Tag: Chuck Klosterman
I’ve been a subscriber of Spin for quite a number of years. In it’s heyday, reading it always made me feel like I was a part of something – contrary to the widespread notoriety of Rolling Stone, Spin seemed to have an “all-in-this-together” vibe. I felt like paying attention to what it was talking about helped distinguish you as a real music-head as compared to someone who just buys reading material in an airport book store. And hell, how else would I have ever encountered one of my literary heroes, Chuck Klosterman? Seriously, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is one of my favorite books of all time. I guess I should have noted the first sign of their end when the mag was sold in 2006, and almost all of their staff writers were fired, including Klosterman. I mean, the guy has a weekly column in the New York Times Magazine now – thank God somebody realized what an idiotic move letting him go was. And sure, things seemed to get a little weirder then – Beyonce on the cover instead of some German electro group I had never heard of, but the mag still seemed to be holding on to a certain degree of street cred.
Then along comes these damn internets. It was a year ago when Spin first changed their format – no more published music reviews, it would only come out every other month, and for some reason it doubled the size of its paper. I mean, if you’re trying to save money, wouldn’t that be a stupid move? Well yes, it was. Now I’m not gonna say that the review section is the key part of any music mag, but…wait, actually I am gonna say that. Rolling Stone has some great articles, but I still read it for the main part of seeing if somebody random’s new album is actually worth checking out. Spin’s argument was that they were going to instead review every single album that was being released, and have them all online. But I don’t want to know about every single fucking album – I want to know what’s worth checking out – that’s why you friggin’ publish shit. I tried to stay on board with them. They did some cool articles on genre repetition over the decades, and gave the hilarious Patton Oswalt his own commentary section, but overall the new format fell completely flat. Geezus, when I’m taking a shit, I want random bits of ocular simulation – I don’t have time to read a 7 page article on Azelia Banks’ new wardrobe.
So here’s the real thing – Spin is all done now. They’re dead. Their print publication is over, and now they’re just another music website in a vast ocean of music websites. AND, their website really isn’t that good. They list things in horrible formats, where you have to reload page after page to read a Top-10 anything list, just so that each artist’s 2 sentence blurb can take up its’ own page surrounded by different google ads. What’s even more depressing though is that they just shadily slipped away. There was no announcement – no farewell issue. Just one day it stopped. And I thought my subscription was messed up until being in an airport two weeks ago and seeing September’s issue still on the shelves. You’d think there would have been some sort of notice to their loyal subscribers – at least a “Sorry folks, but we’re done, stop checking your mailboxes, and we totally owe you $12.” Honestly, can you sue a company for pre-ordered subscription fees when they suddenly just stop? Probably, but I don’t really care.
End of the line is that I, and music-nerds like me, were Spin’s fans. We were the folks that had a passion in their magazine, and actually wanted it to succeed. But they’ve gone ahead and treated us like a demographic that doesn’t even matter anymore. Now I’m just another name on an email list for them to send their weekly notice to, in hopes that I’ll click on some random link and then click on one of their advertiser’s links. Way to completely blow it fellas, and totally lose touch which anything and anyone that made you who you are in the first place. I’d say I was angry about the death of print, but these guys showed no desire to adapt and/or grow. They just wanted to die. And that they have. To point, here’s the email they sent me today: “My Bloody Valentine and Fall Out Boy Return.” Honeslty? You guys are gonna put those two bands in the same sentence? Good riddance.
Last night was the premiere/farewell showing of the documentary following LCD Soundsystem‘s final show last April at Madison Square Garden. I attended the 3-set, 4-hour marathon performance last year and still get goose-bumps recalling the dance party, the bittersweet pleasure permeating the arena, and the magical sense of knowing I was taking part in a piece of modern musical history. What a bummer that this movie didn’t resurrect those sensations for me – yep, on a scale of 1-10, ranking it with other great concert films, I give it a 5.8.
First off, the concert footage is amazing. The elevated camera angles, the close-ups, and the shared glimpses of momentary wonder from band members are amazing. As is the sound mix. But the emotion is so blatant pouring off of everyone on the stage that the rest of the movie’s non-stage shots fail to live up to its level of compassion. Surely once the full concert is released on DVD along with this doc, the actual concert film will receive exponentially more viewings than its art-house sibling.
It seems like all the right footage is there – following James Murphy around the day before and after the show, and having crucial interview questions from the amazing Chuck Klosterman interspersed defines the whole movie. The thing is that Murphy doesn’t really have the magical, self-defining answers himself to put the whole thing into the necessary perspective we’re all looking for. The dichotomous existence between his rock-star self and the normal dude he strives to be is questioned but never really understood. And what sucks is that it seems if presented from the right perspective all those answers and the clear storyline are there. But instead, the movie tries to crawl into James Murphy’s brain, which at the time of filming was incredibly confused and lost. Thus the film itself tends to get jumbled in obscure transitions from the stage to Murphy’s apartment. The result is that you begin to feel just as uncertain about what’s actually happening as Murphy is, and while it’s a great act of imposing empathy on the viewer, I think it would have been a lot more interesting to really try to define the story from an outsider’s perspective. Essentially, they should have just let Klosterman produce the film.
The most compelling part of the film comes when Klosterman asks Murphy what he believes his greatest failure to be, as Klosterman claims it is an act’s greatest failure that truly defines them. Murphy is quick to reply that potentially quitting will be his biggest failure, while Chuck quickly jumps back at him saying, “No, I think your ability to stop being self-conscious of yourself is your biggest failure.” And he’s exactly right…music, and rock music, and dance music is all about existing in the moment. Sure, some fabulous things have happened from some incredibly intelligent rock stars making some brash decisions about their existence, but real passionate music comes from a place where you don’t give a fuck how history and the media sees you. It’s almost like James Murphy was so concerned about doing things the ‘right’ and the ‘righteous’ way that the very act of concern stopped being the ‘right’ and ‘righteous’ thing to do. I think the movie could have benefited hugely by including a couple brief fan interviews and quotes. For a band that was always about the intertwined unity and experience of itself and its fans, the movie is far too strictly presented from the top down. So it gives you a great sense of the sorrow and confusion ripping through Murphy, but it give little sense of the all-out wonder which the concert itself was. Perhaps the music so speaks for itself that we’ll have to wait for the full concert release for that wonder to be seen. Literally at times you want to scream “Shut Up and Play the Hits” at the screen, but unfortunately that’s not what the film is about. I suppose it is a great portrait of one man’s inability to live in the present, and his obsession with how the future will look back at him. However, a good concert film it is not. Still, it should be required viewing for anyone and everyone even slightly involved with the music business today, but wait until the full concert is released before you schedule any martini fueled dance-party viewing sessions.
Here’s the link to my full review of the concert from last year:
Here’s the preview:
…not the hype about JC – believe whatever you want about the man, or not. Anyway, after finally seeing the brilliant Banksy movie this weekend, Exit Through the Gift Shop, I became aware of the synchronous connection the film had with the latest story about the Jersey band Delicate Steve. OK, uber-quick catch up:
Exit Through the Gift Shop – An amazing documentary about the legends of modern street art, and how construed hype over drivel crap can falsely convince a willing public that redundant tripe should be priceless.
Delicate Steve – A really basic guy/band from Northern Jersey who plays quasi-electronic tunes that are all essentially composed with the salsa beat on your grandmother’s organ cranked up to full speed. They opened up for a band I’m part of in the Magic Hat Brewery parking lot last summer. Good fellas, not neccessarily the most epic music – most moms would find it very annoying and obnoxious – but fun for a little while.
Soooo, somebody at their label had the genius idea to create the most obscure, over-the-top, all-out super-fibbing for the band’s bio. Through a link of a link, legendary sub-culture music-critic and writer Chuck Klosterman was convinced to write the bio on the account that he didn’t need to listen to the band or know anything about their music. He thusly wrote the most absurd bio with comparisons ranging from My Bloody Valentine to Led Zeppelin, and the under-lying notion that Steve was about to rip the fabric of destiny and time open with their historically important music. In a showing then of how press stories are relayed and used without any fact-checking, many venues and press printed the bio verbatim, thus leading many to a completely incorrect view of what the band actually is. And so the question is, should they feel bad for duping listeners into checking out their music on completely false terms? Of which, Klosterman intelligently replies: “I’ll be honest — I don’t feel bad. Because to me, I’ve probably helped that person to learn that you should not make consumer decisions based on some random media message that someone just fabricated for no reason.”
It’s a pretty fascinating story, and if you got the time NPR has a great detailing of how they themselves fell for the bio. They also have the full bio listed too: http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2011/04/21/135568766/everything-you-know-about-this-band-is-wrong?ps=mh_frhdl2
I think the whole thing is fucking hilarious and a good example of the distance between press and actual fans of music – there are music critics out there who are not only lazy, but actually just don’t care about music. Not like myself, and the over-saturation and gorging of modern sound that I digest in such detail only to bring the cumulative truth to you, the reader, who actually makes it to the end of my blog postings. Here’s some killer Steve: