I have been reading quite a bit of Pitchfork Reviews Reviews lately, so I apologize in advance if this sounds sort of like that. I don’t want to jack his style, which is arguably embarrassing for a journalism major, but I do like how honest he is.
Last night, I went to see Avi Buffalo at Exit/In. Before they went on, I went up to the merch stand to see what was on offer, and I started talking to George, their merch guy, and a girl whose name I can’t remember. Avi Buffalo are doing a special tour EP where all of the cases are plain cardboard so that people can draw on them, and the girl was killing time by doodling on some of those covers. George offered me one, and because I’m not very good at drawing, I just indecorously scrawled “CALIFORNIA” with “screw Katy Perry” in smaller letters. George told me he actually likes Katy Perry, and I wanted to talk about it, but it didn’t feel right at that moment.
One of them asked me what I did, and I said that I was a journalism student, that I decided to switch after a year of being a music business major. They wanted to know why, and I said it was because I was more interested in the cultural aspects of music and the entertainment industry. The girl asked me to explain. I launched into this ramble about how Vampire Weekend are one of my favorite bands because, in addition to making good songs and really caring about what they do, they also bring up all of these questions about class that you normally see more in the British music scene, like in the mid-90s with Blur and Oasis. She asked me if Vampire Weekend were British, and I said, “No, they’re American.” She said, “We don’t like to talk about class here,” and I agreed. George said something about how Avi Buffalo had opened for Vampire Weekend one time, and I sort of haphazardly plowed on and started talking about how Das Racist are really interesting because they metabolize a combination of highbrow and lowbrow cultural references into much more blatant statements about class and race in America. Then Avi Buffalo started to play and the girl and I left to go watch them.
The band were pretty good, but I could definitely tell that it was the first night of the tour. Their keyboardist just left, so Avi had to juggle playing guitar and putting on the loops of the parts that they didn’t have a fourth person to play. They still sounded tight as a three-piece, and I wish them the best of luck on this tour. While they played, I started thinking about how young they are, fresh out of high school, and how young Arctic Monkeys were when they first signed to Domino and broke the UK record for fastest-selling debut album. I was younger than Arctic Monkeys were then, and I’m older than Avi Buffalo are now, and I had to stop myself from having a mini-crisis over the impermanent nature of youth.
After the show, I went back to the merch table to buy one of the customized tour EPs and I attempted to engage George in a conversation about why he likes Katy Perry. He said it was because she’s just fun, but she certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on fun, and there are plenty of fun artists who don’t make bothersome statements that undermine the legitimate discrimination that LGBT people face on a daily basis. People say that Lady Gaga exploits the gay audience for her own personal gain, but Katy Perry has done that on a much grander scale with her songs. Regardless of her intentions, Gaga ultimately maintains a consistently positive message. And, again, I think I’m a journalism major because we need to talk about why Katy Perry and Lady Gaga matter, even though sometimes it seems like they don’t matter.