Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby scannest » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:30 am

Daniel Johnston played in DC yesterday "backed by members of Fugazi" (at least that is how it was advertised).

Anybody here have any details as far as the players involved? Can't find anything but a setlist online at the moment.
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Re: Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby BAIN » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:21 am

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Re: Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby BAIN » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:24 am

other players were Anthony Pirog and Janel Leppin
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Re: Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby scannest » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:29 am

I knew someone here would have the info. Thanks!
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Re: Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby FlexMyHead » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:41 pm

He and Wesley Willis fans always confused me, somewhat. Did you 'really' like the songs or just think it was arty or cool to like songs written by someone with mental health issues? I get that someone that thinks differently and has very different perceptions and interactions with their environment, world, people and themselves is going to create something pretty unique, but from memory, I didn't really think the songs stood out that much? For Wesley Willis (who seemed more impaired and had more pronounced issues) I straight up feel like people were laughing "at" and not "with" him.

I think I lump Beat Happening in with this. What the fuck was that band all about?!
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Re: Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby FormerLurker » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:39 pm

FlexMyHead wrote:He and Wesley Willis fans always confused me, somewhat. Did you 'really' like the songs or just think it was arty or cool to like songs written by someone with mental health issues? I get that someone that thinks differently and has very different perceptions and interactions with their environment, world, people and themselves is going to create something pretty unique, but from memory, I didn't really think the songs stood out that much? For Wesley Willis (who seemed more impaired and had more pronounced issues) I straight up feel like people were laughing "at" and not "with" him.

I think I lump Beat Happening in with this. What the fuck was that band all about?!


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Re: Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby SamDBL » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:48 pm

FormerLurker wrote:
FlexMyHead wrote:He and Wesley Willis fans always confused me, somewhat. Did you 'really' like the songs or just think it was arty or cool to like songs written by someone with mental health issues? I get that someone that thinks differently and has very different perceptions and interactions with their environment, world, people and themselves is going to create something pretty unique, but from memory, I didn't really think the songs stood out that much? For Wesley Willis (who seemed more impaired and had more pronounced issues) I straight up feel like people were laughing "at" and not "with" him.

I think I lump Beat Happening in with this. What the fuck was that band all about?!


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Yeah, I hate to say it, but you are spot on. The Wesley Willis thing was ludicrous. I remember him playing a reasonably sized club here in Tampa, and a line around the block for it. To watch him bang around random keys on a Casio and make up stupid lyrics on the spot. People paying all kinds of money for sketches, too. It was some over hyped, sensationalized bullshit like the cash me outside girl... but for dumbass hipster dorks.
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Re: Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby scannest » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:54 am

Daniel Johnston has written some great songs. I could listen to other people play his songs and enjoy the hell out of them. I saw him open for (I think) fIREHOSE once at CB's. I knew nothing about him but it was obvious that the man had a tenuous grip on reality. Several times he was actually screaming at the audience and there was no confusion as to whether it was real or a shtick. I was scared for him (I just read a piece in the NY Times that confirmed this was '88 and that he was checked into Bellevue Hospital prior to the show for assaulting Steve Shelley).
So, while I have no doubt that his mental condition can't be separated from his artistic abilities, I don't think most of the people who buy his records/go see him perform are there to stare at the freak. I'm sure there are some, but they are the minority.
I can't speak to Mr. Willis. As far as Beat Happening goes, those guys were middle-class art students playing at being outsider artists. Like Johnston, they did manage to write some great songs that I enjoyed listening to other people cover.
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Re: Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby FlexMyHead » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:15 am

scannest wrote:Daniel Johnston has written some great songs. I could listen to other people play his songs and enjoy the hell out of them. I saw him open for (I think) fIREHOSE once at CB's. I knew nothing about him but it was obvious that the man had a tenuous grip on reality. Several times he was actually screaming at the audience and there was no confusion as to whether it was real or a shtick. I was scared for him (I just read a piece in the NY Times that confirmed this was '88 and that he was checked into Bellevue Hospital prior to the show for assaulting Steve Shelley).


Well, I do like that song of his about true love finding you in the end and I bet there are other ones that I wouldn't mind either. It's just that when he play(ed) guitar on the recordings I heard, he'd like hit every single string and his strum patterns were just like, uh, odd. Again, I'm not saying that a singer needs perfect pitch (for fucks sake, I listen to Crimpshrine!) or the bands needs to play each note pristine, but his recordings were often a hot mess. I get the beauty in that also. But I can't help thinking that if he had no mental health issues, would there be the same attention?

For example, not sure if you heard about this, but recently there was a musician in Oakland that was at a coffee shop and some dude ran by and grabbed his laptop and he (Dave) chased after him and grabbed onto the car and was killed. I had met Dave in Sarasota like 20 years ago as he was a huge trader of live shows, we'd trade shows we'd record etc. I met him once to trade tapes and he brought his guitar and just started singing songs to me and didn't stop for like 30m, I was trapped! Anyway, he was also very arty (didn't like to record stuff, moved all the time etc). I'm not sure if he had mental health issues or not, but his songs were just as sincere etc and his voice was kinda raspy etc, but fuck, his songs were a fucking a lot better than Daniel Johnston's (in my opinion). I'm sure each town has about 20 people just like him at every open mic. (http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/M ... 748739.php).

So, while I have no doubt that his mental condition can't be separated from his artistic abilities, I don't think most of the people who buy his records/go see him perform are there to stare at the freak. I'm sure there are some, but they are the minority.


Yeah, don't want to get into a huge debate and my job kinda involves mental health issues/people so maybe I'm more sensitive, but I wasn't so much saying that people were going to gawk at him or that people were laughing. But I do think there is some "parading him out". I wonder to what extent his perception is of all of this. I'm not sure he realizes that people aren't going to see some old dude in sweat pants (dirty ones) barely sing songs with 'real' musicians playing along with him. When you have someone with a different perception of reality, do you have an obligation to consider how they view things versus what is really happening? By that, I mean, do you care if he thinks that he could write a hit song that is going to be on the radio? Should you tell him, "Hey, a certain group of people like you, but there is no way that is happening. They are going to see you sing songs with other famous people." It does seem like he is being exploited to a certain extent.

EDIT: I just googled him and the first article I found had these quotes:

His brother conceded that the tour was his idea, not Daniel’s,

When asked if he was excited about touring, he answered with a long, drawn-out, “Ehh,” before adding, “a little bit.”

If nothing else, the artists Mr. Johnston is scheduled to perform with are excited.


Gotta love that last quote....Dude with serious mental health issues doesn't really seem into a tour that his brother set up, but fuck, Brendan Canty is going to have a blast! LOL.

Other interesting quotes:

Mr. Johnston doesn’t know the musicians personally and isn’t familiar with their music

It’s not clear the musicians involved understand Mr. Johnston’s current level of impairment, which appears more pronounced than it had been in the past


Sounds like a good time for the back band, the audience, his brother, the club...even if Daniel Johnston might even become more impaired or traumatized. Even if he is, maybe he will write some new songs and can tour again, this time from a gurney!

I can't speak to Mr. Willis.


Well, I saw him perform when he was on Alternative Tentacles with his glam metal band. Even odder, Willis opened up for The Mr. T Experience (who the fuck set that show up?). At this show (and maybe it was cause it was pop-punk kids) Willis had this thing where he would head butt people, he actually had a callus on his forehead because he would headbutt things, so anyway there was a line of kids waiting to "headbutt that wierdo" and laughing and taking photos. That just really bummed me out. Willis looked like he enjoyed the attention, but also looked vacant and just off, like not present, just there. It felt like a freak show, but the 'freak' not being aware that they were the 'freak'.

Now trust me, I was conflicted because my warped sense of humor finds enormous amount of amusement and pleasure in listen to a song like:



Everytime I hear it, I laugh like a school girl. But I know that the person that wrote it was a schizophrenic that, while might have a sense of humor, I'm not sure how much it's laughing "at" or "with".

Anyway, at that show his "backing band" were this metal-ish dudes who were posing and doing Bon Jovi stage moves, acting as if they were the stars of the show. It was just pathetic and sad and made me a little depressed when people were laughing and pointing at Willis etc.

Again, I have no idea what his life would have been without the shows or if he made decent money. It's likely he could have been still doing the same thing in Chicago with zero income and lived a much worse life if people hadn't released his music etc. I just felt weird being part of it all.

As far as Beat Happening goes, those guys were middle-class art students playing at being outsider artists. Like Johnston, they did manage to write some great songs that I enjoyed listening to other people cover.


Man, I need to work on my sense of humor as this was meant to be funny. My "joke" was taking two known people that had mental health issues and then just randomly bring up a band that I couldn't stand, just for a laugh. I actually can't even remember what Beat Happening sound like, other than one song I heard (back when I was a serious pUnX) his voice sounded awful and I hated it and never listened to them again.
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Re: Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby jaybird » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:36 am

I dunno, I think a lot of Wesley Willis' material is honest-to-God hilarious. I first heard his stuff on a local morning radio show in Detroit, and had no clue about his mental capacity or lack thereof.... his songs were just funny, off-the-wall, stream-of-consciousness type shit. Daniel Johnston never really appealed to me, at least none of what little I heard ever made much of an impression on me, but again, I heard him on a college radio station for the first time, and had no clue about his mental state. And Beat Happening just sucks... that band seems like it had more of a consciously "let's pretend to be twee-autistic children" vibe by upper-middle class hipsters that always rubbed me the wrong way.
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Re: Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby scannest » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:39 am

Funny, I didn't think your reference to Beat Happening was random. I've often thought of them alongside Johnston - except that their songs were 'faux-naive'. But I like several of their songs when done by others, same as Johnston.

As far as why audiences connect with one artist and not another, that's a much bigger discussion than the relative merits of one disturbed individual vs. another. Anyone posting on a Dag Nasty messageboard gets that.
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Re: Attention Aging DC Hipsters

Postby JGJR » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:26 am

FlexMyHead wrote:Again, I have no idea what his life would have been without the shows or if he made decent money. It's likely he could have been still doing the same thing in Chicago with zero income and lived a much worse life if people hadn't released his music etc. I just felt weird being part of it all.


I get your concern and feel similarly (always found his songs funny but never went to see him), but ultimately I think the above is the most important thing.
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