The Plug Awards @ Irving Plaza, 2-10-07, pt. 1
Congratulations to the Grammys, the big winner at Saturday's Plug Awards. Because with the arrival of this two-year-old ceremony, the Grammys no longer hold the title for the most inept, pointless and ridiculous music show. In fact, I'm still not entirely sure what went down at Irving Plaza that night. My best guess is that the organizers plotted the show on a cocktail napkin an hour before showtime, spilled a drink on said napkin, and then ran the show based on the inkspots and smudges.
The Plug Awards kicked off with a brief appearance by a marching band, who were succeeded by a suit-clad barbershop quartet. It made no sense of course, but it was early so it still seemed delightfully kooky at the time. They sang a few lines from Band of Horses' "The Funeral." After that, an image popped up on a video screen announcing that it had won the Song of the Year. Huh? Was this the show? People were already starting to look confused and the host hadn't even turned up.
David Cross did come on next, explaining how this process was going to work. Apparently, only three more categories (out of thirty-three) would be presented, there were no actual awards or speeches, and none of the winners were there. (And somehow, Album Art of the Year qualified as one of the all-important three.) That seemed like a pretty weird deviation, but Cross was being hilarious and spontaneous so I didn't care. And I was busy trying to keep from yelling out "Douche chill!" and "Huzzah!" all night.
Tokyo Police Club were the leadoff band, looking like they'd just caught the L from Bedford Avenue. They played exactly what I was expecting--fun, rhythmic, guitar-driven dance-rock. It's what you used to call "angular" and name-check Gang of Four to describe before those became lazy shorthands. (Now you do it anyway and point out that they're lazy shorthands.) I enjoyed their set well enough, but it was exciting in an overly familiar way, fun in the standard three-Brooklyn-lagers-at-Lit kind of way. I bet I would've liked them more in that brief span post-Interpol and pre-Bloc Party, but in the here and now, I wanted something that felt newer.
Of course, the TPC seemed like straight-up pioneers compared to the iffy entertainment slotted between performances. The first such disaster was Jason Trachtenburg of the Trachtenburg family singing "The World's Best Friend" as a totally nonsensical way to announce the Album Art of the Year nominees. Since his wife and daughter couldn't attend, he was backed by a stand-in singer. The performance was hoarse, painful and cringe-worthy, like an overearnest talent show put on by a relative. Trachtenburg might as well have been Harvey Fierstein with a sore throat and the whole thing felt like an awkward homage to Ana Gasteyer and Will Farrell's out-of-touch music teachers, The Culps. Anyway, Hot Chip won, a few people clapped, though most were just relieved that segment was over.
Deerhoof was the second act up thankfully, and their excellence was a nice change of pace. I've been a fan of their mutated, refracted, transfigured takes on pop, rock and noise for a while, but got especially interested in the band last year in San Francisco. This was my first time seeing them live, and the transition between album and concert was just right. My one complaint was that Satomi Matsuzaki's vocals were largely drowned out, but the music went far in compensating. It was muscular and mystical, with riffs that could blow open bank safes. Though Deerhoof is experimental and schizophrenic enough that I often prefer them in smaller servings, I would've loved to have another hour with the band that night. That feeling only intensified when I saw all the other inexplicable oddities and mishaps Plug still had in store...
Tune in tomorrow for reports on El-P (with video), Silversun Pickups and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.
* MP3: "Matchbook Seeks Maniac" - Deerhoof from Friend Opportunity
* MP3: "+81" - Deerhoof from Friend Opportunity [Buy it]
* MP3: "Douche Chill" - Tobias Funke
* Artist Website: Deerhoof
Tags: Plug Awards, Irving Plaza, David Cross, Tokyo Police Club, Deerhoof, MP3