Category Archives: Events

B-Fargz Rallies to Restore Sanity

America has clearly seen better days. With infrastructure crumbling, high
school and college graduation rates no longer at their pinnacle, and the
TEA Party rearing its ugly, angry head like a serpent bent on total
ignorant and wanton destruction of that very thin line between “We the
people” and “We the mega corporation” any objective observer could look at
us from the outside and merely utter “holy shit” at the sight of it.
With the economic conditions in shambles comes anger and righteous
populism; however, it has never boiled down quite like this. The yelling
and the name-calling has reached a new level of vitriol, hyperbole and
paralysis, the likes of which we have never seen. While this is all going
on, our media sources have largely played into the TEA Party by giving
them plenty of exposure without doing nearly enough to question the
motives of their leaders and the TEA Partiers themselves.
It has gotten so bad that it took two comedians—not elected officials,
news casters, or community officials—to take the initiative to attempt to
restore sanity and civility to our undeniably fractured level of
discourse, and to pull back a country that leapt off the deep end of
things a very long time ago. John Stewart’s beckoning to restore sanity at
a rally on the National Mall was met with laughter, but below the surface
was greeted with a dire need to make good on it.
It had not really dawned on me to actually attend—in fact, I am not part
of the “Million moderate march” as Stewart put it—I am an outspoken
progressive NY Democrat. However, as a student of politics and history, I
realize the need for civility amongst our civic life—and not just the
half-assed attempts at bipartisanship politicians like to throw around to
court vacillating voters around election time, but the need to have adult
conversations about the direction as a collective body politic we need to
take.
*       *       *
I met up with Brad and Ashley in Penn Station in New York City.
Coincidentally, we all almost missed our train due to delays or poor
reading skills. Luckily for us the train was delayed a few minutes and we
got on fine. Brad and I went to college together and we started talking
about how life after graduation had not really worked out as well as we
would have hoped. Ashley is currently a journalism student at the
University the two of us attended. School had been my safe haven from the
brutal economic realities; unfortunately, being in school was not exactly
a saving grace for Ashley: humanities programs are being targets to our
alma matter for cuts (“The world within reach” my ass. Great to see you
still have the money to throw down on losing sports teams though).
It really strikes you about the situation we find our country in as Amtrak
hovers along, bumping and squealing mechanically around Philadelphia. Just
from the window of the train car you can see abandoned factories littered
with broken windows. Rust adorns the sides of the building where, one can
assume, there used to be paint. Inside these hollowed structures probably
exist the jobs and the products that used to occupy the building. Long
gone are those days. The part of Baltimore we passed through was desolate;
certainly that part of the city had seen livelier times. Three-story
houses standing without purpose, boards over the windows and doors. It
looked like a scene directly out of the TV show The Wire. Their past
remains a daunting reminder of where we find ourselves today. It is almost
as if the cruel specter of the American dream that once was has appeared
to guide us out of the wilderness. Too bad ghosts do not have a lobbying
team.

While we may have passed through what is commonly called “rust belt”

areas, we also passed through much of the sterile suburban areas America
became famous for. William Levitt broke ground in Levittown in the 1950s.
So many people, mostly on the right (generally) are yelling that we should
return to that era. Times were simpler then, they argue. This is true.
What is also true is many people in that era did not have rights, and
cigarettes were basically considered a food group: oh, America, the
beautiful. These are the things that have been left out; we have moved
passed that, and moved together.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that almost my entire life has been spent
in a community like Levittown, and maybe it’s because through college I
worked my hardest to get out of said community, only to graduate and
return with no hope of leaving in sight, but these places do not do
anything for me. They have no character, as far as I can see. They are
this Mecca of insulation that I cannot accurately explain to people who
are not from a similar background. It was very clear to see the sharp
contrast in landscape on the American continent, and we were only going on
a five hour train ride. The difference in landscape reflects the very
difference among our electorate.
Ashley and I talked for a while about the election, which at this point
was five days away and it looked as though the Democratic Party would be
losing the House of Representatives faster than you could say “Change you
could believe in”. We spoke at length about the TEA Party, which we both
seemed to come to many accords on; we also agreed that given the
circumstances, people have a right to be angry and frustrated, that people
could disagree on matters of policy; however, it comes with great
importance for the country that you be constructive about it. This is
something that the TEA Party has yet to show maturity—despite their
maturity—about.

*       *       *

We got to DC and wandered around Union Station aimlessly for a little bit.
A transit authority worker was gracious enough to show us how to get
tickets and point us to our train. We were staying in a hotel in a
neighborhood indicated by the subway map as Roslyn. After we found the
hotel, we ventured off around the neighborhood to find a bite to eat.
As we sat down at a table, we heard the family next to us talking about
the rally. The young woman and her children told us they were from North
Carolina. We spoke for a little while. I indicated that I hoped that we
got more people to show up than Glenn Beck did. She agreed and said that
we would exceed his rally. She then added, “Anyone with half a brain will
come to this. It’s going to be great.”
We woke up early the next day to get set for the rally. The packed metro
trains, and phone calls early from other friends attending indicated to me
that this was going to be huge. As we climbed out of the subway station we
saw a sea of people walking towards the national mall. Not to sound corny,
but it was awe inspiring in a lot of ways.
As we settled into our spots, we started talking to the people next to us,
a couple around my parents’ age. They told me they were from Salsburry,
Maryland (I had asked if they were from Boston due to the Husband’s Red
Sox cap). They were friendly and engaging, and everything you would expect
of someone to be at a rally like this: a genuinely good person who cares
about the country’s direction. When they asked us where we were from this
conversation took place:
Me: “We’re from New York.”
Husband: “Oh, don’t hate us because of the hat!”
Me: “Oh, no, absolutely not. That is why we’re all here isn’t it? To
respect each other’s differences?“
We all laughed. They were good people. They also happened to run into the
only person in the state who could not care less about baseball.
One of the main aspects of the rally that immediately struck us was the
number of amazingly creative and funny signs we saw. Some of the notable
ones include:
“Obama, bring back Arrested Development!”
“Palin/Beck 2012. How did the Mayans get it so right?”
“Oregon representatives: GO DUCKS!”
“This sign isn’t nearly as high as I am.”
“I’m not you.”
“The Constitution belongs to us too.”
“Generic political slogan”

Amongst many others.
Members of the coffee party were also there. They were informative, not
pushy, and handed out free stickers—you can never go wrong with free
stickers. Soon though, it was time to start the rally.
The Roots started the rally off and were soon joined on stage by John
Legend. They played a few songs. They were very good and the crowd was
receptive. Soon Jon came out and thanked everyone for being there.
Apparently Stephen was afraid and came to the rally at first, via
satellite from his “fear cavern”. Soon Jon was able to convince Stephen
not to be afraid and he emerged from the cavern dressed appropriately: in
a Captain America Costume.
Soon after, the two guys from Myth Busters came on stage and did a few
experiments with the crowd. It was fun, but not really the highlight of
the day. Stephen and Jon then came back on stage as Jon invited Yusuf
Islam (better knows as Cat Stephens) to come on stage and play “Peace
Train.” Colbert cut his off and invited Ozzy Osborne on stage to play
“Crazy Train”. Jon and Stephen then argued about the train they wanted to
get on and settled on “Love Train” by the O’Jays.
The Daily Show correspondents were amongst the audience, playing both
sides of the media, in showing the protest as being a success and a
failure. It was a great critique on the spin and subjectivity that the
media presents as fact and made a great point.
Jon and Stephen then gave out awards for “Reasonableness” or “Fear”.
Reasonableness award winners:
1.      Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga (an umpire made a bad call ruining his
perfect game and Galarraga handled the mistake with grace).
2.      Velma Hart who asked very tough questions to the President at a town
hall, but kept her civility and said they experience was mutually
beneficial.
3.      Mick Foley who later threatened anyone who was not acting reasonable
saying, “If you get out of line, I will . . . come down there and politely
ask you to stop.”
4. Jacob Isom, the Youtube sensation who stopped someone from burning the
Koran.

Fear medalists include:
1.      The news organizations that would not let their employees go to the
rally for fear of “making them look bias.” The award was presented to
“Someone with more courage: a seven-year-old girl.”
2.      Anderson Cooper’s tight black t-shirt.
3.      Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater.
4.      Teresa Giudice (apparently there’s a TV show about New Jersey
Housewives. Why didn’t the rally include a need to stop reality TV?)
5.      Mark Zuckerberg

There were other musical acts, but I honestly do not remember enough about
them to talk about them. Tony Bennet did close with “I Left my Heart in
San Fransisco” and an Acapella version of “America the Beautiful”.
Karim Abdul Jabar also appeared as a “non-scary muslim”.
Stewart’s closing remarks were more along the lines of a plea with the
American people. He started with:
“I can’t control what people think this was.  I can only tell you my
intentions.   This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people
of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate
argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have
nothing to fear.  They are and we do.  But we live now in hard times, not
end times.  And we can have animus and not be enemies. “
He later went on to say “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.” His
criticisms of the press became more amplified as he stated: The press is
our immune system.  If we overreact to everything we actually get
sicker–and perhaps eczema.”
The rally was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone was civil, fun and well
behaved. It seemed as though everyone had a great time and it did not
seem as though anyone got too out of line. It seemed as though people
were speaking freely with one another and in general, just explaining why
they came down, opening discourse with people from different places and
offering perspective. If only our government could do that.
The rally in a lot of ways was a joke, and just a place to have a good
time. However, it says a lot that two comedians could fill the national
mall with the idea of restoring sanity and/or fear. Colbert’s “fear”
throughout the rally was distinguished by called to reasonableness. The
idea that the people not screaming hyperbole are not the majority was the
overarching theme, along with media’s incessant need to drive up ratings
by giving coverage to the loudest voice. Well, many of us need to not
have a horse voice for work tomorrow, so we never get heard.
Stewart’s plea was not particularly directed at the audience, but really,
directed from it. Stewart was making an effort to speak for those in
attendance, and those who had other things to do. The idea that our
politics and media are so intertwined with one another, that sanity could
be so easily lost, is insane. Stewart was not merely speaking as a
comedian, but as a citizen calling for the restoration of order to a
system that, by and large, is no longer the bastion of sanity it was
created to be. The congress and the public, in a lot of ways, seem to
have shifted roles: the congress now being the unruly mass, and the
public now being the carriers of sense. But it comes back to that small
fraction that yells the loudest being thought of as “the voice of the
people”. What Stewart proved is sometimes it is not those who speak the
loudest, but those who speak, and whose voice shakes as they do it. Those
who speak the truth—or the truthiness if you will.
It is sad that our discourse has gotten to the point where we no longer
look to our leaders to lead us out of the troubled times, but when we
turn to satire to take our minds off of the absurdities of it all.
However, Stewart and Colbert effectively channeled that absurdity into
something that was overwhelmingly positive.

What do Bo Burnham, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Reggie Watts, and Nada Surf, have in common?

What do Bo Burnham, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Reggie Watts, and Nada Surf, have in common? Well, for one, they all played Monday night at Rebel NYC at a free show to unofficially christen this year’s CMJ Music Marathon in NYC (a week of music, networking, and a lot of talk about the next big thing.) Somehow the show’s lineup—two musically-oriented comedians (who are otherwise almost perfect foils), a veteran indie band, and what might be the next big buzz band—actually felt alright. Despite being sardonically dubbed “Conflict of Interest,” it actually worked well. Though descriptively diverse, the identities of these performers actually have something in common that allowed for a cohesive showcase: every identity was a deliberate piece of their performance and never easy to read fully or take seriously. These four acts (I missed the first two—Oh Land and Kitten) were all very conscious of their stage personas…and I don’t mean that in a bad way…

Part 1 – Bo, yo

Bo Burnham is that awkward flamey teenage white theater kid on youtube who wears a tie-dye t-shirt while rapping and singing to his keyboard or guitar in his tiny bedroom. (Remember “I’m Bo yo!”?) But where can you really go from some funny youtube videos? I mean, no one’s going to take him seriously as a rapper with lines like “I’m a gay sea otter/I blow other dudes outta the water,” although you can’t say that a line like “Fucked a girl in an apple orchard and came in cider” wouldn’t be considered dope, if spat by a rapper with legit street cred. His comedian-ness apparently compels him to release CDs but his kind of comedy is very visual. In one of the more creative songs/routines that he did Monday night, he stood in front of the stage and silently reacted as critics, fake friends, and a potential agent spoke to him (in his voice, from a backup track) before pretending to remix the sound clips by tapping and punching the air to create new phrases and backup music. After adding Satan and Jesus to the mix (by pointing down and then up respectively—bestowing Jesus with an exaggeratedly gay accent) he settled on a loop that repeated “you think” “you know” “me” “you think” “you know” “me.” Even though his image was conceivably carefully calculated, effortlessly offensive (he made jokes about everything from the Eucharist to rape, and from slavery to Michael Jackson—all funny), and superficially sarcastic, there were moments like this (“you think” “you know” “me”) where he used his set to make blatant, if not explicitly articulated, indictments of his critics. This especially stood out during a set otherwise filled with rapid fire rapped jokes shot so fast that many flew by while my focus was still on the joke that had just passed. His comedy was mostly musical but carefully calculated and very visual. That was the theme of the night—mostly musical but carefully calculated and very visual.

So, Bo, a tall skinny white kid looking about 19, walked on stage to start his set in tight jeans and a tight faded purple shirt that said “Joker” on it (ironically ironic), and awkwardly sat down at the keys, hitting his audience with a quick jab: “So my girlfriend has this weird fetish where she likes to dress up like herself and act like a fucking bitch.” He got an easy and quick but hearty and deserved laugh with that accessible old-school zinger, as if to set the record straight that he was a real comedian and not just that kid on youtube. But, at the same time, he did his best to maintain that almost cute ignorant, awkward, whiteboy, image. Despite his persistence, though, there were one or two moments where his confidence got the best of him and I thought I saw a charismatic and bright 20something carefully masked by his awkwardly flamboyant comedic persona. Either way, the “real” Bo was elusive on stage and his act kept me guessing—while I was skeptical, I was more intrigued than distracted. His nuanced puns reflected the layers of irony he wore as his ostensibly honest but skillfully sculpted self. The one certain identity that he definitely deserves but will never be considered: dope emcee.

Part 2 – Jr. Jr.

Every year at CMJ there’s a band or two that emerges with a lot of indie cred as the next big thing (like cymbals eat guitars or black kids.) The problem is that the bands that do end up getting a lot of hype tend to be the ones that get a lot of hype because of the hype. People are so eager to anoint the next big thing–they know that if they don’t someone else will–that the musical skill or industry potential of the band is less important than the hype itself. These guys might be a good example of that. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t good.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.—a name that somehow seems more legit (but equally cute and ironic) attached to a band from Detroit Michigan—took the stage abruptly, doing the crowd a merciful favor by cutting off the extremely annoying MC (a girl in a belly shirt who apparently has a TV show on fuse.) The first thing that you noticed about these guys is that they were wearing full NASCAR bodysuits. (Well, at the least the two front men. The drummer was dressed unremarkably, soon to be matched by his drumming.) As soon as they dove into their set, it was obvious that the two lead singers had an MGMT-esque songwriting partnership. The exuberant not-quite-chubby one with curly hair and glasses mainly played guitar, while the other, who looked like Adrock after getting his wisdom teeth out, switched between guitar, keys, and sampler. But what did they sooound like? Well, they seemed to subscribe to the same set of influences as a band like Dinosaur Feathers. They (both) appear to listen to and draw subtly from Animal Collective but find more direct musical inspiration from the Beach Boys, the Beatles and Paul Simon/Vampire Weekend. Jr. Jr., though, were admirably not afraid to shock with a rocked-out-sample-ridden-climax or a pretty harmony, at any time. Their live show suggested that they’re one of those bands not scared of mincing identities and tossing them just as quickly. By dressing up so ridiculously, you can only really judge them by their music which is what you have to take seriously (rather than themselves.) A solid, though maybe accidental, strategy. The un-NASCARed-out drummer was an afterthought. Although his beats were quieter than the drum loops, he did add something to the band. Compared to a band like Dinosaur Feathers, these guys just sounded fuller. Dinosaur Feathers did figure out that a bass is important though. And Jr. Jr. appear to acknowledge that too—after a mostly bass-less set, one of them played bass on each of the last two songs which was necessary (and effective) for them to go out with a bang.

Part 3 – Watts/Left

The first thing you notice about Reggie Watts is his huuge afro. Seriously. It’s massive. He looks like a cross-between ?uestlove and Adam Duritz. His set was funny at times but it was more musical and impressive than strictly comedic. Like Bo (and the bands for that matter) his set revolved around songs. And his songs revolved around his brilliant ability to beat box, tightness with a loop station and taste with effects pedals. Unlike Bo, Watts created all of his sounds live, making extensive and effective use of panning. The dude can sing too. (Using a chorus effect, he sounded like the singer of TV on the Radio at times.)

After the first song, he spoke a little. His English accent suggested that, at one time, he might have actually pronounced CMJ as “smidge” or Biggie as “Bidgy” (as he did for laughs.) I spent the ensuing song searching desperately for traces of his accent in his vocals. I wasn’t sure if I found it. After that song, he spoke with a flamey Southern accent and I realized the prior English accent was a bloody sham! Someone who could easily be pigeonholed by his visual identity as an afroed-beat-boxing-black-dude, turned out to be a comedic chameleon with epic command. It was great. His last song that mocked hip-hop (“leave you hands by your sides!”) and included a tribute to Eyedea (who passed away earlier this week). As Reggie’s set closed and he rushed (seamlessly) through accents and personalities, it became more and more obvious that I wasn’t going to pinpoint this dudes “real” identity either. He appeared to break character a few times but as soon as I believed him, he would break character again, revealing the previous identity as façade.

Nada Surf closed the set. They went on about an hour late but it wasn’t their fault, the whole show had been behind schedule and, since it was free, I could understand them delaying acts to sell drinks and push promo shit. Nada Surf took the stage looking confidently like the indie rock vets that they are: the skinny drummer had curly hair, a nice shirt, and a tie; the guitarists also had button up shirts and deliberate hair. The bassist, on the other hand, had huge dreads (died partly blonde), his shirt slightly open to reveal a douchey necklace, a glow-in-the-dark bass that he wore super low and played super loud, and a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. I found myself once again thinking ‘Is this guy for real?’ The two main dudes (a blonde guitarist/singer and the aforementioned bassist—the other guitarist was revealed to hail from Guided by Voices) looked like Lenny Kravitz circa 1993 playing with Justin Beiber circa 2021. Their music? Solid but bland. I left early.

All in all, great show. The mixed format (indie and comedy) really worked, probably because the comedians performed songs (and each band came off as a joke, in one form or another. Both bands parodied indie rock, whether they knew it or not.) The fluid identities worked especially well for the CMJ (or “smidge”) crowd. Hipsters have a hard time finding their own identity floating in a sea of like-minded, well, floaters. CMJ is a characteristically superficial festival (it’s about bands, labels, writers, distros, etc, networking more than about music) and thus a perfect place to exhibit your insincere self. It was a great show. Should be a great week. Maybe I’ll find myself. Better yet: maybe I’ll be there to anoint the next big thing. Here’s my guess: the rise of the explicit subterranean identity crisis. (See: Das Racist. But don’t actually waste your time seeing them.)

Panda Bear at Governor’s Island

On September 11th around 8pm I headed over to Governor’s Island to take in some of the most unique music I’ve heard in a while in a powerful environment. Getting off the water taxi, I had a clear view of the Sept. 11th memorial lights shining from Ground Zero. The ambiance surrounding that made for a really memorable concert. Nothing I can say here can give justice to the full experience but here are some of my (incoherent at times) thoughts:

Teengirl Fantasy was one of the openers for Panda Bear. Reigning from my roommate’s hometown in New Jersey, they delivered what any concert-goer would want to hear from an opener. Heavy beats and dub-house cuts got the crowd energized. My only qualm is that they were followed by co-opener Gala Drop from Portugal. The first few tracks from Gala Drop were interesting and kept the crowd wanting more but as their set progressed the music and the crowd’s attention span digressed. Everyone got a little antsy waiting through their set and yelling/booing ensued.

Panda Bear finally took the stage around 11pm. Coming out in a gray sweatshirt it was all about the music from the beginning. He opened with “Drone” which slowly faded into “Daily Routine”. Teasing the audience, Panda Bear would play chunks of “Daily Routine” he knew the crowd would know and then quickly revert back into newer material. All of his new stuff was some of the most original and enjoyable music I’ve heard in at least the past year. The lighting (especially in “Comfy in Nautica”), extreme amounts of fog, and the video piece added to the phycidelic feel. One of my favorite pieces live was “Ponytail” which exemplified Panda Bear’s art of mixing textures with captivating harmony.

Setlist:
Drone
Daily Routine
Tomboy
Guys Eyes
Surfer’s Hymn
Ponytail
Comfy In Nautica
Slow Motion
Last Night At The Jetty
Benfica
Bullseye
You Can Count on me

Encore:
Alsatian Darn
I Think I Can/Chores

Upcoming ticket giveaways

WCDB is giving away over 60 tickets in the upcoming weeks, here’s what they’re for and how you can win.
Listen online http://wcdbfm.com/ListenLive.aspx
or tune in to 90.9 in the NY capital district

What: HANK WILLIAMS III
The Crazed Country Rebel
& ASS JACK
HELL’S HOUSE BAND
When: Tuesday,September 7, 7pm doors * 8pm show * 16+
Where: NorthernLights

What: ZIGGY MARLEY
When: Friday,September 17
7:30pm doors * 8:30pm show *16+
Where: NorthernLights

What: DEFTONES
When: 7pmdoors * 8pm show
Tuesday, September 21
Where: NorthernLights

What: THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM
with special guests:
Fake Problems * Bridge and Tunnel
When: 6:30doors * 7:30 show * 16+
Sunday, September 26
Where: NorthernLights

What: WE ARE SCIENTISTS
When: Wednesday,October 13, 7pm doors * 8pm show * 18+
Where: Valentine’s

What: GWAR
with special guests:
The Casulaties * Infernaeon * Mobile Death Camp
When: 6:30pm doors * 7:30pm show * 16+, Friday, October 15
Where: NorthernLights

What: BAD RELIGION with specialguests:
Bouncing Souls * Off With Their Heads
When: Saturday,October 16 7pm doors* 8pm show. *16+
Where: NorthernLights

What: THE MISFITS
with special guests:
Juicehead * The Viking
Blaze Debris * The Black Tie Operation
When: Wednesday,October 20,
6pm doors * 6:30pm show * 16+
Where: NorthernLights

What: SOCIAL DISTORTION
with special guests:
Lucero * Frank Turner
When: 7pmdoors * 8pm show * 16+
Thursday, October 28
Where: NorthernLights

What: MATT and KIM
with specialguests:
Donnis
When: Sunday,October 31
6:30 doors * 7:30pm show * 16+
Where: NorthernLights

What: STEVEN WRIGHT
When: Saturday,November 6, 7pm doors * 8pm show * all ages
Where: The Egg

Camp Bisco ticket giveaway is tomorrow (Saturday)!

Tune into DJ Andrew Dubs’ show between 6-10pm tomorrow for your chance to win tickets to this year’s CAMP BISCO festival in Mariaville, NY (only 20 minutes away from Albany)! Here’s how to win- once Andrew Dubs announces the giveaway on the air, be the ninth caller and you’ll score two free passes + camping accommodations to this summer’s hottest music festival.

Once again, this fest will be running from July 15-17 in Mariaville NY, with artists including The Disco Biscuits, LCD Soundsystem, Ween, Thievery Corporation, Girl Talk, Diplo, & many, many more. Find out more info at http://www.campbisco.net.

CAMP BISCO TICKET GIVEAWAY ON DJ ANDREW DUBS’ SHOW
Saturday, July 9th between 6-10pm
Tune in at 90.9FM, or at http://www.wcdbfm.com click listen live!

Good luck!
-The WCDB 90.9FM Team