DID YOU READ

LIVE: Vampire Weekend, Kid Sister, Born Ruffians

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On Saturday afternoon, my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to catch the free Vampire Weekend concert at Central Park’s Summerstage (New York City). Since there were two supporting acts and the weather was a little muggy, we thought arriving an hour beforehand would do the trick–boy were we wrong. When we approached the band shell it took us a good half-mile walk to reach the back of the line. Since I was calculating the math in my head with the number of people the Summerstage holds, I deducted that–just like at SXSW earlier this year–I was going to get stuck outside in line missing yet another Vampire Weekend performance.

Maybe I wasn’t meant to see them live?

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(right: The half-mile line to get into Vampire Weekend’s free show.)

After waiting in the back of the line for fifteen minutes and not moving an inch, I told my wife that we were going to go through the press entrance. The following conversation ensued:

“Are you on the list?”
“No.”
“What are you going to tell them?”
“That I need to get into the show so I can blog about it on Monday.”
“Do you have your IFC I.D.?”
“No, I don’t even own an IFC I.D.”
“Well, what are you going to do?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“You better not lie.”

Running a ‘zine for many years has helped give me the tools of sneaking into concerts for free. Though it’s been a while since I’ve used these skills, how hard could it be to get into a free concert for free? My wife did put some limitations on me, “no lying” and I had to “tell to the truth” no matter what.

I decided to resort to the oldest concert trick in the book: If you look like you belong, you belong. I put my cell phone to my ear, pretended like I was having a power conversation with someone important, and walked right through the front gate. When someone questioned my wife, I gave the nonchalant, “She’s with me.” That easy, we were in.

Hosting the afternoon’s festivities was none other than Mr. Party Hard himself, Andrew W.K. (who was supposedly handpicked by Vampire Weekend to emcee the free concert). He brought out the first band, Born Ruffians (Toronto), and as soon as they began their first song, the sun disappeared and the rain began to fall. My wife looked over at me and said, “God’s punishing you.”

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(Born Ruffians left to right: Mitch DeRosier, Luke LaLonde, Steve Hamelin)

Born Ruffians are definitely in the same musical family as Vampire Weekend–lots of jangly guitar played high on the fret board. Drummer, Steve Hamelin, provided some extra oomph with his barky-backing-vocals, and bassist, Mitch DeRosier kept the show fun by bouncing along to each tune. Guitarist’s, Luke LaLonde’s, Dylan-like vocal delivery sounded better when we sang actual lyrics–opposed to when he would break off into his warbley-indie-scat. After just a few tunes, DeRosier broke the E String on his bass. LaLonde called out to the side of the stage to see if anyone had a spare, but A.) no one heard him, or B.) they pretended not to. Born Ruffians played two more songs, ending with “I Need a Life” (what I would consider to be their current hit), and called it an afternoon. After the set I bumped into DeRosier and asked, “How did you play with a broken bass string.” He shrugged his shoulders and replied, “I just kind of made things up.”

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(right: This friendly stranger helped shield people from the rain with her dollar store picnic table cover. Best $1.00 spent all day long).

Because Born Ruffians’ set was so short it appeared that the Summersatge folks were running a tight and efficient ship. As they left the stage, the heaven’s opened up some more. Maybe God was punishing me? The rain came down so hard it felt like someone was standing over me with an industrial strength garden hose (a fire hose would be stretching the truth a bit). Thunder and lightning came next, and I felt like I was knee-deep in a story straight from the Old Testament.

Curiously, Andrew W.K., nor the next scheduled performer, Kid Sister, ever appeared on stage. No one from Central Park said a word. Was the concert cancelled? Should we run for the hills? What the hell’s going on here? After forty minutes of getting dumped on, someone finally came out and said, “The storm should clear in twenty minutes, hold tight.” Throughout the hour of rain, many people had left the concert. Maybe feeling a bit guilty I turned to my wife and said, “See, we would have gotten in anyway.”

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(left: “Cut it out.” My sentiments exactly.)

Next up was Kid Sister (or so I thought). Her DJ, 8-Track (who also shares turntable duties with Kanye West), said she was running 10 minutes late, but told everyone he’d play some party tracks in the meantime.

Wait, what did he say? Kid Sister’s running 10 minutes late? We just got poured on for over an hour and she’s still not here?

Kid Sister, welcome to my shit-list#@!

When Kid Sister finally did take the stage, the joy that I had an hour previously was filled with anger and disgust. Her fuzzy yellow-and-purple back-up dancers–who would have been cute 60 minutes prior–made me even more furious, especially since they were as dry as brand-new plush toys sealed in a bubble-pack. What made matters worse was Kid Sister’s monotonous, lateral stage movement, was causing her to run out of breath during certain songs. Then DJ 8-track had the nerve to say, “C’mon people, make some noise for Kid Sister!” Yo, how ’bout making some noise for all the people that just got poured on for an hour?! On this particular afternoon, Kid Sister couldn’t leave the stage soon enough. Peace out.

Vampire Weekend took the stage next, ending one of my soggiest concert experiences ever. Amazingly, despite water beads covering most of their instruments, the Columbia-foursome sounded crisp and tight. I appreciated the fact that the group’s two Chrises, drummer Chirs Tomson and bassist Chris Baio, were wearing shorts (usually a no-no in indie rock). Unlike Kid Sister, lead singer Ezra Koenig, sounded sincere when thanking the audience for staying through the rain.

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Later in the set, Koenig, who sounds incredibly poised for such a young frontman, mentioned how cool it was to be playing Summerstage, adding that most of Vampire Weekend’s songs were written not too far from Central Park. The live versions of “Oxford Comma,” and “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)” sounded even better with crowd sing-a-longs, and “A-Punk” sounded perfectly right for the wet occasion with shirtless guys and drenched females singing, “Look outside the raincoats gone, say oh, oh!”

(above: Wait a second, is that Andrew W.K. playing with Vampire Weekend?)

At times I felt bad for keyboardist Rostam Batmanclij. Earlier in the set he mentioned how he bought one of his keyboards across the river in Jersey at a yard sale years ago. Because of the rain, he frantically had to wipe down his instrument in between each song. I kept thinking to myself, “That would really suck if his little yard sale gem got ruined today.” Fortunately, I don’t think it did (whew).

Despite the storm, Vampire Weekend and the remaining rain-delay-holdouts seemed to be having a joyous time (myself included). The harder it rained, the louder the crowd got. In a day filled random weather patterns, it almost seemed fitting that the concert ended with Andrew W.K. teaming up with Vampire Weekend to play a cover of Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” followed by “Walcott.”

Vampire Weekend’s nautically-themed songs took on a whole new meaning on Saturday afternoon, and I learned an important lesson: If you don’t listen to your wife, God will punish you just like he did to the people who didn’t listen to Noah.

(below: My sneakers still haven’t dried.)

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.