Last Saturday night, I caught a perfectly fantastic screening of Milos Forman’s early Czech film Loves of a Blonde at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and then had some wonderful barbecue at Smoke Joint. And then, quicker than you can say “white guy funk band,” my evening totally turned to shit. Upon returning to BAM to check out a free concert by White Rabbits, who I’ve heard great things about, I was faced with perhaps the most distasteful band I’ve had to see live in years.

They are called Miss Fairchild, and they are a bunch of guys from Brooklyn playing blue-eyed funk. Now, I’m as open-minded as the next girl, and I don’t think it’s impossible for white dudes to write some good songs in the genre. But this was so derivative as to actually be kind of racist. Their lead singer was a small, bearded guy in some vintage polyester. He was doing a calculated impression of James Brown. The lyrics and music were total ’70s cliches. And it was all kind of a shame, as the guy has a decent voice, a ton of energy, and the band is clearly quite competent. The only problem was… there was not an ounce of originality there. They may as well have been a cover band.

Now, it isn’t my policy to knock new, untested bands just for the hell of it. But what I see here is just another corollary to the growing trend of cultural tourism-as-music. In a way, it’s exactly like what Vampire Weekend is doing: steal some sort of music that you have no personal link to and repackage it without adding anything new. It seems soulless and boring, and frankly it’s annoying that people are so into these copies of copies of copies when there are a million great innovators out there.

What I’m trying to say is…

One, two, three, four, I declare a CULTURE WAR.

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