Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. —Proverbs 26:4-5
Liquid Tapedeck would have us believe that they’re pop-music revolutionaries, “the most imaginative band in history.” Except there’s nothing revolutionary—or even imaginative—about calling Voice music editor and Kix fan Chuck Eddy’s opinions “IDIOTIC.” This from one of the many screeds, frequently handwritten (though never in crayon), promoting a rock ‘n’ roll swindle unimagined by Malcolm McLaren. But I give the ‘Deck’s dreck too much credit.
Keeping with their cheap pomo proclivity for just pretending to play, every LTD song seems to be an off-the-tops-of-their-heads one-off jerk-off. Their tape—featuring “Lick the Clinton” and a rap song proposing the murder of a very nice, big-time rock critic—licked the big one. But this was performance art, better judged in process, not as product, right? (Like when singer-mumbler Math Jokes, as “Soy Bomb,” bumrushed Bob Dylan before millions of at-home viewers on the ’98 Grammys.)
Turns out the best part of their free show in Times Square was the capacity audience roped in off the sidewalk: bums, porn-seekers, freezing tourists, befuddled non-English speakers, and misguided hipsters (I was the one taking notes! My friends were bored and sulky!). Peter Etc. ripped air-guitar on his six-string. Math Jokes moaned and muttered. Both were intentionally unconvincing. But this emphasis on reaction over action, like all of LTD’s conceits, is ultimately a cop-out. Their 20-minute set dragged. A very cute young woman, wiggling, wearing red pants and black bangs, proved to be the only person onstage worth watching.
That said, the personalized missives by Etc. are sometimes amusing—when they’re not overlong or simply offensive. An “a cappella drum solo” is funny (on paper), but a serious dis of black journalists who didn’t vote for white artists in Pazz & Jop is worse than stupid. At best, the ‘Deck have sorta held up a mirror to rock crit—presumably to see if it’s still breathing (no comment). As with all reflections, everything’s on the wrong side. Peter Etc. isn’t really a musician; he’s a writer who puts in neat block letters the opposite of what he means: “DAMN YOU!” ends one paragraph condemning a critic’s preview. “I hope you’ll come to our [next] show.”
So aren’t these words the attention Liquid Tapedeck so desperately desire? Let’s just say we’re calling LTD’s bluff. Maybe they’ll rehash once more the old joke made up by Sonic Youth and call for another scribe’s head in song. (I’d suggest they write a letter, but it seems that’s a foregone conclusion.) Or maybe they’ll simply continue to confuse portions of the undifferentiated humanity that fills 42nd Street. Respectable, in its way.