Bob the Lefsetz vs. Antony & the Johnsons. ALSO, some words about Coachella.
Well, I didn't put up the posts I was trying to get in this week on Jandek & Music Now. And unfortunately I have no interest in posting about Coachella and, now that I'm thinking of it, fairly minimal interest in actually attending Coachella. It strikes me as just another stop on the music industry's blog-friendly, media-worshipping clusterfuck of mediocrity.
Sure, I'd love to see whatever Aphex Twin is going to do -- if he even shows up. (I hear he sometimes sends doubles to perform in his stead.) And yes, groups like Simian Mobile Disco, Spank Rock, Justice, Black Lips and Kraftwerk will all thrive on that type of huge, drunk, whipped up crowd. Okay I guess this is a Coachella post and those are my recommendations...
But when it comes down to it, I have very little interest in that kind of expression and that kind of experience. The one and only time I went to Coachella I got a heatstroke and all I remember was that the Libertines canceled, the Rapture sounded okay, the Blue Man Group addressed the crowd as if we were all watching a mock-fascist rally, and the Beastie Boys did their whole old man rapper thing. (Not that awesome! Kind of sad! Neat orange jumpsuits!)
So, instead, let me offer some counter-programming, a video of the last artist one would never expect to see in a place like Indio, Antony & the Johnsons:
The person who introduced me to this clip was the most least likely of Antony supporters, our friend Bob Lefsetz, who introduced the singer with this total douchebag comment:
I know, you're asking yourself...is this guy gay? I mean what's up with his hair? Couldn't he go on a diet?
Really though, if you're anything like me that's not what you think about when you see this clip. Rather you're thinking about how much this performance just breaks your heart. It's not just the voice. It's the wet on his lips. It's the look on his face at the end of it. This almost total experience of ecstasy.
Antony's already been getting a lot of love this year for his performances on Hercules and Love Affair's s/t debut, a Pitchfork-acclaimed, as-of-yet-unavailable in America dance-type project to which he contributes his incredibly distinctive and evocative vocals. I can't wait for his band's new record which is coming later this year.
After the jump, Lefsetz's comments on Antony in their entirety. (Yes, Lefsez sort of redeems himself, as he usually does in my eyes...)
I know, you're asking yourself...is this guy gay? I mean what's up with his hair? Couldn't he go on a diet? Let go of your American preconceptions, just watch. This completely live performance.
This guy isn't doing it for the audience, he's doing it for himself. You believe he's been tortured his whole life, criticized for being himself, so he holed up in his bedroom and wrote this song and nervously, he's playing it for us live.
We didn't see the intro of this clip on the DVD. We had no idea of Antony's history. All we got was the music. And that was enough. Great music needs no context.
The business is tanking because everybody's playing it safe. They want surgically-enhanced stars, who don't write their own material. Who they can get commercials for, who they can get sponsored. What Fortune 500 company is going to go into business with Antony and the Johnsons? Public companies would run! Top Forty radio would laugh at the prospect of playing the music. The irrelevant rock formats are too caught up in oldies and formulaic hard stuff to take a chance. So greatness languishes. But greatness is out there, it exists.
Watch this clip in its entirety. It will render you speechless. If for no other reason than your brain will be unable to process it, will wonder what the fuck it is!
What this is is rock and roll. Music that tests the limits that touches your heart. Not pabulum. Not entertainment. Rather tuneage that demands your attention. That enriches your life.
You wonder why the U.K. music scene is healthier than that of the U.S? Because of shows like Jools Holland's. Where everybody plays live, where it's only about the music. Music still gets respect in the U.K. Here, it's just a tool of the man.