04 February 2011

The Smartest Suckas in the Room

Listening to: The Radio Dept, "Heaven's On Fire" and "David." Their music is categorized as dream pop, twee pop, and shoegaze. "Musicians in these bands stood relatively still during live performances in a detached, introspective, non-confrontational state, hence the idea that they were gazing at their shoes."

After some back and forth and more last minute decision making, I ended up going to a concert last night. My rules for concerts had been pretty strict but I knew the band, the venue was right down the street, and my friend was willing to go. After buying some walk up tickets and skipping the opening act for some mussels and fries nearby, we went inside and I found out the answer to the question that had been haunting me hours before: "Is Radio Dept gonna be good live?"

The answer is a resounding "Yes!"

Sometimes with these indie pop bands their music can be too mellow and everyone just stands around pretending they are into it but really falling asleep. Radio Dept's music didn't strike me as terribly dancey while listening at home but on stage, just about every song was terrific, melodic, and upbeat. I could have danced if there was any room. Their set was awfully short and they left in melodramatic fashion -- exiting the stage one by one -- without an encore. In theory I applaud their unwillingness to bend to the tyranny of the traditional encore but in reality I wasn't emotionally ready for them to stop playing.

A short while afterward, my friend's friends were familiar with the band and they were all standing outside sharing cigarettes. The guy who knew them had literally travelled all over the world to watch Radio Dept in concert. He referenced a show in Barcelona they had done two years ago, and pointed out some songs they had never played live before. He was obsessively knowledgeable. It was great. I like people like that. For example, a week or so ago, I was eating with some chefs and I got a lot of very specific food knowledge -- a lot on oysters -- and I felt satiated both physically and mentally.

So please, if you know about something to an almost embarrassing degree, feel free to show off around me! I'm totally open to it. I'll even throw in a pat on the back and some unprovoked "Wow's."

There's a pretty big gap between obsession and fandom. I'm a fan of many things, but probably not actually obsessed with anything. Well that may not be true. But I wouldn't say I was a leading expert in anything. I tend to settle for upper-ish mediocrity though, so that's okay. I guess a better question would be what things would be most considered obsessions in your life? And if you don't have any, why not? (Wait I just possibly nerfed myself.)

Comedian Patton Oswald has a book out, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, in which he offers up the theory that "creative teens gravitate toward three subjects for their early stories: zombies, spaceships, or wastelands." There's also a recent Wired article by him about geek culture. Some of the article is nonsensical and silly but I liked what he had to say about how geekery has invaded the public at large.
"In Japan, the word otaku refers to people who have obsessive, minute interests -- especially stuff like anime or videogames. It comes from a term for 'someone else’s house' -- otaku live in their own, enclosed worlds. Or, at least, their lives follow patterns that are well outside the norm.
[Nowadays] everyone considers themselves otaku about something -- whether it’s the mythology of Lost or the minor intrigues of Top Chef. American Idol inspires -- if not in depth, at least in length and passion -- the same number of conversations as does The Wire. There are no more hidden thought-palaces -- they’re easily accessed websites, or Facebook pages with thousands of fans."
-Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die-