In defense of sad songs

Yesterday I went to a concert: Les Savy Fav, Thunderbirds Are Now, The Hold Steady. The Hold Steady was so good, in such cheesy fashion, that I have nothing to say about them. Thunderbirds Are Now basically play at the edge of a gigantic wave of noise. This is not particularly new or interesting. What is interesting is that towards the end of their show, they distributed a large number of medium-sized white towels to members of the audience. Granted, these were the members of the audience who like to grab things and who were closer to the undulating bassist than I was. Still, they gave us a series of non-fascistic instructions about spinning the towels over our heads, like helicopter blades, while they made the usual punk noise with the guitars and the etc. Honestly, given my very limited experience with concerts, I had never seen anything like the whirling white wonderland that followed. It completely broke the imaginary television screen that cuts off even the closest performer. Plus, the band throughout the whole set was moving and dancing around and looking at each other, in the kind of God forsaken electrical synergy that makes you feel (in a forgivable Jim Morrison sense) as though the whole outfit is riding some mystical snake into a Babylonian sunset. It is what I will always believe the Stooges created, although my only proof is that scene in Velvet Goldmine where Euan shakes glitter all over himself. Also, as I was walking to the concert, to go back in time approximately thirty-five minutes, but not so far back that it’s the previous weekend and I’m socked on bourbon, a bunch of people in hoodies yelled at me to scare me. It worked. I jumped like a cat that brushes against an electrified cattle prod. The strange, wonderful thing was that I found it completely exhilarating. They laughed at me like crazy. You could hear them for a block. I was laughing, too, though, after the adrenalin cooled off. There I was, all curled up in my brown lined jacket like a man resigned to die of cold, walked joylessly towards a concert which held in store white whirligigs I couldn’t then begin to imagine, when all of a sudden I was shocked out of it. Then Les Savy Fav came on stage, much later, when I’d had a Corona with a delicious slice of lime, and they were so bad that it made me depressed and numb around the toes. He was doing this campy parody of male sexuality, mixed with stripper moves and some stuff he must’ve learned in Alternative Gym Class — he being the lead singer, who was this gigantic D&D type backed up with weird forty year old virgins — plus crowd surfing. It’s likely he didn’t have the approval of security, because when the crowd tried to surf itself, they kept jumping in and forming Wizard of Oz barricades arm-in-arm. They all wore leather jackets and looked like Clive Owen or the bad guy from Daredevil. Meanwhile this rather tuneless product of Elvish Growth Hormone is trying out a sort of Jesus maneuver with having people touch him and possibly be healed of whatever kind of leprosy you get if you’re a hipster — except the songs have no melody — and furthermore it’s clear that he never had a major handle of what male sexuality is if it’s not a pretend drag show where you stuff bananas down your pants and later fellate them (no joke). And therefore what is to satire? I projected a gigantic “Jacqueline” into the sky but Franz Ferdinand never saved us.

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