In other blogging news, if you weren’t at the Velvet Lounge this afternoon, you really missed out. I went to see Spencer Ackerman, the Lester Bangs of political journalism, and his band The Surge kick out the jams, but the two acts preceding them were just as impressive.
First up was Gull (aka Nathaniel Rappole), probably the only person capable of playing a drum kit and a lead guitar line at the same time. With a skull mask on. From the looks of it, he’d rigged his red Tele to act like a Chapman Stick; that is, he could finger a note and it’d play without any strumming. It sounded like nothing so much as a math rock version of the first Rage Against the Machine album, which is to say it was pretty fantastic.
Next up was Max and the Marginalized, featuring Max “Son of Carl” Bernstein on vocals. They do great protest pop-punk; Spencer described them as “the Buzzcocks mashed with Matt Yglesias”, which seems more accurate than the WaPo‘s “Hüsker Dü mashed with Yglesias” formulation. In any case, they’re been a severe dearth of good antiwar and anti-administration protest music over the past eight years, and Max and co. go a long way toward ending it, with songs on everything from FISA to John Yoo to Lou Dobbs. Also, they had the funniest mic check in, um, ever. Max: “Could you turn down the highs a bit? My guitar’s sounding pretty shrill.” Spencer: “Shrill like Brad DeLong!”
The Surge itself was surprisingly ambient; Ezra‘s summary, “Explosions in the Sky crossed with blogging”, is pretty accurate. But even when doing slow-moving material, Spencer was active enough to break his drum cymbal. How punk rock is that?