Monday, November 26, 2007

Music: Art Brut and The Hold Steady

Art Brut, whose first album (which is completely brilliant (and hilarious)) came out last year, opened for The Hold Steady last week. Some other English guys who call themselves the 1990s opened for Art Brut. The show was at Terminal 5, the only decent venue conveniently located within walking distance from my house, and I went, even though I had no clue who or what The Hold Steady was; I like Art Brut enough that I didn't really care.

I'm not one of those people who goes to shows every week. I clearly don't know anything about the local music scene, since I hadn't ever heard of The Hold Steady (they are, apparently, from Brooklyn, and epitomize, as I would find out, everything that I can't stand about Brooklyn. . . or should I say "new" Brooklyn, that is, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Park Slope; not Sheepshead Bay, Bed Stuy, Bay Ridge). The performances I am accustomed to attending have assigned seating (or at least seating) and generally well-mannered audiences. And even when I was a teenager who loitered in malls after school, I wasn't an ill-behaved one. The worst I ever did was shred food court napkins into tiny pieces and leave them like miniature haystacks on the plastic table tops, with the excuse to my cohorts that I was "creating jobs." (These days I am fanatical about cleaning up after myself in public places, and have gone so far as to insist on taking my own trash out of Starbucks when the employee was standing right there, trying to take it from me.)

Digressions aside, this was an 18-and-over show, and, while I want to respect the rights of young people to see their favorite bands perform live (I recall listening to one of my closest friends--a real indie aficionado--bitch for three years about how she couldn't ever attend the 21-and-over venues in Seattle, where she was going to college), I expect them to behave better than barn animals. Aside from the fan-boys who knew every lyric to every song (unheard of 1990s included) and the girls with snub noses, ironed hair, and autographed band t-shirts squealing in my ear (my friend gave me earplugs, but I needed them more for the audience than the bands), the crowd was basically tolerable.

The 1990s were pretty dismal (a guitarist who sang lead, a bass player, and a drummer who also sang, but clearly whose role in the band was to look hot, hence his placement front and center, and his inability to sing and play drums fast at the same time). When Art Brut came on, we all pepped up a bit, and did some minor jumping around (Art Brut is like, basic post-punk rocking with amusing, ironic, semi-intellectual, faux naive lyrics). They were pretty entertaining performers, if somewhat over-styled, but the propelling force of the music--the lyrics--were generally uninterpretable due to acoustics, audience participation, etc., making the live show a lot less enjoyable than listening to the album on headphones. Songs from the new album, which I don't have, and haven't heard, did not compel me to buy it or hear it.

Along with all of the teeny-boppers, there were plenty of classic indie rockers in the crowd: men in their fifties with glasses, grayed temples, and t-shirt clad foodie bellies. In the break between Art Brut and The Hold Steady, a young asshat (technical term) wormed his way to the front and center (where my friend and I were standing, perhaps three feet from the stage), and began verbally harassing a bald, bespectacled music fan, for "being too old for a rock concert" and the like (the kid not realizing that this guy lived through the bloody creation of rock as we know it, and even the birth of indie rock as we know it). When the band came on stage, the asshat began to jump and push, creating a mosh pit (to which creation the crowd was amenable). I remained put through one song, sustaining minor injuries, and then decided to leave. I am too attached to my body, plus the band was awful. Imagine a group of white, aging hipsters, the leader of whom looks like a cross between George Costanza and Newman, pretending to be hardcore. That, my friends, is Brooklyn, and its representative rock band, The Hold Steady. Give me Seattle or give me silence.

1 comment:

Perry Garvin said...

"Asshat." Amazing. He was an ass, wasn't he? But come on - The Hold Steady are far less pretentious than most rock bands. And if you gave the lyrics a listening-to, I think you'd find them hifalutin enough for your tastes. Anyway, I'll burn you a disc - the lead guitarist's amp sound should be enough to create stars in your eyes.