Saturday, November 15, 2008

The (International) Noise Conspiracy at Club Nokia. November 13, 2008.

Forgive the indulgent “I” statements and high school attitude that follow; I've watched the (International) Noise Conspiracy open for the Offspring and – as of this week – Taking Back Sunday, and though it's petty to resent a mere band for performing at large, corporate-owned venues with touring bands they clearly dislike, I started resenting this band for doing so despite preaching against capitalism and the like since the start of their musical career. It's hypocritical to preach against “the man” and then allow said Man with a capital “M” to promote your art to a greater audience. Even musicians need to make a living, but to compromise this deeply?

I fell in love with T(I)NC for sparking my interest in topics like socialism, communism and anarchism, systems I never really learned about in school. That they promoted reading and independent thought, and introduced me to Emma Goldman, now a minor hero of mine, via a briefly shown quote in a stupid music video with stupid lyrics and a swinging tune. This band, I fell in love with for its '60s aesthetic and fierce style, and the unmatched scream of its frontman, previously the center of what may be the best hardcore band of all time. I loved what this band stood for, and the way it presented itself.

Thursday evening, however, its performance was wedged between skate-rappers 3OH!3, whose best line was “Do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips,” and a chunk of that genre which refuses to call itself emo, Taking Back Sunday. Bands have been accused of selling out many times, but this wasn't selling out the way a band like, say, TV on the Radio has been accused (in which a good band gets signed to a major, continues to release good records, and finally gets credit for its work). No, this was a solid band getting lumped into an MTV lineup, performing to girls and guys with hair straightened and sideswept (not respectively), themselves now looking like a parody.

The political talk was more lukewarm than usual – Obama's just one man, we the people ought to take over the White House, no, I haven't made this speech twenty times before – and the group came out looking like a Topanga Canyon project of Devendra's, or perhaps a crop of extras from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Purple suits, Dennis Lyxzén in a cape, the group one haircut shy of looking forty years too late (said exception being bass player Inge Johansson, the perpetually clean cut goth). Per usual, there was “Up for Sale” (why yes, yes we are), “Capitalism Stole My Virginity,” and “Black Mask (2004),” which has permanently replaced 1999's “Black Mask,” one of the simplest yet most vicious songs in their catalog.

But in an unexpected turn, Lyxzén quotes his “good friend” Patti Smith on the definition of rock and roll, and then says, “but I'm just not feeling it tonight – too much bad politics, bad music, bad haircuts.” A swipe at his tour mates and the audience standing before him, and it completely goes over the heads of all. So the band launches into “Waiting for Salvation,” and Lyxzén jumps off an Orange amp, well over the head of guitarist Lars Stromberg, whose Mick Avory face is now covered with the history of Southern rock, and a complete set of speakers on stage right goes out, perhaps in an odd turn of karma.

We're pissed, but we cheer when the sound returns, at which point we've missed some comments about Sweden being a complete turnaround from L.A., and then...god, yes, “A Body Treatise.” A rather handy cameraperson manages to shift the direction of the camera (whose footage is projected beside the stage) during a simulated act of fellatio, rather par for the song, and the band transitions into “I Am the Dynamite,” their new atheist anthem. By the time the show ends, Lyxzén has ripped off the upper half of his suit to reveal a well-established Straight Edge tattoo on his lower back, and the band concludes with fists in the air, Constantines-style, receiving few props from an audience who'd given greater cheers to the dope beats or whatever of 3OH!3.

Has this band become too good for its songs? Part two to follow...

T(I)NC - Waiting for Salvation
Purchase Bigger Cages, Longer Chains
T(I)NC - A Body Treatise (live)
Purchase Live at the Oslo Jazz Festival

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