New Museum NYC
Jun 12 2009

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with thanks to New Museum

"I Love MEN!"

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when, in 2006, Le Tigre announced they were going on hiatus. As Kathleen retreated to domestic life and teaching, Johanna to running a hair salon, it was left to JD Samson to carry the flag. Which she did, first going out on the road with Peaches, and then via numerous DJ appearances. JD eventually recruited Johanna to join her as a DJ, and they went on more gigs and some remix work under the name MEN. Eventually MEN, assisted by Emily Roysdon, developed their own material. JD also had another side project - a band called Hirsute, with Ginger Brooks Takahashi and Michael O'Neill. So with Johanna busy having a baby it made sense to combine the two and tour with the band playing the MEN songs. After cutting a trail back and forth across Europe in early 2009 the long-awaited USA tour kicked off with this NYC show - and it was a corker! Held in the New Museum's shiny white theater, it was part of that establishment's new triennial exhibit 'The Generational' dedicated to young artists - this first edition being called 'Younger Than Jesus'. 50 artists have been selected from a shortlist of 500 to represent today's youth - included in their ranks not only MEN's own Emily Roysdon, but also Brendan Fowler aka BARR. The New Museum has also a program of somewhat wilder than usual events - 'Get Weird' - running the third Thursday of each month. When the two concepts collided we got this show - MEN & BARR. Sold right out, naturally.

Brendan, as is his habit, spent almost twice as much time talking as actually doing his songs, themselves meta to the extreme. He played with the crowd's sensibilities by measuring the mirthfulness of such conflicting concepts as Wolf Eyes and personal studios. I've included his first - '2nd Single' - and last - 'All For Updated' - songs. There was a large white screen set up in front of MEN's equipment, and a couple of tall ladders at the sides. Paint trays appeared and paint was poured in to them. There was then a lengthy delay as New Museum people became concerned about the possibilties of major sloppage over their pristine facility. Much plastic sheeting was procured and wrapped round everything in proximity. The show commenced with a prolog in which seeminly random members of the crowd read, call and response style, from a script that, we would discover, contained many of the themes of the songs to come. Then, as a heavy beat throbbed, the painters, using brushes on long poles, painted a house on the screen, including a big whiskered cat lounging on a balcony. With a final flourish, they used knives, again on poles, to cut out the door and windows, through which we could see the band as they kicked into the first number.. The Le Tigre fans were not disappointed as MEN's music is not only rousingly upbeat electro-rock, but, if anything, more feminist, more gender-liberating, than could be imagined. They could only wow as JD's girlfriend - the visibly pregnant Sia - joined in on the anthemic 'Credit Card Babies' with its twin motifs - Fuck Your Best - Fuck Your Friends - urging procreation! Personally I loved the subtle reggae rhythm of 'Lifes Half Price' featuring MC Emily Roysdon. I was also impressed all the way thru by the cool proficiency of the two guitarists - Ginger's funky arpeggios contrasting with Michael's power chords - which can be seen/heard particularly on the third song I've picked - 'Be Like This'.

ipod | stills | youtube

ipod | stills | youtube

ipod | stills | youtube

ipod | stills | youtube

ipod | stills | youtube

The The Generational:Younger Than Jesus exhibit continues til July 5 2009. BARR's most recent CD' Summary' can be got from Kill Rock Stars. No record as yet from MEN, but you can listen to songs on their myspace (link below).

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date posted: 6/16/09

Myspace BARR

Myspace MEN

Carolyn Wachnicki's pix from this show.
Paper Mag review of this show. punkcast is hosted at dreamhost.com

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