Every time I inasmuch as mention the word “hipster” on the blog these days, some Mensa Mind has to scrawl some stupid, scurrilous statement about how “maaan, all you do is stereotype hipsters and make egregious generalizations and you, Jeff Weiss, are the worst writer in the history of time. Plus, you're behind the closing of Indy
Because yesterday, I saw him. The hipster Java man. We were standing next to each other at the Dirty Projectors show and it was beautiful. One of those slow motion, “Dreamweaver” moments where time stops and our eyes locked, me and proto-hipster, swooning, smoking, staring at each other back to the dawn of time, or at least when it first became trendy in the city Ur to grow a mustache. I tried to take photos of him but it was impossible, my camera wouldn't register the image. The neon was too bright. The sunglasses too searing. The skin too translucent.
To replay: the hat a retina-ravaging shade of electric tangerine, covered in black and red Rorschach splotches. A teal tanktop plastered on his pasty frame, undersized cloth blue shorts, the kind they made you wear to gym in the 6th grade, the ones that no matter how hard you tried to sag were still always too short. The shoes were impressive, boots nearly up to the knee, a cross between rainboats and Uggs (Ruggs?). The mandatory mustache. The 16-year old beard. Vampire Weekend sunglasses of a sharp cherry apple color. Part of me wanted to take him home with me. The anthropological possibilities seemed endless. What are his likes? What are his desires? What is the ideal amount of Sparks? And then just like that he left, shuffling away, American Spirit stuck between his lips, no doubt off to make some girl in stripes and leggings a very happy woman.
As Much As Things Change, Some Things Will Always Stay the Same
Think of the Fork Festival as ground-zero for the hipsters of America. While it's easy to interpret that as a perjorative, it really isn't. Sure, the sartorial sense of its attendees might be ripe for mild satire, but the festival itself was not, perhaps the most punctual, sober and well-organized of any that I've attended. Prices were reasonable, accommodations were generous and by the end, the place earned my respect. Pitchfork might be guilty of cultivating an indier-than-thou aesthetic that ultimately reflects itself in the festival's status as America's preeminent hirsute haven, but the festival ran smoothly, they booked a reasonably diverse slate of acts and even if every performance didn't amaze me, at the very least they were almost unanimously interesting.
Indeed, few acts were as compelling as Sunday's one-two punch of The Dirty Projectors and King Khan & the Shrines. On record, The Dirty Projectors have hinted at the brilliance they possess live, with their latest Rise Above, shot through with flashes at greatness and a surfeit of ideas that the band didn't always seem to know how to execute. I caught them about a year ago when they played at the Echoplex but since then, they've developed into one of the most innovative and impressive young bands in music today.
Dave Longstreth voice is a jarring underwater wail, that wobbles and flutters like a knuckleball, dipping, diving, impossible to get a bead on. His guitar technique is otherworldly, not the stereotypical guitar hero rawk that you think of when you think “great guitarist,” but more an African-inspired float that weaves in time with that levitating voice. I'd like to get into it more but there's no time right now, as I only have about twenty minutes left to write before my flight and there's still a half dozen hours of music I already don't have time to describe.
As for King Khan, they might've turned in my favorite set of the festival. Easily the best performer of the weekend, Khan is a hammy blend of James Brown-blessed showmanship, the sort of eccentric brilliance that can only come from a true lunatic. Taking the stage in a gold Josephine Baker head-wrap, a black cape, too-tight stretch shorts and occasionally a Mexican Luchador mask, Khan is probably the most charismatic performer in “indie” right now. Backed by the Shrines, his nine-piece soul band, the show is one part Godfather of Soul one part Andy Kauffman, one part Blues Brothers, one part West Anderson movie come to life.
Khan's entire intent is to get people moving and somehow, he managed to get the formerly sedentary swarm dancing. Several people even crowd-surfed, which might seem like normal festival-behavior but not here at Hip-stock. Hell, I even saw someone's grandmother shaking it as though it were a daguerreotype picture. It was pure bedlam. I can't really recommend a group more. There really is nothing out there like King Khan & The Shrines. By the end of the set, I felt myself wanting to read King Khan's biography and thinking that like that old Biggie line, this group crushes all so-called willies, thugs and rapper-dons. Or at least Mission of Burma.
Fuck. I'm out of time. There is a flight to catch. This is going to have to be brief. Spoon and Health are going to get screwed here and rest assured, both were very good. There's only a few seconds left to even mention, the “so obviously it's a highlight, it almost can't be a highlight set” that Ghostface and Raekwon turned in.
I've seen solo Starks maybe a half dozen times over the years and this was my favorite. As always, Ghost played a mix between surprisingly deep cuts you wouldn't expect them to play (“Fish”. “Rainy Dayz” “Whip You With a Strap,) and the standard-bearers (“Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” “Cream,” “Triumph”) but having Raekwon there proved the difference. They hewed strongly to the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx material, the sound was great and both men seemed determined to turn in an indelible performance despite having just touched down in the Chi after a nine-hour flight from Europe. Unfortunately, they didn't play “One” or really anything off Supreme Clientele, but hey, as Mick Jagger so aptly opined, “you can't always get what you want.” Besides, all I really want right now is a smooth flight home and for Southwest to not to lose my luggage again. Tallyho.