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INDIE EAR MADNESS ’09: National Championship

INDIE EAR MADNESS ’09:  National Championship (photo)

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Three weeks ago, Indie Ear Madness ’09 began with 64 of the best indie-minded/respected bands in the land. After some fierce and furious competition, TV On The Radio and The Bouncing Souls were the only two acts left standing. Last night they went head to head, competing not only for the 2009 National Championship, but for indie music bragging rights, which (you’d think) would at least guarantee them a free shot of espresso in any non-chain coffee shop in America.

The irony of Indie Ear Madness is that the finals are always performed in the same venue as the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball championship; usually some type of large stadium, a setting some might find more ideal for an 80’s hair-band than a well-respected indie act. However, taking into consideration that indie-minded artists usually spend their summers playing large outdoor festivals around the world, performing at Detroit’s Ford Field, in front of 70,000 fans–which at times could seem overwhelming–is nothing either of the championship bands couldn’t handle. It wasn’t a question of if the bands could pull off a set, but how they would do it.

(above: The Bouncing Souls’ Greg Attonito attempts to lead his band to victory against TV On The Radio.)

Going into last night’s National Championship, TV On The Radio were clearly the favorites. Not only were they a #3-seed to The Bouncing Souls’ #12-seed, but they are still riding the wave of critical acclaim from their latest album, Dear Science, which Rolling Stone, SPIN, The Onion AV Club, and the readers of Pitchfork Media all named the best album of 2008. Within the last few months, TV On The Radio has also performed live on The Late Show, The Tonight Show, Colbert Report, Later with Jools Holland, and SNL (you don’t think they can handle a crowd of 70,000?). On top of all of that, they eliminated Kanye West from this year’s tournament–no easy feat considering Kanye usually gets what he wants.

Though they’ve been called a Cinderella team throughout this year’s Indie Ear Madness tournament, The Bouncing Souls could have very well been considered favorites going into last night’s match-up. They shocked the world by dispatching both Bruce Springsteen and U2 from the tourney. The Bouncing Souls are also celebrating their 20th year as a band, and they’ve only really suffered one line-up change over the years (replacing drummers at the turn of the decade); in other words, they’re a really tight squad.

The Jersey punk act not only carry a surplus of indie cred, but could be called prophets of modern day music. Fifteen years ago, when their punk rock peers were penning major label record deals and sucking the teat of MTV, The Bouncing Souls remained content on making a name for themselves on their own terms. To date, The Souls have never inked a deal with a major label, and can still sell out a nationwide tour at will. In 2009, their D.I.Y.-business model seems like the only way to survive in a failing music industry. Their peers, who went for the gold in the ’90s, probably wished they were The Bouncing Souls right about now.

As always, TV On The Radio performed an impassioned set, giving their jazzy-soulful-electro-rock songs a rougher edge than their album versions. “Staring At The Sun” and “Wolf Like Me” brought the crowd to their feet, and even a dialed-down tune like “Hours” took the crowd through an incredible journey. Oddly, considering all of its critical praise, the tracks from Dear Science weren’t able to ignite the crowd in the same way. Sure, “Golden Age” and “Dancing Choose” are catchy, but they seem to be missing that explosive factor. Some of the other tunes from Dear Science (dare I say?) even came off a little boring live.

The Bouncing Souls, with 20 years of set-list material to choose from, brought out all of their club-tested, stadium-ready hits. Re-working two soccer chants over the years (“Here We Go” and “Olé“) also proved to be mighty valuable when attempting to work a room of 70,000 people. The abundance of hey’s, ho’s, and oi’s in The Souls’ anthemic tunes also helped woo some TV On The Radio fans. There was even a section of Williamsburg hipsters–a group usually seen crossing their arms in the back of clubs–uncharacteristically pumping their fists in the air (believe it or not, some were even smiling).

In the end, The Bouncing Souls’ arsenal of hits were just too much for TV On The Radio to overcome. “True Believers,” “Manthem,” “The Gold Song,” and “Lamar Vannoy” sent Ford Field into a frenzy, which even motivated TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe to come out on stage and deliver his favorite movie quote during The Bouncing Souls’ performance of “These Are The Quotes From Our Favorite 80’s Movies.”

The Bouncing Souls’ sealed the deal, winning their first ever Indie Ear National Title (they are born to lose no more). Now they just have to figure out where they’re going to hang their National Championship banner, since it’s twice as big as their rehearsal space.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…