Zombie Politics

I drank your milkshake.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Junior Boys @ Café Nine – September 6th

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I guess I should talk about the Junior Boys show I went to a couple of weeks ago in New Haven. Not that I don’t want to, per se, it’s just that almost everyone else is (from the Village Voice to two major articles on Pitchfork). So, why shouldn’t I? I should. So I am.

On September 6th the Junior Boys played Café Nine in New Haven. I should probably start by saying I had no idea what kind of “venue” Café Nine was. The Junior Boys were playing the following night at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City, which is a fairly huge-ish sort of place. Café Nine is not. In fact, it’s tiny. It’s roughly the size of a fat man’s coffin – a long bar with a tiny, almost hexagonal stage towards the front. The guy outside the door was collecting ten dollars from people and professing ignorance to what the band was actually going to be.

“Beats me,” he apologetically informed someone right before we walked in.

This is what the clueless ticket collecting guy should have said: the Junior Boys are magic. Because they are. They’re a couple of Canadian guys (it used to be Jeremy Greenspan and Johnny Dark, now it’s Greenspan and Matt Didemus) who create some of the most blissful, pretty pop music out there. While the first album had more of a dance-y edge, their recent So This is Goodbye resonates with more breezy sensibilities. “In the Morning,” the absolutely killer lead-off single, is easily one of the year’s greatest tracks (ranking with “Maneater” and “Whoo! Alright-Yeah… Uh Huh” as one of 2006’s premiere pop achievements).

They took to the stage after an opening French Canadian band called Ensemble; only notable because of the hilarious way they pronounced their name (kind of like Ali G in Talladega Nights). It should be known that I had also never seen a picture of the band. Based on the airy, cherubic vocals on the albums I expected the lead singer to be some kind of impish waif. What I got was a tubby Jewish guy with a big red beard and a white disco blazer. Somehow, by defying my expectations, it fit perfectly. At some point he took off his jacket and complained about the heat. Someone from the back (there were maybe 50 of us there) hooted.

“No,” Greenspan deadpanned, “it’s because I’m fat.”

Later in the show he said he really liked Gilmore Girls and asked us if anyone knew Rory Gilmore. More hooting. “Really?” he asked. It was good to know that all the information out-of-towners can gather about New Haven (and Yale) is from a television program on the former WB. He asked where it took place.

“Stars Hollow,” I answered. I was right up against the little stage. I looked downward, zoning out in that singular, between-song way.

“Is that a real place?” he asked.

By the time I looked up I realized that I was having a conversation with the lead singer of a fairly important pop band, and that this singer was still on stage in the middle of a set.

“Oh, no,” I answered.

“Where’s it supposed to be?”

“Somewhere in Fairfield County I think…” and trailed off. Somewhere, someone hooted again.

The truth of the matter, when I thought about it later, is that it isn’t supposed to be in Fairfield County. Fairfield County is far too metropolitan for Stars Hollow. A quick trip to Wikipedia informed me that it is based on “Washington Depot, Connecticut (located in the middle of the western half of the state, about 45 minutes from both Hartford and New Haven).” I really fucked that one up.

The hour long set the duo performed (with the help of a drummer, which was kind of silly) was great. Laid back but easily dance-able, they covered a lot of territory; a nice mix of both Last Exit and So This is Goodbye without any real surprises (not that they were going to cover “I Would Die 4 U,” but a boy can dream). They played for about an hour, with a brief encore. The crowd was well versed in both albums (which was kind of surprising considering that the second album wasn’t scheduled to come out for another week – damn internet piracy!) An example of how intimate and comfortable the show was: at one point somebody yelled out “Teach Me How to Fight” (a ditty from the first album). Greenspan looked out at us, shrugged, and said “okay.” Then, they played the song.


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