Is Lo-Fi the New Hair Metal?
Summer 2009 was undoubtedly the summer of lo-fi. As soon as spring broke, the genre’s finest purveyors of skuzz, grim, and hiss hijacked the blogosphere, along with nearly every venue in Brooklyn, legal or otherwise. Old favorites returned again for another round (Vivian Girls, Times New Viking, The Black Lips), newbies broke onto the scene with a vengeance (Wavves, Woods, Crystal Stilts, Small Black, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart), while one of lo-fi pop’s godfathers (The Clean) released a career retrospective (“Anthology”) and a new album (“Mister Pop”). And there’s more, I’m sure…
But if summer 2009 was the summer of lo-fi, then last weekend’s Brooklyn bar brawl between Wavves’ Nathan Williams, Black Lips’ Jared Swilley and their assorted lady friends, hangers-on, etc. was surely its sorry conclusion. You’ve probably read about the madness on Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan, and the like, but suffice it to say that the cops showed up, Swilley ended up with a bloody head, and the word “faggot” was used an obscene amount of times. Here’s a brief rundown from Pop Jew:
I didn’t see the beginning, but I did see people dragging Nathan and Jared apart, and then Jared and a popular DJ running at Nathan again, spilling beer all over everyone (including me), and punches being thrown. The lights at Daddy’s were turned on, the cops showed up, but Jared and the chick were not ready to stop fighting and were even trying to fight other people outside the bar. Jared was bloody. Nathan was fine. Insane. Weirdest indie rock moment I’ve experienced.
No kidding. Who knew skinny boys with guitars could be so violent? The image of guys who specialize in tinny, small-speaker rock ’n’ roll (not that there’s anything wrong with that) gettin’ all agro, throwing beer bottles at each other, and attracting the ire of New York’s finest at 4 a.m. is a little hard to swallow. It’s all so decadent, so rock star, so hair metal. Looks like they’re gonna have to start patting fans down at the Music Hall of Williamsburg next time Jay Reatard comes through town.
If there’s any upside to this whole fiasco, it’s the blow it deals to the stereotype that indie kids are all a bunch of limp-wristed vegetarians who wouldn’t (and couldn’t) pick a fight with a ladybug. Just because you record on a four-track doesn’t mean you can’t hit like an eighteen-wheeler. There’s something oddly comforting in the knowledge that the toast of the indie-verse can still be party to the same petty shit all of us can be after a few too many PBRs.
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