who were behind me. Look out Lil Wayne, I’m about to grab your spot on Billboard.

EXTRA EXTRA:

TV on the Radio

TV on the Radio

More good news from the land of upcoming releases. TV on the Radio have announced the release of their next album! Due out at the end of September, Dear Science, should be another great addition to what has been a wonderful array of noise, punk, and art-rock releases for 2008. Never mind my usual attempts to discuss hype, but whatever you want to call this collection of underground music bubbling up around the country it’s looking to be big. The new new alternative? Maybe. Whatever the case may be, it sure sounds great.

UGK vs TV on the Radio – I Was an International Player (Hood Internet)