Random observations on dancing at Vegoose and elsewhere:
photographs by Timothy Norris
Shins fans don't dance. I know this because it was at the beginning of this show that I first discovered that my wristband was in fact MAGIC and offered me backstage access. And free food. And free cocktails. And free hookers. So I walked confidently past security and within thirty seconds I was standing backstage as the Shins, cute as buttons and dressed as chess pieces, performed one of their gentle little ditties. I was ten feet away. My verdict: I would think it would be a little depressing to be the Shins and watch their crowd not dance. Seldom, in fact, move a muscle. Out in front of them, a sea of stationary heads. A few bobble heads, sure. But the asses, they don't wiggle. They must have read Sasha Frere-Jones' recent New Yorker diatribe.
Lame camera phone shot by Roberts backstage at the Stooges.
The best onstage dancers, better than M.I.A.'s, were the S-1Ws, who, for the past two decades, have been Public Enemy's security team/onstage dance troupe. Dressed in fatigues and sporting thousand-yard-stares and deep, resigned frowns, the two troops stood on opposite sides of the stage and did the Minimal Mambo, which is what David Foster Wallace calls his variation of it in Infinite Jest. Basically, stand like a statue and do not move but for the vaguest little pinky flick to the rhythm. The S-1Ws do a variation involving basically one arm movement maybe every thirty seconds. It's a deliberate, militaristic maneuver, and packs a punch.
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Iggy salutes the crowd while our hero, Mike Watt, pushes Fun House forward.
I've been seeing a lot of fist pumping at many different kinds of shows. Like weird, nearly fascistic fist pumping. At Mastodon, at the Queens of the Stone Age, a lot of it at Justice a few weeks back at the Fonda in L.A. At Daft Punk people were flat-out dancing – and jumping and freaking and rolling and fucking and Losing Their Proverbial Shit -- but the fists were all in the air, hitting lockstep with the kick drum. At a performance by the reigning worst band in the world, Infected Mushroom, lead singer Erez Eisen pumped his fist the whole time. When it's just a few people, it's not as evident. But when you're standing side stage as the Stooges kick out “Dirt”and all these dudes all amped up and pumping their fists, it really starts to look like a Youth March of some sort. I guess it's just a show of unity, but it's kind of scary, especially these ambivalent days. When you see the youth and they're saluting so forcefully, you worry about who's taking them where. Hopefully it's Daft Punk and not Infected Mushroom.