Driving around my car, I'm upset with how much of a small but meagerly satisfied feeling I get when I sing along to KE$HA's "Your Love is my Drug" (who's companion video looks like a live-action Bongo ad from the '90s) or Katy Perry's "California Gurls" (also a video that is boring/appalling with many a cum reference, though the pastel colors are enticing and satisfying.) They are, after all, selling everything I find boring/irrelevant/set-back-inducing about popular music. But then I have to say, that's pop music. It's not meant to be unsettling or motivating or inspiring. Lady Gaga makes you think it is, but if you strip her down, she's just a pretty great visual artist. And if you separate her visuals from her music, the music just sounds like a shittier version of Pussy Cat Dolls.
Submitting to these songs as something that makes your ass shake as much as it can in the seat of a Subaru is what my friend Robin Edwards (of the famed Lust-Cats of the Gutters) and I concluded to be "radio submission." I'm sure its hardly a new concept, but if you listen to something enough, it will become something you like. Maybe not the way you truly like other things—like in my case, the way I have feelings for Black Flag, dieter's tea, NPR, or working out—but in a submissive, head-on-the-concrete kind of way. I have found a place in my heart for the repetitive goodness of Ray J, Teletubbies, and Shania Twain. It's not a dark place or a special place; its just something inside that says, its okay to feel a little for this shit.
But then I have the pleasure/fortune of participating in something like TITWRENCH (which went down this past weekend in Denver) and I remember why its important not to tune out. Sure, not all music and art can move you, but when it does, it reminds you why we have to be moved. To create something, to engage in something, to support something—whether its inside yourself or inside someone else—we have to have a reaction. It has to be real. Denver and its surrounding supporting cities made the three-day fest happen (again! Year two, a total success!) by the good graces of the people who care about music and art.
(photoz by Rose Latka, friends by Denver/Boulder/beyond)
Through Titwrench, the band I am lucky enough to be 1/3 of (Night of Joy) played an amazing set, dressed in one-of-a-kind apparel by our local love Baily Rose. I got to witness something I thought I would never see—a live performance by Caldera Lakes, that moved me to near tears. (And catch the interview with half of CL, Brittany Gould aka Married in Berdichev in last week's Westword.)
I freaked out when my darling Lust-Cats (Westword talked with them too!) played a set like I had never seen them play the dozens of times before—they were so fucking raw and scratched out. Hell-Kite too, with Anne-Marie's voice freaking me the fuck out with its beauty. The f-word is apparently all I have to describe how my friends' music makes me feel. But it made me feel. And it makes me feel everyday.
So, while I have to submit to the radio in my car because I don't have an iPod adapter, I will use that time to remember why I have to care. Why I have to show up. Why I have to participate in this community and the creative world at large. Because every moment of everyone's life is important, and checking out is not an option. I tried it for the last few months—not showing up and supporting and making connections and music—but I've realized that copping out isn't for me.
Thank you, Titwrench, for reminding me why I love music.