photo from pitchfork's facebook page
Our Band Could Be Your Life tribute at Bowery Ballroom (Stereogum review)
Our Concert Could Be Your Life (streaming on NPR)
When this show was first announced, my reaction was pretty negative (I think my exact words were "fuck everything about this"). It seemed like a personal affront to me that the man who had written a book about some my favorite bands, and some of the most important bands of the 80's, was putting on a tribute show featuring performances by bands that sounded NOTHING like the groups they were covering. How could it be showing respect to groups like Blag Flag, Big Black, Butthole Surfers and others by staging performances by bands that are not in any way connected to the sounds of those original bands? I understood that The Dirty Projectors had released an album that was at least conceptually connected to Black Flag, even if sonically it had virtually nothing to do with them. But the selection of St Vincent to cover Big Black I could not understand. Oh lord how it made me mad- I had visions in my head of her taking the stage, whipping out a violin, and winking and laughing through a set of ironic Big Black covers. In fact it was such an outrage to me that I tried my hardest to forget the whole thing was happening at all. But yesterday the show did happen, and today my blood pressure spiked when I saw reviews of it popping up on music websites. I almost decided to ignore the reviews for the sake of my happiness and mental health, not wanting to spend the rest of the day fuming about the desecration of music I hold dear. But I took the plunge and watched a few videos, and to my immense relief my expectations were totally wrong about this show. St Vincent's performance of Kerosene not cutesy or fake or ironic, its a performance that actually respects the original. And it's a shock to see the Dirty Projectors playing Black Flag songs not as Dirty Projector songs, but instead more like they originally sounded, with a now long-haired Dave Longstreth forgoing his vocal acrobatics for guttural barking. These were the two performances I was most personally interested in, so I can't really say if the rest of the show was as good as these two, but you can check out the whole concert streaming at NPR, or check out loopyvid's youtube channel for other performances from the show.