Saturday, September 13, 2008

Adam Tanaka's Guide to Lawnparties Bands

(Lupe Fiasco: Not Kanye, but still pretty cool.)

Well, it’s that time of year again: out come the Ray Bans, pin stripes, and flip flops. And once again, the line up really isn’t anything to write home about. But I’m gonna write home about it anyway; or at least write to the Street Blog. Here we go, club by club, a run-down of the talented and not-so-talented who will be blaring loudly across Prospect in less than 36 hours.

CHARTER: Seemingly convinced that bringing U2 to Princeton wasn’t a bad enough idea, Charter club are roping in the appallingly named cover band 2U to provide some Irish luvvin’ Sunday afternoon. Expect the usual anthems – “Vertigo,” “Beautiful Day,” hopefully a tongue-in-cheek rendition of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – and revel in the fact that you’re watching someone who not only likes Bono, but likes him enough to dress up like him. Fingers crossed for those wrap-around shades, and maybe a look-a-like Bob Geldof if we’re lucky.

COLONIAL: Over at Colonial we’ll have yet another cover band playing us some familiar classics, in this case a selection of the Dave Matthews Band’s back catalogue. So for those of you who like their Dave Matthews, 2pm at Colonial is the place to be. And hopefully they’ll play Dave Matthews’ early hit single “Ants Marching” as they watch the swarm of Princeton students marching on up the Street to see someone else.

T.I.: Having spent their entire annual budget on beer, T.I. has only been able to hire alumni band “Where’s Waldo” to play on Sunday afternoon. For those deluded (or drunken) few who aren’t over at Quad cheering for Lupe Fiasco, I wish you luck. And at least it fails to beat last year’s lawnparties band “Gonzo’s Nose” for ‘WORST BAND NAME EVER IN THE WORLD’ award. This is them at Cottage last year:

TOWER: The main performer at Tower this year will be singer-Songwriter Eric Hutchinson, whose greatest achievement was to have his song “Rock & Roll” featured on the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” soundtrack. Now that is pretty darn cool. And surprisingly enough – considering the number of cover bands choking Prospect this year – that isn’t a cover of the Led Zeppelin song, but a breezy, reggae-tinged pop/rocker, quite pleasant but also instantly forgettable. Opening for Hutchinson at 12:30 will be Amanda Duncan, a folk-lite acoustic rocker who sounds rather a lot like Jack Johnson, if Jack Johnson was a woman. She also seems to be rather into recycling, and banjos, judging by her MySpace page.

IVY: Performing at Ivy are the Beach Bumz Band, whose choice of cover songs continues what seems like a deliberate trend to alliterate the letter B: the Beach Boys, Bob Marley, and Jimmy Buffet are apparently favourites. So, expect a nice mix of surfer songs, reggae classics and utter crap. Eeek:

TERRACE: An interesting riff on the word naysayer, New York Band Yeasayer describe their music as “Middle Eastern-psych-snap-gospel.” Whatever the hell that means. Anyway a brief Youtubing trip reveals a surprisingly poppy, Smiths-influenced sound, with hooky mix of high-pitched vocals and jangly guitar playing. And opening for them at 1:30 is the Philly rap group Plastic Little, whose single “Cheap Thrills” transforms MJ’s “Thriller” into a towering electro-rap anthem. Not that “Thriller” wasn’t a dance anthem already. But anyway, if you wanna rave it up, you better be there.

QUAD: And saving the best for last, we have this year’s main attraction, Chicago-based hip hopper Lupe Fiasco. Often referred to as the most lyrically talented rapper working in the mainstream today, Lupe deserves a big pat on the back for being able to bring nerdy hip hop back to the top of the charts. He raps about comic books, skateboards and hamburgers – among other, deeper issues – and even managed to make the line “the economic pecking order of relief distribution systems” sound good on his last album, “The Cool.” Point is, he is cool. So be there. And if you’re camping out for front row seats you’ll likely be treated to the folk-rock stylings of opener Matt Nathanson – if you recognise any of his songs, that means you’ve watched the “American Pie” movies a few too many times. According to his wiki entry, his song “Laid” has featured on two of their soundtracks. Sounds like a good song.

CLOISTER: Another lawnparties band, another terrible name. Performing at Cloister from 2 to 5 PM we have Fools and Horses, a four-man band who peddle a very glossy brand of anthemic rock. Seemingly intent on recreating the blandest mid-eighties hard rock – think Journey, or Foreigner – this is really nothing special. Expect some soaring choruses and crunching riffs, and a singer with the most irritating voice in the world:

COTTAGE: Performing at Cottage club Sunday afternoon are Sweetbriar, who seem to like drinking rather a lot, if their MySpace page is anything to go by – Jack Daniels and cocktails are featured in their profile pic, and their EP is called “The Hangover Sessions.” Well, sounds like they’ll be a perfect fit for Cottage – and with their utterly forgettable “country rock & soul” style, they’ll also fit in fine with almost every other band playing Lawnparties this year.