Why New York Hates Rock Music



Comic Book guy.jpg
By the end of the weekend, several dudes at the WFMU record fair looked like this

Luomo, WFMU, and Why New York Hates Rock Music

November 5

Maybe this makes no sense, but I cut loose after Luomo’s first few jams — dude’s my favorite house producer in the world and I’m content leaving him as such. How bummed I’d be to find out the guy who made Vapaa Muurari or the almighty Vocalcity was a complete asshole, or worse. Villalobos misses his flights for a reason.

But what I saw — pretty fantastic. Never one to smack heads with a fat drop or obnoxious melody, Luomo stretched out a vocal edit of Jacko’s “Beat It” over commie longtones that didn’t pulse from the speakers so much as float in mid-air, hotboxing a mostly dudes with glasses room more likely to sweat the drum programming than cut a rug.

The drum programming was worth sweating though, and Rothko’s got no rugs anyway. People like to hang Luomo’s drums for their softness and underwhelm, but sorry, that’s the charm. Luomo’s non-arithmetical, more one of those Taylor series jobs, the wide expanse of his tracks gaining momentum not from his top-down, but from the relentless sum of small surprises. Right when we think he’ll throw the kicks back into the mix, he waits another three or so beats, stuff like that, always with patience-rewarding swoop. In a genre prized for dancefloor murder, Luomo refuses the big kill.

Random, but I wonder to what extent people missed the point on his Black Dice remix. Really it’s a Luomo track before it’s a Black Dice remix anyway; he took a track with big moments and quantifiable movements then sucked out the gravity. For eight minutes the disembodied parts fruitlessly try to find their mates — the track’s sad, infinitely pessimistic, with no final product but the process.

WFMU Record Fair
Metropolitan Pavilion
November 6

Easily the craziest thing I’ve been to in five days. Billions of records, maybe thousands, rare German psych this and expensive Latin-American hip-hop import that and absolutely no place to start, not one — a sea of acetate and comic book guys. Listen, I wouldn’t pay $100 to meet the Beatles. (I would pay $1 for the Redbone debut.)

“I need a teleology,” said my friend Erik, the most teleological person I know. You can’t go to this thing without knowing (a) exactly what you want, or (b) an itinerary of sorts that can lead you to records you want. Which is why Riff Raff has compiled a few itineraries for the next Record Fair — feel free to use them yourself:

  • This fair’s always crawling with celebrities and celebrity types. Next year try looking for the Saturday Night Live star you most resemble. (The answer is always Horatio Sanz.)
  • Find a rare German psych record for less than $300. (The answer is hiding inside Horatio Sanz’s secret wooden leg.)
  • With a friend, set up a stand by the Two Boots pizza stand, called Two Dudes — Pizza? The idea is that people will pay you, and give you free pizza.

The Constantines + Oxford Collapse
Bowery Ballroom
November 6

Had heard good things re: the Oxford Collapse show — most true. The Brooklyn trio belted through heavy backbeat vs. needly guitar rock like indie liked to do before Pavement and Palace fucked everything up. The one Karnofsky-looking dude yelps counterpoint on the verse of “Proofreading” and he sounds awful — first high school band awful. But the stakes are damn high aren’t they. If the band plays the song loud and fast and hard and perfect enough, sounds like, something, somewhere will change — maybe they’ll make something new. Who plays guitar rock like that anymore?

Apparently the Constantines? Where was everybody? Listen, I’m the first to admit that getting wrapped up in the latest gimmick is f-f-fun, while trudging through the shitloads of mediocre indie bands releasing records ‘just because’ is really more work than reward.

But here’s more proof that guitar rock’s alive and well and capable of new ideas — another band we’ll talk about in five years as one we forgot when we were too busy fawning over terrorist chic or the rock-dance crossover or hip-hop’s commercialization of urban stereotypes.

The i-word‘s key here — Cons just say no. Cuz the i-word’s a shortcut, a fail-safe, overly abused excuse (at this point) for some of the most half-assed rock songwriting. Some of the best too, but following the i-word is a shadow of deep pessimism, unshakeable anxiety of influence, disbelief in the new. To think, these days the Jesus Lizard would actually struggle for an audience. In 2005 no more punches, just punchlines.

When the Cons came out pumping fists, singing like Stewarts and Springsteens and wringing songs like the remarkably uptight “Hotline Operator” or the BTO-repping “Working Full-Time” for Rock&Roll Essence — believing that R&R E is even a thing — the message read clear. Too many bands there are trying to impress us, hoping we’ll “really dig what they’re doing,” and not enough bowing us over by sheer anthemic force, making us believe something, anything. Poor New York’s a godless town (‘cept everyone here thinks he’s god, zing); maybe that’s why we stayed away last night.