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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?

long summer line.JPG

(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?”
“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.”


(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.”


(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.

andrew wk and vampire.JPG

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.)



Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.