Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Indie Rock Throwdown: John Roderick vs. The Hold Steady

As I'm sure many of our readers know, Bonnaroo took place this last weekend in the sweltering heat of Manchester, TN. The lineup was as diverse as ever and featured some notable acts including the recently reunited Police (!) and by most accounts went down rather well. While none of the Rockists themselves went, we were able to keep up with the action via friends, family, and fellow bloggers. While these reviews tended to focus on good times and good vibes, there was at least one attendee who was not afraid to throw down the gauntlet. MSNBC contributor and Rockist in Residence, John Roderick of the Long Winters, was live blogging the event for a feature called "Bonnaroo: Music, Heat and Craziness from Tennessee". Despite the whitebread title, the blog - as would be expected from Roderick - was informed, well-written, at times biting, and often downright hilarious. Check out this segment from his review of Widespread Panic:

If I owned a VW Bus, and my bus was having mechanical trouble, I would be so psyched to run into the guitarist of Widespread Panic out on the road. He looks like he must be the greatest VW mechanic in the known world. In fact, all the members of Widespread Panic could claim to be able to fix my bus and I would believe them, except maybe the guy who looks like a diamond merchant that plays the congas.


Unfortunately, it’s far too late, in my life and in this evening, for me to be able to get into the music of Widespread Panic. Perhaps it is that my heart does not have the spirit of love in it to connect with the music on a higher level. Perhaps it’s that I haven’t eaten enough tempeh, cumulatively. Perhaps it’s that they haven’t changed keys yet, and I’ve been watching them for a half an hour. Either way, I tried, I gave it a shot, but it was like listening to paint dry.

My whole point though, hence the title of this post, was to talk a little bit about Mr. Roderick's review of The Hold Steady. Before I do, though, let me just say that we love both The Hold Steady and The Long Winters dearly - we're not taking sides...

His review of Craig Finn and Co. do you say...less than flattering. While he acknowledged that their live shows are full of energy he goes on to say that their music is full of s**t. Wow. Way to put it out there. He continues:

But after a song and a half, I’d lost track of the number of total rip-offs in their tunes, so much so that their set played like a medley of the greatest hits of the E Street Band, Bad Company, Foreigner and Styx. As played by your uncle’s friends.

The funny thing here is not that he dislikes The Hold Steady, but rather that he condemns them for being derivative when in later posts he heaps praise on blues-rockers The White Stripes and Black Keys. Again, I love both bands, but they're as unabashedly derivative as The Hold Steady, and maybe more so. Anyway, this isn't a new argument against them - we've heard it all before. It's old news. But, this?:

I felt like I was at a dot-com Christmas party and a bunch of drunk webmasters got up on stage to jam, with the company cut-up rapping their mission-statement out of a three-ring binder. And everyone at the party said, “Whoa, those guys are actually good. They should form a band.”


Perhaps Roderick's rant was meant to be divisive and hipsterish, or maybe he does really think Craiggers and Kubs are hacks, but regardless it was a pretty entertaining read. I encourage you to check out the rest of his posts as they are equally as enjoyable.


Rob said...

I'll be the only Rockist to say this, but I enjoy WSP... bring on the patchouli.

G.H. said...

No, you don't.