this must be the place....goin strong , yeah baby!!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mildly Amusing Booking -- the moderately different (?) pitchfork rant


This is sorta rich, I think...

Pitchfork just released their SXSW party schedule. I don't know every single band they booked, but I'd like to take a stab at some of the logic behind this booking, and do what will probably only take 5 minutes worth of "myspace research" in order to throw an educated guess at the rest. This is to be a sort of "why am I not surprised" in the tradition of attempting to guess to the spot their year end best-of list, which I recall a few of us did to a somewhat hysterical degree of accuracy, the proof of which likes somewhere in this blogs archives. ("But anyone could've!" exactly.)

But first, my historical emotions on a website so beloved in these hallow halls that Noggin wrote a simple crack to automatically change its spelling in order we not refer them traffic via search engines algorithms (nerd alert!!)

The complaints about pitchfork in my mind have always been the same (and at this point you really have to start with the complaints). -- 1. They don't really ever go out on a limb, 2. while they explore what's going on in other cultures, going as far as to employ boots on the ground aka 3rd party bloggers, they often turn a blind eye to what is going on in the American underground, opting to cover what's going on in what I'll call "the American-underground-music-industry" instead, 3. they periodically write unfair reviews, both overly positive and negative, as a speculative and Machiavellian practice to create a buzz loop which will in turn "prove" their own relevance, as well as help maintain their ad revenues, often to the detriment of bands,(which like the American worker we will call "hard-working" for the sake of rhetorical flourish) and finally, 4. that, even though they have to be aware of everything mentioned above, they still manage to believe their own shit, which in turn causes them to "miss the point" more often than probably should be strictly necessary.

And that strikes me as just so crass, and frankly, unnecessary. It's as if they don't recognize real rock and roll exists, and so they organize themselves around some bizarre Warholian reproduction of it, to fill a void that doesn't exist. And while you can't just ignore what was going on in Britian in the 60s (as the classical narrative would tell it) as central to any historical retelling you would find in a History of Rock and Roll class at a mediocre 4 year university, the hierarchical promotion of the Beatlemania hero-aspect of it is counter productive to a concept of rock-and-roll-as-living-art (its been said a million times, but why rate albums from 0.0-10.0 in the first place?) It's like overturning Roe v just can't ignore precedent, and the laughability factor comes in when you consider the level of canonization Pitchfork affords to 80s alternative.

But rock and roll is alive and well, and its not going anywhere, so i should probably unwad my panties and shut up about this particular matter, because its such a straw man to profess the DIY ethic and waste time attack the music industry on any level. But I think it can still be understood as a more proper Yin to the DIY circuits Yang than say, Capitol Records. The proverbial darkness without which light can't exist.

I am somewhat remiss at this point to have neglected to mention that especially during 2003-4 when I was first in college, pitchfork turned me on to a hell of a lot of music I wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise, including from college radio. Their best tool for me (in conjunction with was their searchable database of reviews from the past few years, which by the way is no longer easily accessible, and which has inexplicably in my view seen deletions. The stuff they were covering at the time was also really exciting, and the majority of what made their year end list was good shit (note: The Rapture-Echoes was still head-scratchingly their 2003 pick for best album, speculatively because they were trying to push that [*cough* New York] record in order to appear as ultra hip as possible. Oops, called that one wrong.}

But I don't think they really know what's going on anymore. I mean, they don't cover the DIY circuit at all south of Baltimore/D.C, except some West Coast stuff. If you were them, trying to do what they do, wouldn't you actively pursue this? Fuckin Yankees! And they can pay lip service in the reviews but to me these SXSW shows they book (and to a lesser extent their festival) is the damning evidence that its as much them not knowing what they are doing as anything else.

Which is to say you can pay lip service in the reviews, but that's not even really where their focus lies these day, and booking is really the ultimate test, because you have to take sides.

The full Pitchfork SXSW schedule:

12:00 - Girls (Emo's Jr.)
12:30 - The Mae Shi (Emo's)
1:00 - Little Boots (Emo's Jr.)
1:30 - Max Tundra (Emo's)
2:00 - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Emo's Jr.)
2:30 - Woods (Emo's)
3:00 - School of Seven Bells (Emo's Jr.)
3:30 - Wavves (Emo's)
4:00 - Dirty Projectors (Emo's Jr.)
4:30 - King Khan & the Shrines (Emo's)
5:00 - A-Trak/Major Lazer [ft. Diplo] (Emo's Jr.)
5:30 - Department of Eagles (Emo's)

Keep in mind, pitchfork could have gotten WHOEVER THEY WANTED and run this show HOWEVER THEY WANTED at ANY VENUE THEY WANTED, and yet they make THE SAFEST PICKS POSSIBLE WITH A CLEAR REGIONAL BIAS. OK, so who'd they get for their big "were the best, come to our party" rock show (and it goes without saying, I wonder which of these bands is getting paid and which aren't).

The things that stick out about this show to me: 1. Where are all these bands from, oh yeah, New York, LA and San Fransisco. 2. The inclusion of Woods and Wavves. I don't know much about these bands other than to tell you they have already for all intensive purposes "blown up." They were on Todd P (influential NYC promoters) email list in Capital letters for like months for about 4 different shows, which is highly unusual for his mailing list. I also bought a Vivian Girls 7" that is on Woodsist, which, as I was putting 2 and 2 together, is a hip NYCcentric label run by the band Woods. Cool! They are probably cool dudes, and these are bands I would like to see over SXSW if I get a chance...its not the bands, its the regionalism and conservativeness masquerading as edginess that bothers me.

School of Seven Bells is a Brooklyn band soon to open for Black Moth Super Rainbow. I for some reason thought this band was from San Fransisco and related to Deerhoof. Even without the BMSR dates, I would have bet this band has a booking agent, being as though the other shows they are playing over SXSW are at Mohawk (Rhapsody daytime party), Transmission's new Radio Room (Mojo party), this pithfork show at Emos, and, hey, throw in a show at the Urban Outfitters, why not, Bloc Party (remember them?) played there.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (NYC) to me are an interestingly obvious pick (couldn't get Vivian Girls?) Pitchfork has been pushing this storyline like this whole sound is in a revival right now, because they found a band in England that sounds the same (as if there is any creative England --> USA musical interaction right now), but what they say it's a revival of is like Cherry Red 80s indie pop. One band they bring up is The Shop Assistants, and while I only know of, have listened to and enjoyed that band specifically because of press related to these "revival" bands, its sort of ignoring the fact that Cherry Red was the no-respect bastard little brother to Rough Trade in its own time, and while The Shop Assistants wrote some cool songs, Cherry Red got no respect at least partially BECAUSE THEIR ROSTER WASN'T THAT GREAT. So it stands to reason that the non-top dog doing this sound may also be NOT THAT GREAT. But I haven't seen em

Hard to ever complain about the Dirty Projectors (NYC) on a bill, regardless of whether or not its a "safe" pick, but if you're giving this tastemaker/regionalism arguement of mine weight, don't forget this is the same band that at one time used as a press quote (I think from 2005ish) "'The best band in NYC right now' -Todd P"

Then follow that with, shockingly obviously in 2008, a big garage band. Couldn't get the Black Lips? Oh no shit? King Khan, really going out on a limb there. Follow that with big name party DJs (which you stick at Emo's inside???)....and then follow that with Dept. of Eagles (NYC), guys known for their use of texture on a completely unsuitable sound system (less suitable than Emo's Inside even.)

So, pah, I laugh at you Pitchfork!!!! I'd rather go see those bands at the Todd P Mrs. Bea's shows anyways, DUH.

Oh and assuming no bad shit goes dow, our shows are gonna be the shit this year. Like, next level the shit for real. Still getting the slots in...

I love you all


  1. King Khan is from Montreal.

  2. all I was saying about the King Khan pick is I find it unsurprising they would take the most established garage band they could find. Not that that would be bad, or that they shouldn't, more so that their logic behind the show as a whole is very specific in a way thats a bit transparently Machiavellian

  3. well, if the little Max Tundra ADD feature on Bitchpork is any indication, I think he should be fun to watch... I do not think I'll be around for SXSW though. The entire lineup as a whole didn't grab me very much.

  4. this post is also why i dont drink coffee after 5 PM, yesterday sort of got weird....