Hey kids, once upon a time, media outlets existed that didn’t have “Verizon” or “BankOfAmerica” in the title, people went to see “musical artists” who they actually enjoyed, rather than read about on the internet and wanted to see so other people who read about them on the internet would want to have sex with them (back in the old days, such formalities were unnecessary, as everyone walked around in a perpetual crochet-top state of mind, so I hear/imagine). ( The last such event I attended was two full years ago. It was a band that was getting a lot of “internet buzz” at the time, and I naively wasn’t expecting the line to be crawling with mall cast-offs and sorority also-rans. After shotgunning some PBRs in the parking lot, my jorted crew and I found ourselves lingering in the shadows of some local poli-sci majors, who were rolling their stripey polos off and spilling their seven dollar beers on my dance moves. At one point, I listened while one leaned uttered to other, “she’s hot, but not as hot as [other female performer].” Ok so maybe I’m being a tad sensitive but as I have a PhD in “female artists aren’t taken as seriously as male artists! They’re judged on their appearance more than their talent!” I went home, deleted my facebook account and decided to retire from the buzzworthy circuit then and there.)
I digress. Back before “rock and roll” and the concert-going experience were commodified within an inch of their lives and completely de-clawed of any of the actual danger that defined the genre in the first place (I’m talking like ALTAMONT, man) music journalism was marked with the same amphetamine’d snarl of the artists themselves. (Wikipedia Lester Bangs and then read the rest of this.) Can you imagine a contemporary Rolling Stone without a naked seventeen year old, ambiguously “talented” human-shaped void on the cover? ME EITHER!
However. I am pleased to report that even these wearied eyes have spied some actual illumination in the music-journo cave. This century even! Some high points:
This piece, published on Pitchfork back in February, ignited my hope in a music journalism renaissance: “popular” music itself has evolved worlds from our Long National Nightmare of 1997-2003 (perhaps those young pups at the “alt show” were more a harbinger of hope than the end? half glass full yall!), as should sentient takes on This Whole Thing. William Bowers tears through the Florida festival circuit like the quietly enraged progeny of David Foster Wallace and Lester himself. I imagine him to be PhD’d and drunk in equal measures, but of course. Admittedly prone to such sentiments, I found myself grateful for his existence in this post-Village-Voice-as-actual-cultural-arbiter universe.
In the mood for Dos and Don’ts but bored of Street Boners (incessant whining and casual misogyny is s0 over), I wandered over to Vice and discovered the brilliant accounts of Moe Bishop, who seems to hate most music, as all music writers worth their wayfarers should. He had me at this rewrite of a classic John Mayer inanity. Bishop also thinks music festivals are overblown and dead, which makes me want to chuck warm beers at the revelers with him.
Finally, for a more cerebral, less gloriously unhinged approach, check out (Pitchfork’s editor-in-chief) Mark Richardson’s Resonant Frequency column. Scouring teh world wide web for a thoughtful take on Grimes, I stumbled upon Richardson’s commentary on gender as informative of our experience of various artists, which basically fits into the center of the Venn diagram of my obsessions (cf. this entire post).
Long live benzedrine-/egomaniacally-fueled proclamations about rock and roll saving/destroying Western civilization.