Friday, January 30, 2004

This newly republished Freaky Trigger article got me thinking about music's relationship with America's suburbs. Now, I don't know too much about English suburbs despite maybe living in one for a year (is Twickenham a suburb? It seemed pretty urban to me at the time). But if Tom Ewing's description is to be believed, English suburbs are nothing like American ones; there's nothing quiet or modest about American suburbs. They're shiny, ostentatious, and absolutely ridiculous in so many ways that it boggles the mind. But American popular music has really never engaged the suburbs in any kind of comprehensive or balanced way; every song about the suburbs - from the Monkees' "Pleasant Valley Sunday" to, I don't know, virtually any early 80s hardcore song - has pretty much just said that the suburbs are bland and conformist and sucky. Which, OK, but it doesn't say anything about the uniquely great experiences of growing up suburban, like getting drunk in 7-11 parking lots or piling into a car, getting lost on the way to a show at some VFW hall.

This is one of the reasons why I think Grand Buffet is so insanely great. They absolutely nail the way suburban kids revel in all this stuff. "The flashing lights and the crackling sound of the world's last Applebee's burning down." "I never make eye contact in arcades." This stuff is gold. How many bands have even acknowledged the existence of Applebee's in their lyrics?

Grand Buffet will be in town opening for Sage Francis in a couple of weeks. I like Sage Francis, but this will just be another notch on the list of Grand Buffet opening for someone in Baltimore and blowing them off the stage: Cex (sorry Rjyan), Deerhoof, Sole, Har Mar Superstar. The only band I've seen that could hang with Grand Buffet was the Dismemberment Plan playing to a packed, delirious house at the absolute pinnacle of their powers. Seriously, go see Grand Buffet.