Sunday, November 21, 2010
An Evening with The Raincoats at the Museum of Modern Art (setlist + videos)
(Photo by Pier Harrison)
Last night, too broke for the subway, I walked 60 blocks from Soho to Midtown, past Fifth Avenue's lit-up Rolex and Hollister shops, to watch one of the most influential post-punk bands of all time, The Raincoats, perform at the Museum of Modern Art. If you're unaware of the influence exerted by the late-70s femme-punks, they inspired both early Riot Grrrl bands and Kurt Cobain. (See below.)
"You wouldn't believe we've been playing these instruments for 30 years!" joked guitarist Gina Birch, before jumping into a new song. "But we like to keep it real." The between-tracks banter was met with roars from the multigenerational crowd. "We still haven't reached that pinnacle where you have someone else tune your guitars and hand them to you," Birch said. "But we're very DIY, you know."
Highlights (see videos, below) included "Fairytale in a Supermarket" and a new track, where Birch sings, "When you ask me if I'm a feminist, I say why the hell would I not be." Another highlight came at the end, when Kathleen Hanna joined the band for an early Slits cover ("Vindictive") in honor of Ari Up; the band taped pictures of Ari to their mic stands. The sold-out show packed much of the Museum's sleek ground level, plus the entire staircase to the second floor. The few truly mind-blowing "Oh-my-god-this-is-real" moments were very in line with the mecca-like vibe of Corin Tucker's recent Bowery Ballroom show.
Kathleen Hanna DJ-ed prior to the band's one-hour 10 p.m. set. Raincoats fans watched her bop her ponytailed head along to M.I.A. and other dubby dance picks — of course interspersed with dark post-punk and no wave-y riot grrrl — as she sifted through her bright red 7-inch box and cued tracks up in her massive white headphones. Attendees (Hanna wannabes, grown-up-punx, artsy Moma people) sipped on free wine and beer, and the exhibit "Pictures of Women: A History of Modern Photography" was on display, a selection of photographs featuring "influential women artists."
Check out my FlipCam footage after the jump; more legit footage, via MoMa's Pop Rally site, will be available here. The Raincoats played All Tomorrow's Parties in Minehead earlier this year, and will, apparently, be playing more in 2011.
Below: The Raincoats play a new song. "In the scheme of 30-odd years it's pretty new. You wouldn't believe we've been playing these instruments for 30 years! But we like to keep it real.
"I don't really know anything about The Raincoats except that they recorded some music that has affected me so much that, whenever I hear it I'm reminded of a particular time in my life when I was (shall we say) extremely unhappy, lonely, and bored. If it weren't for the luxury of putting that scratchy copy of The Raincoats' first record, I would have had very few moments of peace. I suppose I could have researched a bit of history about the band but I feel it's more important to delineated the way I feel and how they sound.
When I listen to The Raincoats I feel as if I'm a stowaway in an attic, violating and in the dark. Rather than listening to them I feel like I'm listening in on them. We're together in the same old house and I have to be completely still or they will hear me spying from above and, if I get caught - everything will be ruined because it's their thing."
-- Kurt Cobain, June 1993, liner notes to The Raincoats debut album CD reissue
Above: The Raincoats cover The Slits with Kathleen Hanna.
Below: The Raincoats close their set with "Fairytale in the Supermarket"
"Among the legions of first wave DIY innovators and wannabe-iconoclasts who arose in the wake of punk, it's perhaps the humble Raincoats, and their recently reissued debut, that best embody what post-punk could and should mean...Yet as Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon acknowledges in the liner notes she wrote...they were a band of ordinary people who, lacking the trappings and poses of many of their peers, created something extraordinary."
-- The Quietus, 2009