Whatup, rumor mongrels? Spring Fling is barely a month away (May 5, if you’re keeping score), and you guys are impatient as sin, nahmean?
Seriously, though, you’ve waited long enough, we have the scoop, here’s what’s up: Social Committee has finally—finally—confirmed the acts for Spring Fling ’11, and it’s pretty damn fly. And no, it’s not Kesha—that would mess with the Committee’s astute alliterative action. In the order they’ll be performing (click on, hurry hurry hurry!)
Whoah: Wavves, Walkmen, Wu-Tang, what!? The lineup almost follows what Sheek identified last year as a “loosely defined Spring Fling template that’s fallen into place over the past few years: pedigreed rap act, indie buzz band, raucous opening act.” Except the “indie buzz band” and “raucous opening act” are both Wavves. Walkmen have been steadily building up acclaim since 2002 (with good reason, I’ll add). If you’ve never listened, it’s a pretty good time to start.
Together, headliners Ghostface Killah and Raekwon comprise 2/9 of the classic Wu-Tang Clan lineup—the legendary congregation of nine Staten Island-based rap characters whose hard-hitting 1993 debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), set the groundwork for everyone from Nas and Jay-Z to, more recently, LA’s Odd Future collective (who, incidentally, will not be performing at Spring Fling, though it’s not too late to roadtrip to Coachella).
Known for his brassy, in-your-face flow, scattered narratives, and vivid, stream-of-consciousness wordplay, Ghostface—AKA Ironman, AKA Tony Starks, AKA Dennis Coles—is arguably the Wu-Tang’s best emcee, and almost certainly its most prolific: with eight studio albums in ten years and two more on the way (plus that MF Doom collab I’ve been waiting for forfuckingever), the guy’s spree doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon. The Ghostface solo catalog can be a bit overwhelming, but 2000’s Supreme Clientele (apparent sequel coming soon) and 2006’s Fishscale (my personal fave, featuring top tracks “Kilo,” “R.A.G.U,” and “Whip You With a Strap”) are generally regarded as the best of the bunch. As Pitchfork’s Jamin Warren wrote about the former: “Ghostface’s verses are so absurd and flow with such meticulous ease, you can’t help but feel like the man is teasing you, drawing you into livid comprehension before kicking you in the balls.”
Ghostface was last seen at Wes headlining Spring Fling 2004, which we missed by half a decade or so, though I’m curious for alumni perspectives in the comments. Joining him onstage will be fellow Wu-Tang alum Raekwon, whose Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang just dropped this month to mostly positive reviews. Ghost and Rae have collaborated more than any other Wu-Tang members—including Ghost’s heavy presence on Raekwon’s now classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and its 2009 sequel. I’m psyched to see them Bring Da Ruckus on Foss. [By the way, guys, Ghostface is seeking interns on Twitter, where he also provides some wise Valentine’s Day advice. Follow him!]
Wavves may not be the most original act on this lineup, but they are pretty unquestionably the most fun. Like Apples in Stereo out to brunch with Psychocandy (hell, “When Will You Come” even cops that album’s opening “Be My Baby” drum riff), the San Diego-based act (originally the one-man bedroom project of Nathan Williams, now a trio) plays loud, hook-happy noise-pop that fuses lo-fi shitgaze aesthetics with sun-drenched California harmonies. The result’s about as infectious as it is raucous.
After recovering from an onstage drug-fueled breakdown at 2009’s Primavera festival, Wavves reconvened for last year’s mostly irresistible King of the Beach, featuring an actual rhythm section(!!!) and noted ’60s pop influence (hello, “Da Doo Ron Ron” sample). Seriously: it’s fun, and features jovial lyrical gems like “My own friends hate me / But I don’t give a shit.” Pitchfork described it as owing “more to Dookie than Doolittle,” which is hilarious because it’s true, but if you’re drunk enough you’ll probably just think Black Lips’ set from last year never ended.
And then there’s The Walkmen, the New York-based quintet that’s been steadily building recognition since 2002 debut Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone.
This act is likely to generate the least attention of the three, but it’s also the one I’m most excited for. Absent Wavve’s druggie antics and Wu-Tang’s obvious name recognition, Walkmen just play fantastic, anthemic, guitar-driven indie-rock, no drama. They sound a bit like Broken Social Scene if they rocked out more, or The Strokes with more interesting songwriting (or maybe Hamilton Leithauser just sounds a hell of a lot like Julian Casablancas). Pitchfork once described them as “Pavement meets U2 in a sexy Gap commercial drenched with bratmosphere,” which kind of maybe makes sense, I guess. Their most recent effort is Lisbon, a tribute to the city of the same name, but also be sure to cop 2004’s Bows + Arrows—it’s seriously grand, compelling and loud and elegant all at the same time.
So there’s your alliterative Spring Fling 2011! Opening for the three acts, as always, will be a student band selected at next month’s Battle of the Bands (April 8, Eclectic). If your band is interested in performing, send two songs to wessocialcommittee(at)gmail(dot)com by April 2. Scroll on for some video previews, and, in the spirit of last year’s announcement, on-the-spot Gchat analyses with fellow Wesleyingers A-Batte and Carlo.
- Carlo: skateboards! whoo!
- Zach: such hipstamatic cinematography.
Zach: these guys are really, really california.
- Zach: but really catchy.
- Carlo: this is post-breakingdownonstage?
- Zach: I think so.
- Zach: “King of the Beach” was a comeback, sort of, and definitely the most accessible one.
- Zach: skateboards + fuzzy visuals + alien is a pretty good visual representation of their aesthetic.
- Carlo: Yeah, i remember that it didn’t sound as fuzzy/lo-fi as their older albums
- A-Batte: This color palette is like my phone camera.
- Zach: and the sonic depth is like my walkie talkie, but that’s kinda why it works.
- A-Batte: Let’s be real: you’re clearly jealous of the facial hair in this video.
- Carlo: the westco kids’ll love this fo sho
- Zach: petition to get the alien to play with Wavves at Fling?
- A-Batte: I’m down.
A-Batte: What a culturally sensitive, yet immensely popular extraterrestrial!
A-Batte: Somehow, I feel like that last scene was photoshopped.
- Carlo: it’s really interesting to me how the frontguy (was his name Nathan?) attained his alt celeb status thru acting like a 14 year old boy
- Carlo: not that that’s entirely a bad thing
- Carlo: think wesleyan kids could cause another band meltdown?
- Carlo: Choice youtube comment: “over 500 views way to mainstream for me?”
- Zach :Maybe not another breakdown
- Zach: but hopefully a comment as hilariously dumb as Big Boi’s “Hey this is my first time in Connecticut!”
- Zach: My fave comment:
- Zach: “hell nah they? had better came last in the woodys this suks, but i have yet to try acid. an not going to weed all week yae on the week day”
- Carlo: Yeah, definitely feel like in terms of how they’ll fit into the spring fling atmosphere it’s something like black lips : dirty projectors :: wavves :: walkmen
- Zach: It’s a progression from sloppy & loud to more nuanced and textur-y.
- Carlo: Whoops, my second “::” should be a “:” SAT analogy section fail.
- Zach: This is from back in ’04.
- Zach: but it’s a fantastic song.
- Carlo: I’ve really only listened to their album last year, and outside of that, this song.
- Zach: Unlike other two acts, there’s clearly not much theatricality or visual excitement in their act.
- Zach: Just good fucking rock.
- Carlo: Not sure how popular they really are, but they’re usu. recommended if you like the national, and those guys are incredibly popular.
- Zach: Rocks a lot harder than the National.
Zach: not as mopey.
- Zach: Plus, the guy sounds so much like the Julian Casablancas from Strokes.
- Carlo: Definitely. there’s as much sentimentality but it’s expressed in a really different way
- Carlo: (as much as the national, i mean)
- Carlo: Also, the production’s really good imo
- Zach: Uh huh.
- Zach: Loud, textured, precise, but still really immediate and hard-hitting.
- Carlo: Relevant and contemporary, yet something you’d still buy for your dad.
- Zach: My dad would be like “This is interesting, thanks!”, then put Moody Blues back on.
- Carlo: My dad would be “thanks, I really appreciate this!” and go back to not having watched the season of It’s Always Sunny I bought him like a year ago.
- Carlo: I think putting them in the middle is a good idea, they’re the most inoffensive of the three acts, sorta.
- Carlo: the way he talks is almost alarmingly infectious – after listening to him talk it’s hard not to start every sentence with “ayo” and punctuate with “nahmean”
- Zach: I know.
- A-Batte: I know this song. Hopefully it’s not the censored version.
- Zach: Uh, might be.
- Zach: This is from his 2006 album “Fishscale.”
- Zach: which is my fave of his that I’ve heard.
- A-Batte: Same.
- Zach: “You’s a bird, you know that!”
- A-Batte: you don’t get “your man” back like that?
- Zach: CENSORED
- A-Batte: It’s ok, we’ll just chalk the real lyrics on Foss when he shows up.
- Zach: Definitely a break from the more sprawling, wtf-is-he-saying Ghost rhymes.
- Zach: Far cry from “36 Chambers.”
- A-Batte: Not gonna lie – really impressed by Ghostface’s hat selection.
- A-Batte: Not so impressed with this rampant disregard for private property.
- A-Batte: Oh, they’re running a marathon?
- A-Batte: Seems a little impractical in jeans and winter jackets.
- Carlo: It’s cool that we got 2 members of the clan who’ve been especially prolific – ghostface and raekwon had really good mixtapes out this year, and only built 4 cuban linx 2 should be required listening
- Zach: Right, and GZA came in ’08, yeah?
- Zach: Were you around for that?
- Carlo: Hmm, yeah. that was my freshman year. i think RZA was there too. kinda hazy.
- Carlo: Course, not cause I was drinking or Smoking Drugs or anything. I was a freshman.
- Zach: Was it a good show?
- Zach: “Liquid Swords” is still my fave Wu-Tang solo album.
- Zach: Though I can’t really imagine the “his brain was infected by devils” bit going over well on FossHill.
- Carlo: Yeah. I’m pretty sure he performed Liquid Swords in its entirety
- Zach: Damn.
- Zach: Who opened that year?
- Carlo: I remember seeing The Hold Steady, not sure if they opened. They were drunker than the crowd.
- Zach: SHOCKER.
- Zach: They were especially buzz-worthy that year.
- Carlo: Yeah, love them