Re: The state of indie music in this nation's capital

1

"artisans"?


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 10:55 AM
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2

Music criticism is bizarrely location-centric. Why should I care where a band comes from?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:11 AM
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3

Because you want to see them live?

Because it gives you a sense of who influenced them?


Posted by: micah | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:13 AM
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4

"mang"?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:17 AM
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5

my take is that that article is ridiculous and i have never heard of any of those bands.


Posted by: catherine | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:32 AM
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6

Stras is just defensive because most shows in his local scene hairmetal bands that light people on fire.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:33 AM
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7

haha. they want to while away there evening hours. this was printed?


Posted by: catherine | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:34 AM
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8

Mang.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:36 AM
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9

Proper syntax improves the mocking of tragedies.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:36 AM
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10

It seems only logical that the most powerful city in America should have an artistic footprint influencing the entire nation.

Indie is just empire misspelled.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:39 AM
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11

Because you want to see them live?

Lots of bands tour. And for those that don't, they either live in an area where I can get out to see them play, or they live too far away, in which case I can't.

Because it gives you a sense of who influenced them?

The notion that bands are primarily influenced by the bands that live near them, as opposed to the bands they listened to growing up or continue to listen to now, is totally overblown, I think. While there are certainly some areas where like-minded musicians congregate, I think it's more often the case that a given city will produce lots of bands that sound very different, and their happening to emerge from the same "scene" is more coincidence than anything else.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:39 AM
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12

6 would've been totally hilarious had it been grammatically correct. I award Wrongshore points for effort anyway.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:41 AM
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13

I love that stras is pissed off about this. My next blog is going to have just one commenter, and it's going to be stras.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:43 AM
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14

My next blog is going to have just one commenter, and it's going to be stras.

Rebound relationships aren't pretty.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:45 AM
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15

For what it is worth, Stanley's band's new cd is pretty darn good. Pop music. But, good nevertheless.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:48 AM
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16

I think Georgetowner there is just pissed because Baltimore kicks DC's ass, music-wise.


Posted by: marichiweu | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:48 AM
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The notion that bands are primarily influenced by the bands that live near them, as opposed to the bands they listened to growing up or continue to listen to now, is totally overblown, I think.

Maybe it's just because I grew up in (suburban) DC, but the idea that there wouldn't be a local scene with a bunch of bands sharing musicians and ripping each other off is weird to me. Who tells you what to think is cool if you don't have a couple of Ians floating around?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:48 AM
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18

13- I'll pay you money to add Emerson and McManus.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:49 AM
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19

This would be his bad band's new cd, and not his good band's new cd, then?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:49 AM
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20

I love that stras is pissed off about this.

You're so trying to piss me off by pulling the old "why are you so angry?" thing on me whenever I'm not actually angry. But it's not going to work. From now on when I start to get mad, I listen to this soothing tape of the sea.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 11:54 AM
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21

Correct Ben.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:08 PM
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22

Which sea? I love artisanally-produced tapes of the Baltic. The Adriatic is so overrated!


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:09 PM
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20: Sure, white people love listening to tape of the sea. But be sure to have the tapes pre-screened here at Unfogged. You should make sure that you are listening to good tapes of the sea and not bad tapes of the sea.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:10 PM
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24

Jeez Merg, could you pwn me any more succinctly?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:13 PM
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25

But be sure to have the tapes pre-screened here at Unfogged.

Would you screen these recordings for me?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:13 PM
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26

||

Hey, we're Cosma Shalizi's favorite blog, or at least one of the top three.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:19 PM
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27

Stras, you big dummy, I'm not a music person and even I'm smart enough to realize that the point of regionally-based music criticism is that it tells you who's *up and coming*, what's *new*. The audience for brand new bands is "the folks who go to the bar they play at and maybe a few non-local friends who buy their cds out of personal obligation".


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:28 PM
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28

24: Whee! I also recommended a book for you in the sex-for-hire thread.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:31 PM
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29

"capitol"?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:34 PM
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30

28: Saw that. Thanks. Although British historians tend to be overrated...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:37 PM
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31

Good reverb under that dome.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:38 PM
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32

31: They're House bands.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:38 PM
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33

"capitol"?

Would you believe that I originally had "capital" and was overcome by doubt?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:39 PM
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34

Bitch, you even bigger dummy, I wasn't contesting the worth of looking at the newness of a band, but the location of a band. I've read plenty of reviews that place all sorts of weight on where a band comes from (or what label they've signed to, or what various aspects of Pitchforkia said about their last album, and other bits of trivia), when this seems to be relatively incidental to the actual sound the band produces. Saying "X is part of the Upper Bumfuck scene" seems to function as little more than a way to puff up one's music nerd cred. And I've got nothing against music nerds; some of my best friends are music nerds. But it can make it impossible to figure out what a band actually sounds like if you're reading a review of an album or a concert and the first three paragraphs are devoted to the reviewer's various musings on the relationship between crabcakes and noise-pop.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:46 PM
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35

Would you believe that I originally had "capital" and was overcome by doubt?

No.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:46 PM
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36

And yes, yes, I know, X was actually from Los Angeles.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:47 PM
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37

33: Part III: Chapter 1.
The Pedant Encounters a Moment of Doubt and Requires Correcting


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:55 PM
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38

My favorite part of the Cosma interview that LB linked above:

What is your favourite proverb?
'Why think when you can do the experiment?' (I realize this isn't a proverb, just a saying of my mother's, but I hope it becomes one.)

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 12:57 PM
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39

34: Because the location matters, which is what I was saying. If there's an emerging "scene"--since, after all, locally, musicians may play in more than one band, may play together across bands they don't really belong to, etc--then that's part of what feeds whatever new "sound" is happening. It's not incidental at all.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 1:05 PM
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40

I do think the phenomenon of musicians who know each other/play together/see each other play feeding off each other is a lot more common than stras is acknowledging, here. When you're making music, you tend to want to make music that your friends will enjoy, and if you're playing to a similar kind of crowd with similar kind of bands, there are going to be creative trends that everybody will kind of pick up on. That definitely happened among my friends in LA, and I've seen it happen in other scenes as well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 1:09 PM
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41

29 - Why not?

Stras, the fact that we're talking about DC rather than LA or New York or Chicago makes it more interesting, because the DC indie scene really does seem to have been the outcome of a thirty year effort on MacKaye's part to will one into existence out of the raw material of a bunch of disaffected white teenagers (and Bad Brains and Scream, but stay with me). DC (and Montreal now) has more of a sound in common to me, even for bands that aren't really much alike. Part of that may just be that they're all using the same batch of local producers and studios, of course.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 1:13 PM
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42

I do think the phenomenon of musicians who know each other/play together/see each other play feeding off each other is a lot more common than stras is acknowledging, here.

I'm not saying that phenomenon doesn't exist, just that it's way, way overplayed. Cities aren't homogeneous art engines that produce a single sound, but that's the impression you'd get reading most music criticism.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 1:19 PM
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43

I agree with 40. And even if you don't believe it's still true for indie rock, the continuing relevance of local scenes as testing ground/starting point for new trends is pretty hard to ignore in, say, hip hop.

DC really is something of a special case. Not only is there the carefully nurturing Fugazi/Dischord influence, but we're talking about the city of go-go. Washington is a city from the parallel universe in which urban dance music evolved from funk without the influence of any that crazy New York "toasting" that all the kids are listening to these days.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 1:30 PM
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44

Also, from the actual link (which, until I read the "via", I thought was a joke): But let us not forget that some of the most celebrated works of William Shakespeare and Mozart played in the common theatre houses during their lifetimes. At times, their work was not widely accepted by the power elite of their day. It was often viewed as subversive, offensive, and a direct challenge to those in power.

That's why the man locked up Francis Bacon, duh!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 1:33 PM
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45

Could someone link to some go-go I can hear? I danced to a go-go tape when I was 13 in summer camp, and have not heard any since.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 1:42 PM
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46

38: The answer, of course, is that experiments can take a lot of time and yield useless or ambiguous data. Since we all have a finite amount of time, and we all wish to do at least one experiment that leads to an interesting conclusion before we die, it is important to choose the right experiments. This can be accomplished by thinking, which often requires less time than doing.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 1:48 PM
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47

Go-go radio, via rfts's link, of course.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 1:48 PM
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48

As I understand it, this was the only go-go song to ever be a mainstream hit.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 1:51 PM
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49

46: Sure, but *when* you can do the experiment (or the research), you should.

The real reason for thinking rather than finding out is that it's easier, and we're lazy.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 2:00 PM
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50

49.2: Could you post a link to that?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 2:01 PM
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51

46, 49: I read it as a humorous corrective/reminder to an (academic) world that often values thinking over experimenting.

I would think it would be a natural fit for this place. Haven't we intrepidly done research on a couple of vital issues already?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 2:23 PM
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52

For my part alone I can think of no small number of vital issues I wouldn't at all mind researching closely and assiduously.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 2:32 PM
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53

Local scenes are absolutely relevant, but they're limited to smaller groups of interconnected artists, producers and inspirations. It's not like every artist from a city will start sounding the same, but there are definitely groups of bands or artists or DJs who will all rise together in the same place at the same time.

I suppose the latest really well-known example in indie rock would be the deliberately overproduced poppish coming out of Toronto ever since 2002-2003 or so all based around the Broken Social Scene members and David Newfield the producer.

As Tweety and rfts points out though, it's a lot more common in hiphop and dance music local scenes.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 2:37 PM
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54

Off topic, what sort of trousers should I pair with a nice navy blazer? I feel terrible because I have a custom-made blazer and amazing brown dress shoes, but I just never bother wearing them because I'll die before I throw on khakis as formal trousers. How can I escape always wearing my dark grey suit for dressy occasions?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 2:41 PM
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55

I'll die before I throw on khakis as formal trousers

But... but... a navy blazer isn't formal! Anyway, why not grey trousers of some middling-dressy degree? Flannels or something.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 2:53 PM
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54: you know you want to wear a polo with the collar popped, Po-Mo. Rock the khakis, go to the yacht club.

You could also get some seersucker trousers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 3:16 PM
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46- Otto, Cosma just emailed me, pissed off that you punked his mom. I'd stand down if I were you.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 3:27 PM
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58

54: What's wrong with white?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 3:30 PM
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59

It seems only logical that the most powerful city in America should have an artistic footprint influencing the entire nation. A footprint to rival London, Paris, Rome, Berlin and the other great cities of the world.

One scene to rule them all, one scene to find them, one scene to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

The listed dress code at the club which the author proposes as the beating heart of DC indie:

Great Hall: Jacket and Tie required
Tap Room: Collared Shirt required
Entire Club: No Jeans, Shorts or Flip Flops
Cellular Phones are strictly prohibited throughout the Club


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03-15-08 7:47 PM
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60

Clinton Criticized For Not Supporting Local Music Scene


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-17-08 11:30 AM
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Kriston and Catherine have already said it, but yeah, this is a pretty hilarious effort to rip off coverband-listenin' Ballstonians. The only musically relevant thing in Georgetown is the Grog & Tankard, and just barely at that (on both counts).

41 makes good points, but things around here have actually been emerging from Dischord's shadow for a while now. DC bands are beginning to sound a bit less distinctive, but that's a necessary thing -- the style had been aped and reprocessed well past the point of diminishing returns, and the lingering antipathy to commercial success created by Fugazi's example made sure that any ambitious bands fled to NYC as quickly as possible.


Posted by: Tom | Link to this comment | 03-17-08 11:54 AM
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