CMJ Day 3: Thank God Mission of Burma Has a Drummer


The King Khan drummer/guitarist/swami guy at an earlier, better-dressed fete. CREDIT.

Mission of Burma/King Khan & BBQ Show/The Dutchess and the Duke/Jay Reatard
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Thursday, October 23

Hey everybody, it’s time for the Born Too Late to Be Featured on a Nuggets Compilation extravaganza! Garage rock as delivered to a packed house of Rhapsody-induced revelers who don’t even live in buildings with garages! Watch in terror as the endearingly manic and not-quite-as-endearingly feedback-saturated Jay Reatard flails around so wantonly he nearly punches his bassist in the face, perhaps out of pique at being way too far down on this bill! Fixate on the quite lovely harmonies betwixt the Duchess and the Duke (plus a Beatle Bob dead-ringer on maracas), and politely sidestep the fact that they don’t have a whole lot more going for them!

Enough with the exclamation points!

The painstakingly wacky King Khan arrives next, eschewing, like the D&D, a conventional drummer in favor of Bugs Bunny one-man-band shenanigans, i.e. the dude in the swami headgear stomps on foot pedals connected to bass and snare drums, with some tambourine thrown in. Meanwhile, the proudly out-of-shape gentleman wearing a garish, skimpy, teenage girl’s outfit three sizes too small for him duck-walks across the stage — not quite Chuck Berry, but a decent approximation of Chuck Berry’s libido. They are louder, cheerier, raunchier, and far more crowd-beloved than their predecessors, but boy does the WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP get old fast. Is there a worldwide drummer shortage? Anything we can do to help?

Ah, but. Mission of Burma. Even at a festival so slavishly devoted to the new and ephemeral, they are warmly welcomed (by me, and the half of the crowd that remained after King Khan, bleagh), blaring through “1,001 Pleasant Dreams” (from 2006’s The Obliterati, which I am that much closer to asserting is the best thing they’ve ever done) with the vivacity and brutality of youth. “This is Not a Photograph”!! “Academy Fight Song!!” A particularly fantastic “2wice”!! Ironically, my notes at this point largely consist of exclamation points.