The Next The Strokes


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The Head Set + The Harlem Shakes @ Pianos July 26

Harlem Shakes Download: "A Night"

These Head Set motherfuckers--didn't they win an award for something a while back? They should have--for something. Now I'll hear straight-eighth strums or some peppy post-grad sloth, and within secs I'm ready to blowhole some serious This Is Not It fire on frumps. Your bandmates got on-sleeve personalities and I'm chomping snark bites: Oh, you're the sensitive one; you're somebody's little brother, I get it; you're the guy the rest of the band has to shut up whenever you're drunk. And yep, I just checked: NYU grads who started as a "pickup band for a student show."

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And yet as much as I wanted to sac this hard-working post-Strokes tali band--even steeping so low as to think, "Oh my god, they're wearing t-shirts?! That's so pretentious"--I have to admit the Head Set are good at what they do, and better than most bands who want essentially the same sound. I like their songs (live this one killed, so did this one, which has some Walkmen flavor too--hey, the Head Set, the Walkmen, makes perfect sense to me), the lead guy's Casablancas impersonation is spot-on, the guitar, physically, sounds interesting, and we can't ask for much better of a straight-up rock drummer who knows what to fill and where to leave room. Nothing knocked me sideways, but if I saw my 11-year-old sister rocking to a Head Set jam on Clear Channel (six months away, tops), I wouldn't be too upset.

Another H. S. band, soul-rock-poppers the Harlem Shakes played a gig I saw in New Haven a few years back in an art barn, and the day schoolers insist, despite my memories elsewhere and otherwise, that their set caused said art barn to collapse mid-party. Whatever dudes, rock's a bottle of shitty beer: You twisted off the cap but I did all the work.

Anyway these guys played after the Head Set, with an old guitarist because their current one got into a Vespa accident. Sounded fine to me. Thing is, I would have more to say about the Shakes' set except that I got stuck standing next to the lead singer's mother. Really I have no idea who this woman was; she might have just been someone's aunt, or a fan (the Shakes have opened up for Maroon 5 and Wire, so anything's possible). But what this means, in Riff Raff terms, is that all the things I would have written down, or said aloud, or punched, never materialized because this guy's mom was right there. Yeah, like I'm gonna moleskine "lead singer would make for a good villain in an off-broadway musical" when she's standing beside me, crying tears of joy because she's thinking the same exact thing.

On good days I'm a web columnist; on bad days I'm a blogger. Today is a very bad day. If you need proof, here are all the things I remember wanting to say or write down during the Harlem Shakes' set, but ultimately didn't because I didn't want this woman to know my thoughts:

-holy shit woman in front of me looks exactly like lead singer wtf

-omg rockstars wearing ties--new trend in rock?

-lead singer guy should stop singing so much

-write piece from perspective of lead singers mom?

-"i hope my son never stops singing"

-"rock music is so loud!"

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