If you are like most people who have ever lived, you are not working at the job of your dreams. Most nights are not the best night of your lives. This is why the little moments matter, like an hour in the company of the ecstatic doomshow of Matt Korvette, a punk rocker of the old school hardcore variety, who commands Pissed Jeans, a graphic-t-shirt-in-flannel band from Allentown, PA.
They were among the strange of array of performances happening across Brooklyn that evening, opening the borough’s 9th annual Northside Festival. At one point, Northside was among a number of captivating and now-defunct music festivals put on every year by local media institutions, like the Village Voice’s Siren/4knots Music Festival or CMJ’s Music Marathon, organizations that once had enough clout to book bands like R.E.M and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in their heyday—even Solange once played Northside–all alongside any newcomer who wanted to submit their demo tape. Now, only Northside remains, regulated to small city of micro-venues and an imposing array of “talks” about “innovation” that accompany a very narrow line of headliners. Parquet Courts, a band that got their start playing adored and then absconded gigs at places like Death By Audio and Glasslands will be “headlining” the festival from a boat on Sunday.
This Thursday, the hip and connected had gathered to see either Liz Phair tour for a record that she had released twenty-five years ago or a singer who records as Snail Mail whose career had been rigorously championed by publication editors for well over a year. The less connected had been told that no more press were being let in. They thought such things like: gosh, guess Phair is not so “calculated” now, huh? Hanging their dejections on their necks like a small stone of shame, Pissed Jeans’s industrial-strength cleanse was a revelation, a stone of triumph, even.
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Korvette, himself a music journalist of a less pedigreed sort, arrived in very tight skinny jeans and an ill-fitting mesh–part Harry Rollins, part Freddie Mercury at the end of a long day and ready to rage. Punk has been back in vogue lately, with bands like Turnstile given the major record deals that a band like Parquet Courts will never see in their entire career but Pissed Jeans antecedes this latest fashion. Given the insularity of their sound, existing to be yelled and never politely listened to, it feels miraculous that they manage to share a label with names like Father John Misty and the Fleet Foxes. Imaging hear something like “Love Without Emotion” at an Urban Outfitters, which yells at the listener: You’re vomiting next to me, while I ﬁnish my ice cream/I’m handed a love letter but I’m not sure what it means.
Pissed Jeans played that song along with a handful of others. Shortly after a performance of the spunky anti-astrology anthem “(Won’t Tell You) My Sign,”—you try to guess my sign/but you’ll never understand/why I feel what I feel— a circle developed in the crowd. A kindly mosh pit? Here in Brooklyn where the beer is never less than $9? Bodies gleefully hurled, round and round. Big throbbing bass chords blasted from wall to wall, they were now playing the oldies and Korvette was yelling: Go ahead, you can use the microwave!!! It’s an excellent kitchen tool!!! The hour was up too soon and patrons stumbled out to streets blasting the leftover remains of that Brooklyn sound.