a few words about a live clip featuring the beets
Well, I stumbled across it somehow, I'm not sure how, and I watched it, and I had one of those experiences you have sometimes with a band you've never heard playing a song you don't know. One of those transformative reaffirming experiences, which you then get religious about, even if religious isn't exactly the word you'd use but trust me it's the word you actually mean: you start thinking, everything should be like this all the time, anything that's not like this is a ridiculous waste of time, I want peak experiences and only peak experiences because life is all about peak experiences and people who consent to have less than constant peaking epiphanies all the time are missing out, etc., etc., all infantile nonsense of course but as feelings go a bracing & pleasant one. The permanent reoccurring 19th summer is a nonstarter as a governing aesthetic stance, but as a tool in the kit it's not without some merits. I have a lot to say about this, actually, but it's complicated, and hurtful to people whose 19th summer left such a profound impression on them that they think it's the meaning of life or something, so, you know, whatever. It doesn't matter much except when it does.
So, anyway, I stumbled across it, "it" being a song by the Beets, who as they say in the clip are a band from Jackson Heights, which was refreshing, and I listened to it, and it just charmed the shit out of me. Not in the cloying sense of "charm" either - think maybe about how a good luck charm would work if it actually worked, just making stuff go right that you might otherwise have expected not to go well at all. Hey, I'm broke! Hey wait some guy just gave me money, awesome! That kind of charm. Or maybe like the kind of charm you'd have picked up in charm school, if you'd gone there, which you didn't, me neither, we are by and large a charmless bunch now, all of us, down across several generations, and it sucks, but what can you do. We're not immune to being charmed, anyway, and maybe we're more vulnerable to it, which would be an unforeseen side benefit of charmlessness. Now we know it when we see it, and it's doubly great because we hardly ever see it at all.
The song, and especially this performance of it, are, let me be clear about this even though clarity in talking about music is totally not my schtick at all any more, flat-out stunning. I researched the Beets further and got their album, and I like the Beets, and I like their album, but the clip remains the thing that they have done to which I can't compare much. Their album I can compare to the Oh Sees, and I can do so favorably, which means it's good, since the Oh Sees are good. There is, however, let's be honest, no shortage of bands who can be compared to the Oh Sees. I dig the style but there's plenty of it around. The live clip, though, which is probably a concession of some sort - spur of the moment, sound limitations, can't use amps in this room, whatever - is a different and shocking thing in the world; it has a quietly awesome power and isn't making much of an effort to assert itself. It just sits there being better than other stuff. Which is what I want now. In a sense, this unpretentious there-ness makes the Beets here come off like a cuddlier Shellac, who work a comparable Gospel of Self-Evidence. Did this clip have a press blast sent out twice a day via email to everybody? Maybe, probably, I don't know, but by the time I saw it, it was just something hanging around, ready to be ignored, preemptively ready to be ignored, even. It's like a good plumber: you didn't catch his last name and you'll forget he was even at your house by this time tomorrow, but if he hadn't been there, you'd be up to your neck in your own shit, which is, I think, what I am trying to say. That without this clip of the Beets in your life, you are drowning, drowning forever in a river of your own excrement. Not in any way that might seem heroic or tuff or remarkable. Just unpleasantly.
Last Plane to Jakarta hereby encourages the Beets to save us all from such nasty-ass scenarios by recording an entire album in this style. You don't have to write new songs if you don't have the time or something. Just re-do Spit in the Face of People Who Don't Want to Be Cool in front of a single camera, and upload the whole thing someplace, and ask for a donation. And I will donate. Because your songs are awesome, and so is your sound, but the sound gets a little in the way of the songs sometimes and that's a shame, because when the song is allowed to just naturally arise in unison from you all - to wit, the damn clip already - it becomes a radiant source of self-regenerating power and wonder and lights start to go off in corners of the room where a guy didn't know there were actually any lights, and the guy goes, wow, this is so cool, I didn't expect to run across anything this cool today and I'm so glad I did, I'd really love to run across more things like this during my daily walk down toward the grave.
The lyrics are great, too.
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