Sunday, November 2, 2008

Can We Kick It?

Yes we can.

After a needlessly long ordeal, Pockets and I and a couple of friends scored tickets to yesterday's Friendly Fires/Lykke Li show. The ordeal, fyi, resulted from the fact that the tickets I had ordered were delivered to my former place of work, which I have been banished from, which fired its mail staff weeks ago, and which, apparently, also, fired the receptionist who's supposed to answer phones during business hours. This, people, is how you conduct an orderly dissolution. Anyway, after some haggling with Ticketweb, an organization that makes up for its lack of Ticketmaster-like clout with Ticketmaster-like intransigence, we secured our tickets and headed to the show.

Friendly Fires, a dancey, post-shoegazey rock act from St. Albans, a London suburban outlet made up primarily of pubs and abbeys, barrelled onto stage with massive hip-shaking energy. There were many highlights, but the guitarist playing his instrument with a Dustbuster was perhaps the most memorable. Go out and see them, if you have a chance. Such unself-conscious silly sweaty dancing surely makes the world a better place.

Next came Lykke Li, whose rise to fame has been documented in these pages. Her performance was largely disappointing -- while 'Pockets found her breast-heaving "hip-hop" dance moves amusing, her dancing proved a little much for me, as did her thin vocals and odd tendency to slam a cymbal occasionally. Scandinavian pop, I am now realizing, is best when paired with the polish of studio production. Anyway, here's what's interesting. During the encore to her set she introduced a song thusly: You all are hipsters. You'll know this one. Then she a capellad straight into the intro of an iconic song that indeed all should know and love, but a weird confusion set over the audience. I noticed it immediately, as immediately as I registered the foundational beats for Tribe's "Can I Kick It" (above) emanating through the speakers: the crowd of 20-something San Franciscans, raised on irony and little else, had no idea what hipster staple they were being exposed to. The annoying midget dance brigade that had saddled up next to us were left motionless. Finally, the discordant opening notes gave way to some totally haphazard rapping on Lykke's part, then a failed call-and-response with the essential question from 90's hip hop left dangling in the air:

Can I kick it? She asked.
Yes you can, only some responded.

There is much to love about the West Coast, but there is also much to loathe. This would never, ever, ever happen in New York City. And in that moment I missed the Boroughs like I haven't in a long time.

As the spectacle devolved, it occurred to me that there was a good deal of pro-Obama-message-mongering that could have been had from this moment as well. I mean, why not, can we kick it, or can he kick it? Sure, it would take some serious rhetorical skill to replace Mr Dinkins, will you please be my mayor? with the syllabically gratuitous Mr. Obama, will you please be my president? but the moment called for this, no? Sadder still than these missed opportunites was the revelation that the thought had in fact occurred to Lykke herself. The chorus she lamely attempted was soon aborted and what followed was this cheerleading closing:

Give me an O....O!
Give me a B....B!
Give me an O....O?
Give me an M....M!
Give me an A....A!

Vote. Rocked.

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