Thursday, August 10, 2006

critical mass

I really shouldn't bother with this.

I'm like two days late to the party since this went up, but my favorite (seriously, it is, somehow) indie music pacesetting website went and got me all out of sorts this morning. Lollapalooza was reviewed, or rather assassinated, by our snarky friends, which doesn't really bother me. I wasn't there, Lollapalooza is a far cry from what it was when I was attending it...*shudder*...15 years ago or so, and I'm not in the business of defending massively corporate-sponsored music festivals.

That said...

I just want critical or even eye-witness reports of such an event to give it to me straight, and not serve some axe that's gotta be ground to a razor's edge because of the above facts. Frankly, the lineup was pretty great. Flaming Lips? Gnarls Barkley? Wilco? Sure, there were some clunkers (Chili Peppers, Widespread Panic), as there are for all--yes, ALL--music festivals. But give me the feeling that you're covering this the same way as you would if, say, these bands had been playing the festival that your own publication sponsors. Would the crowd be chastized for being older, having strollers and not bursting into a group hug once they spied their matching wristbands like the True Festival of Communal Good Vibes that is the Pitchfork Festival? Would Wayne Coyne still be judged as "indie rock's carrot top"? Would Wilco be dismissed as playing "Midwestern anthems"? I somehow doubt it.

Let's just say I take issue with his review. Let's say I think he's full of shit when he says Iron & Wine isn't meant for a large venue (I saw them at the Wiltern with Calexico last year and they were incredible). Let's say that I doubt the only suitable adjective for the soloing by Wolfmother and the Raconteurs is "shameful." I'm not big fans of either band, but is this 1977? Are we back to being embarrassed by musicians exhibitiing technical veracity? Should we take away the Arcade Fire's violins? And are we to assume that your positive words for the soon-to-be-departed Sleater Kinney were because they didn't feature any guitar solos?

Let me just say above all that I think the motives behind this slash piece are questionable. You want to hate on an overly sponsored alt-rock fest that's struggling for relevance? Fine. But don't do it at the expense of bands that are championed on your pages, possibly only because they dared play in the same city as you two weeks after your own festival. It seems disingenuine and not just a little petty.

Again, I probably shouldn't have bothered with this. The chorus of P-fork haters who still read the damn thing every day is loud enough already. I guess it's because I read the damn thing that I want it to be better than something like this.

'It's So Easy to Get Bored,' by Helmet

This one's for you, Rob Mitchum. I've read your reviews and liked your stuff, what happened here? Did you really only enjoy three performances over three days?

It's rumored that Page Hamilton was inspired by a nasty and probably difficult to impress critic for this little tune in 1997, and it's the first that came to mind for this case. It's not the usual Helmet song, it's not terribly heavy and there aren't the same start-stop hitches of guitar squalls and silence. In fact given the comparitively midtempo pace it's almost even pretty, about as pop as these guys got. It's from the last Helmet album before they broke up and never played another note (That's right, the last two albums never happened, do you understand me? Never happened.)

Enjoy, Pitchforkers. Hope one day to check out your flawless festival to see what made Lollapalooza seem like such a miserable time for all concerned.

Buy 'Aftertaste' at Insound


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