When our esteemed music publicist RR reached out to me (KCRW DJ Marion Hodges) and Mario to reprise our legendary Girls vs. Boys FYF Fest preview, my first thought was; FYF blog post? Eff Yeah!
I aproached my (extensive) research exactly as I did this time last year, with a head count meant to lead to a ratio comparison of the number of male and female artists taking part in the proceedings. Um, WTF FYF?
The majority of this year’s partcipants look as though they could easily form, and then successfully maintain, an indie/punk rock branch of the “He Man Woman Haters Club.”
O.k., o.k… calm down sensitive indie dudes, thems are jokes. I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect! FYF is not nearly the sausage fest I’m leading you to believe it is in the sentences above. I will say though, much like last year, I had to get a little creative in order to tap into FYF’s underlying girl power. Before we get into all of that though…
Here is Mario to explain why he thinks that men should rule the world, oh wait, they already do. Well, anyway… take it away Mario!
Everything Marion said is true. I think men should rule the world. I am a man. As such I now proclaim myself the King of Everything…including your FYFFest experience. So…take heed to these many awesome band suggestions and see them all and all the other bands at the festival too…because I am a benevolent king I’ve provided a few streamable samples of the bands. Enjoy! Enjoy the Festival! And have a great Labor Day Weekend!
BOYS: Death From Above 1979: I’ve seen DFA1979 twice. Once at the Echo in the spring of 2005. And then this past spring on the main stage at Coachella. Both times were some of the best live music I’ve ever seen. Basically, the raw power…the energy flying off the stage and through the speakers was like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Nazis open the ark and all those ghosts shoot like lighting bolts into peoples faces. Considering that Nirvana was three dudes, and here you’ve got just two dudes (Canadians, even! I KEEEED) making all that noise, you may find yourself slack-jawed, staring at the stage wondering what the hell is going on…that is if you’re not too busy jumping, dancing, and freaking out like a 5 year old full of sugar.
GIRLS: Purity Ring: I had never heard of Purity Ring before I sat down to write this post, but since I was desperate to have as accurate a reading of the Festival’s estrogen levels as possible, I decided I should probably further investigate every band on the bill before jumping to any crazy conclusions. Like DFA 1979, Purity Ring are a dynamic Canadian duo. Unlike DFA 1979, Purity Ring are a girl/boy combo that make strange, beautiful, electronic compositions. The mere two (!) recordings that are currently available from this beguiling team are insanely addictive. And while all of the fascinating structural complexities can all be credited to Corin Roddick (the boy half of the equation), it’s the life-affirming vocal stylings of lead singer Megan James that will really keep you coming back for more. Every account that I’ve read of their live show involves people either; a.) Begging for them come back through their town immediately, b.) Begging for them to release a full length, or c.) Both of the above. It’s usually option c.
BOYS: The Dead Milkmen: These guys playing at FYF excites me endlessly. As a homeboy/churchkid in North Philly, my going to punk rock shows Downtown in my youth was simply out of the question. Even if I could sneak out of Bible Study to check out a Dead Milkmen show at the Trocadero, I wouldn’t have known anyone who was going. At the time I was listening to mixtapes of freestyle and Amy Grant. Go figure.
However, I remembered kids in higher grades talking about them and exchanging cassettes of Beezlebubba and wearing the awesome t-shirts with a dead cartoon cow face. Years later I discovered “Big Lizard…” & “Bucky Fellini” and was proud at the fact that a bunch of Philadelphia dudes with terrible Philly accents had taken the gravity of punk and turned it into a huge joke without sacrificing any of the energy. These guys were going to be punker than punk by not even caring about what it meant. I believe in “Swordfish.”
GIRLS: YACHT: Is there a comparison to be drawn between YACHT and the Dead Milkmen? Not really, but I’m pretty sure that there is some way to trace the origin of a band like YACHT back to pretty much all of the bands that were targeted in the Dead Milkmen’s hilarious (and to this day unnervingly spot on) 1987 single “Instant Club Hit (You’ll Dance to Anything),” a song that gleefully took to task painfully arty Americans who would spend hours dolling themselves up every night so they could go to clubs and show off their moves to cheery ditties from the likes of Siouxsie Sioux and the Smiths.
Case in point, the first time I saw YACHT was at a club called Part Time Punks, a club that has entire dance nights devoted to both Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Smiths… I’ve seen YACHT twice actually, both times were during the stage where it was just one guy, his laptop, and a whole lot of spastic movement to his glitchy dance pop punk anthems. Now, I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “Really? We’re only two bands into this and she’s already conceded the girl angle for a band that used to be just one man? Tsk tsk.” You bring up a valid point, but the addition of Claire L. Evans has helped produce most of YACHT’s strongest work to date (“Physic City/Voodoo City,” “Paradise Engineering,” “Shangri-La“). Plus, when YACHT was just one dude he had a song whose entire lyric consisted of “Women of the world, take over, cause if you don’t the world will come to an end, and it won’t take long.” That’s what a feminist looks like. The now mighty duo of Evans and the afore mentioned dude, Jona Bechtolt becomes even mightier on tour with the addition of a full band. From all reports they absolutely killed it when they played KCRW’s World Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Any band that can rule at the Hollywood Bowl, I have full confidence in to do the same at the Los Angeles State Historic Park.
BOYS: Girls: At times painfully earnest but always sunshine-jangly, San Francisco’s Girls writes catchy songs about what it’s like to be young in America right now. Idealistic, horny, romantic, lost, and excitable, Girls’ music marries the classic summery sound of the West Coast and the sensitive flowerchild heart of “The Graduate,” and brings it up to date in the age of Facebook & Twitter & tumblr & sexting & Youtube comments. Girls’ lack of irony or cynicism is their greatest strength and results in a moving listening experience, having never seen them live, I’m interested to see how it translates.
GIRLS: Broken Social Scene: Girls and Broken Social Scene both have a modern day sort of hippie, but not quite vibe to them.
You know what Broken Social Scene has that Girls don’t though? Girls! In fact, while the constants of BSS have always been Kevin Drew, and Brendan Canning - the two men who started the project in 1999 – the group’s most constant cause for acclaim is the women they’ve chosen to work with. Well, to be fair, the acclaim came mostly from the collective’s ability to piece together sounds, instruments, voices, and feelings into something that was entirely their own.
Still, it’s the women whose work outside of BSS has tended to resonate the loudest, and has drawn many people back to where it all started. Whether it’s Amy Milan stradling the line between bedroom pop and stadium ready anthems with her band Stars, Emily Haines’ unapologetic stadium ready anthems with her band Metric, and the woman with whom most of the iPod buying public is now on a last name basis, Leslie Feist.
To my knowledge, none of these fabulous ladies are touring with BSS at the moment, but they will almost certainly have the equally fabulous Lisa Lobsinger. No matter what the line-up, seeing Broken Social Scene live is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. On record, even the band’s most exuberant songs feel somewhat experimental. Live, even the most experimental songs are performed with and exuberance you feel with every fiber of your consciousness. Despite the ladies always stealing the show (I think it’s actually designed that way), Kevin Drew is a frontman of the highest order. His banter is sincere, hilarious, and often moving. When I saw them in 2006 he told us all to, “Go out and lose your virginity again.” As we left the show, my friend repeated that line to me and said, “I feel like I just did.” And so will you. (Watch them live on KCRW — so fun!)
BOYS: The Descendents: Born of the Hermosa Beach hardcore scene that gave the universe Black Flag, The Germs, Circle Jerks, The Descendents are O.G. punk royalty, but unlike those other snarling, sweating, cigarette burned beasts of bands, The Descendents were the funny, bored, self-deprecating nerds at the party. Although the sound and aesthetic was pure, elemental 3-chord Southern California punk, they had a Devo-ish Revenge of the Nerds thing going on whose desperate and hanging out in the garage spirit is a progenitor of the suburban ennui that bands like Weezer turned into pop classics. Although I’ve never seen them, these dudes are legendary and I imagine will be well worth the wait.
Twin Sister: While the Decsendents found perfect masculine sound to match the feelings of bored teenage nerds of either gender, Twin Sister might have just quietly snuck onto the scene last year with it’s exact feminine opposite. The cover of their Color Your Life EP shows a dollhouse found on the street by lead singer Andrea Estella who then made it up to resemble her childhood home.
And that’s exactly what her band sounds like — pure shy teenage girl fantasy explored to the fullest from the safety of home, or your mind, or whatever. It’s a haze of dreams, troubles, and in the case of the first single from their upcoming full length – “Bad Street” – maybe even sex, or at least a romanticized idea of it. Though this is another case of a single girl in a sea of men, there is no mistaking that this is a band composed entirely of female leaning ideas. Even when Estella occasionally passes singing duties off to one of here male cohorts, Eric Cardona they work with enough contraptions to ensure that the gender of the person singing is never entirely certain. When I saw them at the Echo, two girls walked in while he was mid vocal. “Oh I thought they had a girl singer…” one of them noted right away. The performance was thoroughly intriguing, and seemed designed to draw the listener into the party the were having in their own little world. Get to whatever stage they end up playing on early, and stand close.
– From KCRW DJs Mario Cotto and Marion Hodges