Best shower ever. I feel much better.
Now, where was I?
After cavorting around the outskirts of town all afternoon, I headed back into the grid to La Zona Rosa to see Be Your Own Pet. I thought that nobody but me, a few other music critics and some BBC DJs cared about this band of teenagers from Nashville, but I guess I was way off, because the place was packed. BYOP weren’t amazing–their bratty pop-punk is a little too predictable and they haven’t quite mastered the art of commanding a crowd yet, but give them time. The bassist still has braces! (And a fro that would make the Mars Volta jealous, too.) But the singer, a Rock and Roll Camp For Girls alum, is hottie blonde southern belle jailbait who should totally capitalize on the fact that Britney Spears is a married stepmom. Get her on some magazine covers NOW!
All day, I kept seeing this guy in a suit walking with a cane. I assumed he was some major label A&R big cheese or something. Turns out he was the singer from the Kaiser Chiefs, my second-favorite XTC/Madness/Specials-aping bouncy pop band from the UK right now. (My favorite being Dogs Die In Hot Cars, who I’m going to see tonight.) The cane was not just for show– dude actually had a cast and no shoe on one foot. But that didn’t stop him from hopping around like some kind of crazed pegleg pirate, or whacking a cowbell like it had said something naughty about his mum. He mostly toughed it out, only sitting on a stool for a couple of songs. During the climax of their breakout hit “I Predict a Riot,” he even dove into the crowd and sang the chorus from there. When he climbed back on stage, I could see him wincing in pain. He made some comment about the painkillers wearing off. Now THAT’s rock and roll.
After Kaiser Chiefs, I booked it across town to Elysium to see M.I.A. I was greeted by a gigantic line outside the club. So I waited. And waited. I waited so long, I managed to make two new friends, read the entire SXSW issue of Vice, make up my schedule for today and get a new freelance gig at a New York paper. Pretty productive, huh? When I finally made it inside Elysium, I was shocked to find that the place was only about 3/4 full. It better have been some sort of fire code thing, or else me and all the other people who waited in line for an hour and a half are gonna riot.
Of course, M.I.A. was worth the wait, even if I only got to see her last three songs (Fortunately, they included “Bucky Done Gun,” “Galang” and “URAQT”). Unlike when I saw her at the Knitting Factory last month, she didn’t look like she was lip-synching. She seemed way more comfortable this time, too, like she was actually enjoying being on stage. Diplo was there spinning (doesn’t he look like he should be an Abercrombie model?), and she was accompanied by a dancer/hype girl. I busted wack-ass moves all over the place, probably embarrassing myself in front of all sorts of important people, but whatever. You expect me to stand still when the beats are this hot?
The place cleared out after M.I.A., which was a shame because Hot Chip, who played next, are SO going to be the next big thing. They sound a lot like the Junior Boys (smooth R&B meets IDM lap-pop), but they are also way goofy. One guy is about 5 feet tall and looks like Gary Wilson, one guy looks like a football thug, everybody else is skinnindie. They all stand in a row at the front of the stage playing synthesizers, which reminded me of Kraftwerk. And their dancing was so bad it made mine look good.
I talked about LCD Soundsystem, the headliners, in my post last night, but I would just like to add a few more thoughts. One: James Murphy is fucking hilarious. After every song, he spent about five minutes telling the sound guy what to fix, then yelling at hecklers who dared to shout “shut up and play!” At one point he said, “We aren’t having any technical difficulties. This is like an art project.” Fischerspooner, take that! He made fun of the crowd, he made fun of himself, he made fun of the sound guy. I still think he’s probably a jerk in real life, but maybe a loveable jerk. Two: one of the percussionists was wearing a button for a publicity company, which would be lame, except for the fact that it wasn’t the publicity company that works LCD, it’s their arch-rival! How punk rock.
At one point, I walked by M.I.A. and James Murphy standing next to each other. The Pitchfork staff writer inside me totally got a boner.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 18, 2005