Beer and Pavement

Meme Away: Braffed

Posted in Manifesto by SM on February 11, 2010

A meme is developing1

There’s been some good talk around these parts lately. That hipster who hadn’t heard of Pavement struck a collective nerve. It seems young folks are as unaware of the context surrounding their blog bands as olds are ignorant to the latest bands and musical trends. These are important issues that must be explored. First up: Zach Braff and why he hates America.

Consider this (the scene essentially ends around a minute and a half, so don’t watch it past that point unless you think Zach Braff is hot)…

A cute girl2 offers you her headphones. You listen for all of ten seconds and your life is changed forever. Or something like that.

Many point to this scene as the end of indie rock as we once knew it. A band that was personal and private was finally exposed to the masses and it all blew up. Suddenly every jackass with a wifi connection was reading Pitchfork and downloading the latest Mp3’s from Napster3. No longer were bands discovered in clubs, on college radio, in record stores, or wherever. Once Braff4 broke The Shins, folks couldn’t get enough of the band…or at least enough of that one song playing on Natalie Portman’s iPod in that one movie with the guy from Scrubs.

Braffites loved the Shins for all the wrong reasons. They didn’t care that James Mercer and co. sounded like the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, or Guided By Voices5. The irony of their place in Sub Pop’s lineup among the legends of grunge was lost on them. The context of the original video for the song had no meaning to the frat boys and jock straps with man-crushes on Zach Braff. (Look below.)

In the video, there are scenes reminiscent of album covers by The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, and The Minutemen, among others. Do you think any of the bros who watched that scene gave a shit about any of those bands? Hell, they didn’t know who those bands were. They just knew that chicks like Natalie Portman liked that kind of music and it could help to show their sensitive sides6.

Suddenly, indie became a mainstream genre, a genre with which one could label tracks on iTunes. There were as many backwards hats at shows as there were black-rimmed glasses. The bands and music that was once a secret was now there for everyone. It wasn’t about finding that rare Girls vs. Boys/Guided By Voices7 split 7″ anymore. It’s about creating your own personal brand…


What was once private and truly appreciated by just a few has now been prostituted out by the likes of Braff and his bros to the masses with no deeper meaning than “it sound cool.” This is what I like to refer to as being “Braffed.” Braffed is when a bunch of d-bags get the inside scoop on a band or movement in the underground and claim it as their own for no other reason than they think it will make them look cool. They have no context for the music. They don’t know the history. It’s just something they can post on their MyFace page as if it were a badge of honor. F that.

The real problem a Braffed band or album causes is the musical ignorance in our children8. Music becomes “just music” and “a little bit of everything” becomes a musical genre. The message of a song is lost as the Braffication pairs the music with images of Volkswagen and iPods. Braffing scares me like no other scourge ever has9.

How do you feel about Braffing? Does it worry you that something you once cherished as your own would soon be loved by all the meatheads on Jersey Shore10? What’s something you once thought was only special to you but is now soiled by a major Braffing?

Please tell your Braffing stories. The only way we will put an end to Zach Braff and his evil plan to destroy America is to share our experiences. Feel free to post the gory details in the comments or post them on your own blog11. We must stop the Braffing before it’s too late.

Actually, it’s been a meme long before anyone even knew what a “meme” was, but we’re exploring here.
2This is completely subjective, but Natalie Portman is not unattractive. In fact, she looks pretty good next to Devendra Banhart.
3Yes, I realize that there are better examples here and that using “Napster” dates me.
4This was long after McDonald’s and Scrubs broke them by also using “New Slang (when you notice the stripes)”.
5Let’s be honest. These new “fans” were unaware that the Beach Boys ever did anything important beyond singing about girls and beaches and they’ve never heard of the other two.
6When they weren’t practicing date rape.
7That’s twice with the Guided By Voices in one post. I must have them on the mind.
8I am going off the deep end here.
9Aside from AIDS, terrorism, global climate change, the Tea-Bagger movement, etc.
10Or at the very least be used inappropriately as Snooki get hit in the face for the fourth time this season.
11That and it will extend the meme.


Posted in Live by SM on February 10, 2010

February 8, 2010 – Girls at The Blue Note, Columbia, MO

Rock shows. I used to see a lot of rock shows back in the day. I don’t see nearly as many these days. I certainly don’t see all the ones I should, but sometimes…sometimes I make my way out of the house for a rock show or two.

I used to also go to those shows to chase girls or possibly impress them1. Once, a girl (actually, very much a woman) licked my ear clean. (Well, a dude nearly did the same at another show2.) It was all girls, beer, and rock ‘n roll back in those days.

All three of those things have completely different meanings to me now. My partner is not a girl; she’s a woman, a womyn even. The only girl in my life is only 17 months old. The beer is certainly different these days as I have traded in swill for bourbon barrel-aged, dry-hopped, Brettanomyces, etc. as my bread-in-a-bottle. Some of that has to do with an increase in income, but it mostly has to do with the development of a finer palate.

The rock ‘n roll is the one thing that hasn’t changed. I still long for new records and to see a rock show that excites me. That may explain why I hit the Blue Note3 early for this one.

Upon entering, I could tell by the empty lobby that I had made a classic, newbie mistake of going to a show too early. The openers wouldn’t go on for 45 minutes. Since I am not too young and naive to make this mistake, the only reason for my unnecessary punctuality had to be my ever-advancing age4.

At one point, I was accosted by hipsters who somehow thought I was younger than I am. They wanted to talk about bands I had no time to hear. These hipsters couldn’t understand things like being a parent, an inability to stay out after 1 am, being married to a woman who didn’t like rock shows, Girls were a rock band, and Pavement5. So, I quickly slithered away, hoping that I didn’t have to explain myself to another dude in a scarf and 12 years my junior.

Bands started playing. Memphis’ Magic Kids opened. Throughout the set, I wondered why there were so many retro 50’s/60’s acts these days. Sure, they were peppy, even poppy, but it sort of turned old and a little played rather quickly. It was like I had heard this before…I know. My parents used to program the family car/van radio to all the oldies stations in Columbus and Dayton. I know every oldies song ever. That’s what these Magic Kids sounded like except without the legendary hit-makers in their midst. At least they were happy, very happy.

The originally scheduled openers Smith Western showed up way past their curfews6 to play your favorite teen grunge band hits. They were actually a breath of fresh air as they borrowed more from 20 years ago than 50. The venue swallowed them a bit, but I have to tip my hat to any band who shows up late after many hours on the road and plays without an ounce of fatigue. This band has promise.

At some point during SW’s set, I finally found a table of friends and acquaintances to keep me company and not make me feel so old7.

Girls came on and ripped through their set rather effortlessly. They played fresh and poppy at the start. The middle had the expected lull, but they finished strong. I was most appreciative of the two-song encore. It was way past my bedtime at this point.

Girls were good but not unexpected. Although it was a rock show I sought and received, it also contained the prerequisite forgettable openers, too green to be memorable. Those things were the same.

Maybe one of these days some band will help me remember what was like to be excited at a rock show again. That would be new and the same, but it would be welcome either way.

1It was mostly to see the rock show and ogle at young girls who were way out of my league. Ah, youth.
2OK, so the lick from the woman was unwanted. She asked for my last cigarette, which I produced as I had another pack in the car. She was a middle-aged groupie/photographer at a Guided By Voices show in Dayton, OH. The dude who licked my face was Eric Davidson of New Bomb Turks who were opening for…yes, you guessed it…Guided By Voices. However, this time it was the year prior at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus where Dime-Bag Darrell was shot.
3The Blue Note is the big rock show venue here in Columbia, MO, my current home.
4Which continues to advance in years come Thursday.
5A 23-year-old guy thought that Pavement was a super group of some sort. Well, if mean that they were super awesome and could conjure Satan in a young virgin’s womb by simply playing a single note, he would have been wrong. They aren’t a super group by any definition. They’re my favorite band and you may have heard something about a reunion tour this summer.
6Rumor had it they were all seven and that they had to wait for their mom to get back from the grocery to take them to the gig.
7They were all people who work with my wife and a spouse. They all get out more than I, so I’m not sure who made whom feel young.

Tagged with: , , , , ,