Like a Hollywood seance choreographed to a banshee’s shriek, The Advertisers were entertaining. The passsion is there, but inserted into a pastiche of the rock genre. If objectively meeting the cultural standards of rock is rock, The Advertisers rocked, albeit a little nervously, behind a sampled swagger designed to communicate genuine fire.
a place to be
I feel really serene & at home in these spaces, no matter what the political climate is outside, or what’s going on in my life or the world. It’s nice to see people dancing, and making out, and wearing whatever the f they want and not caring really what people think. Yeah, I judge people a lot, but not caring if I judge you is a surefire way to win my approval and respect.
Pink faux angoura sweaters are a popular look on the ladies this evening, and soft flannels over athletic hoodies on mellow-looking guys. Pretty soon a 60+ year-old man dressed like a goth pirate replete with spiked silver hair and Long John Silver hoops tries to instigate a friendship... I chat for a minute and then edge slowly back toward the bar. The Mercury Lounge is a stellar venue with outstanding acoustics and vibes. I think the only (live) music venue I’ve hung out at that had better acoustics might be the Peppermint Club. They’re pretty comparable in terms of size and intimacy.
Start daydreaming off again about how musical storytelling and aesthetics are a way to indoctrinate, unify, and concretize the values of our generation. Rock is generally somewhat aesthetically conservative I feel, though ideologically progressive. Pop is often saccharine, vapid, consumeristic and infantilizing to women. (For example, Ariana Grande). Fortunately we have Beyonce, who is a queen worthy of celebration, and Kendrick Lamar, a true artist.
It is NYFW and in light of that, the fashion awards of the night at the Mercury Lounge go to a thick girl, 30ish, with a slicked back bob turned up at the ends, draping over her hoop earrings, and to a flannel-clad mid-20s guy for his perfectly swooped hair and pleasantly-colored flannel.
The Muckers started out on a high note, with zwoingy, psychedelic instrumentals and reverby vocals that felt sincere and kind of gentle. They followed up with some funky bass lines, before it started to seem like these aesthetic choices were semi-random. I was thinking some of those funkadelic synth or keys or whatever it is that the Cars have on Let’s Go (Midnight Special) would have felt at home on some of the tracks.
the warbly jets
Julien is shimmering delicately, like a hummingbird among the amps and cables, and Dan has a fluffy almost-mullet reminiscent of John Hughes movies or young Bruce Springsteen. The vibe also reminds me of the Paul Cadmus paintings that inspired Lincoln Kirstein’s ballets.
In a moment, a disturbing Orwellian recording comes on, a jarring electronic chant. Samuel Shea takes the stage and instantly their charisma takes over the space. It’s almost the opposite of entertaining- it feels as though he's calling the audience into a cultural-moral interrogation room, without smiling. Technically Shea is singing, but it feels more like he’s embodying a different character, an omniscient narrator or surveiller. It’s a Jeff Koonsy role-reversal of the conception of the artist as “crowd-pleaser”, and of the audience’s desire to receive a pleasing cultural product for consumption.
It’s very effective, and there is a greater drama to it than the immediate drama in the room- it really does seem like the Warbly Jets have manifested a new degree of impassionedness and from-the-heart investment in their audience and in the state of society. It seems like a milestone in their progression as artists and cultural figures, and a progression in millennial cultural consciousness.
Cool Kill Machine is a disturbing track. It’s not ‘fun’. Tonight, it introduced memories of horriffic cultural trauma into the space. You could hear this protest echoing out into the night, a direct condemnation of alt-right gun “enthusiasts”- (“why not make it a scene? cool kill machine”).
As the track winds down, a kid who looks like William from Almost Famous is doing a dance move in between the sprinkler and the “running man”. That concludes, and he begins dabbing, then running in small circles.
Another track has what sounds like a George Clinton-y funk beat with electric organ over it, and in No Allegiance to the Game, the band bursts out of a heavy-rock beat structure into a shimmering, champagne-like guitar solo by Shea. Their charisma and musical proficiency remind me a little bit of Temples, but the Warbly Jets have so much more political passion & sense of criticality toward the “system at large”. They’re also really making full, maximal usage of the Mercury Lounge subwoofer system.
Left feeling inspired, conscious, and more alive- - hoping that the band finds a way to change the world with their passion and extraordinary capacity as performers and musicians. Regardless, it’s easy to see them having continued success on the rock circuit, and continuing to craft glittering & critical hits.
Catch them on US Tour, and check out their new EP Propaganda here: