Tuesday, April 11, 2006

This Just In From Texas

From the pages of Vanity Fair

Specifically, it's off to Vice magazine's parties. Vice started out as an ill-mannered skateboard-culture rag in 1994 and has since expanded into an ill-mannered juggernaut, with its own record label, publishing imprint, and Manhattan boutique. It has booked bands for two full days at three spaces, all on the same block. At one venue, AfriRampo, a pair of Japanese women in face paint and exotic red dresses, is making a holy racket on drums and guitar.

Minutes later, we happen upon the Young Knives at the Longbranch. When they're through, we agree to head over to the Victory Grill—except that we've got these free bourbon drinks to finish. Then it dawns on us that something exciting is about to happen. The bar is filling up, a line is forming outside. We decide to stay. The rule of thumb for trend spotters, as for politicians: look for the longest line and get in front of it.

Our reward is Islands, a freak-folk collective from Montreal whose singer is rocking that most uncompromising of hairdos: the Prince Valiant. There's also a black bass player wearing a white do-rag, a Caucasian dude on bass clarinet, two nerdy-looking Asian guys on violin, and someone somewhere playing a steel drum. "This song is called 'I Fucking Feel Evil,'" the singer announces as green smoke starts oozing from the headstock of his guitar. No wonder the scene-sters are lined up outside.

Islands, I will later learn, rose from the ashes of the Unicorns, a once promising group that may well have collapsed under the weight of its own precociousness. These days, all the bands from Canada appear to be morphing into collectives. As if to prove the point, a pair of M.C.'s—Subtitle and Busdriver—squeeze onto the "stage."

Vice keeps its bands on a tight schedule, but Islands decides to play one last song even though they don't have time. "I don't care," proclaims Prince Valiant, who goes by Nick Diamonds but whose real name is Nicholas Thorburn. "What are they gonna do? We've fucked up everything else we've ever done." Highly regimented and utterly wonderful anarchy erupts. Then the music ends, and the rock lemmings depart, off to some other in-crowd gem we've never heard of.

For more tales of VICE Killing Texas see the Vanity Fair Roundtable.


Czarina de Oficina said...

Is this post about VICE, the Longbranch Inn or Islands? You are so predictable!

Anonymous said...

Becky Sharp charlataned, seduced and schemed her way into Vanity Fair. I bet all Jim Dandy had to do was bat his guylashes.


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