Back at the beginning of the year there was some talk of maybe putting together a collaborative music blog. That never quite materialized, but in anticipation of it’s potential existence I wrote of piece of review-like music quasi-journalism. I would like to free it now from the folder on my laptop where it has been living in inhumane isolation. Some updates since this was written:
Rue has a new record coming out on October 7th called Broken Window. Hear some singles off that here: http://ruesongs.bandcamp.com.
Vic Thrill no longer plays a regular thing at Pete’s (you missed it!) But you can – and should – follow him on Twitter where he does seem to let people know where you can see his weird amazing shows.
The world continues to wait for a new Vic Thrill record.
“I am Raincloud, come drink my words.”
– Vic Thrill
Billy Campion aka Vic Thrill comes in about half an hour after his scheduled set time. My girlfriend is with me. I lured her here with promises of an interesting set and Oasis falafel sandwiches. She is already asking things like: “Do you think he remembers he has a set tonight?” Well, this is, as I understand, a weekly gig. So I imagine he does? But we wait.
It’s worth waiting for.
Campion flies in hot with a load of stuff in his arms. He comes on like a Krishna music caveman cosmopolitan genius. A swirl of deeply eclectic foot triggered backing tracks and spiritualism. Fiddles and accordions. Tabla and sitar. Sermons on music, love, and unity delivered in a voice that sounds like it’s been through some things, and inspires heavy belief in all the words coming out of it. It is mesmerizing. It is very strange. It is undeniably cool.
I’m not the first person to write about Campion. He’s been playing rock shows in NYC since I was a small child. And we could talk about his old band The Bogmen, and about the quintessential nineties rock n roll story that I’ve heard from everyone around back then. About the national exposure, the deal, the evaporation of label attention. The deflation. Disillusionment. Dissolution. That has been detailed elsewhere. And, for me, it’s a narrative that misses the most important point. Campion is not a figment of the past. He is currently, at 44, doing the most interesting work of his career.
I’ve been to two of Campion’s shows in the past few months and the experience both times feels a little like watching a weird experimental aircraft take off. There is not a lot of faith at first that this thing is going to fly. Campion shows up late, he yells at his guitar and struggles to tune it. Some of the guitars look like improbable DIY numbers. He looks older than his nearly 45 years. He rolls on the floor and screams. He fairly twitches with boil-over energy. He dances with abandon. His voice captivates, soars, and ultimately I am convinced that this man is the absolute truth. The real deal.
Please. Take a listen, download his offerings. Give him your money. Hopefully you can help inspire him to release his long promised new album, allegedly titled Bollywood Hula Bard. I really want that to be a thing.
He is at Pete’s almost every Saturday evening at 6pm.
Oasis break. If you find yourself in this stretch of North Brooklyn, and you’re not willing to hoof it over in the rain for an Oasis sandwich, then you have given up, man.
I return to Pete’s, post-falafel, still buoyed by the love-optimism absorbed during the Vic Thrill show. I pop out to the backyard to try to type some quick words into my phone about what I’d seen so far. In the rainy backyard there is only me, and a couple making out. I give them their space. I can only assume the love-vibes Vic Thrill left floating about the place had overwhelmed their sense of public decency. I get it. I forgive them. I go back inside.
I am back at Pete’s because I have set for myself an ambitious mission. I wanted to catch Vic Thrill at 6:00, and stay for Rue Snider at 11:00. Several beers later, and mission accomplished.
Rue Snider’s path is the path of folk heroism. He started playing just a few years ago and has now spent the last couple of years touring nonstop. Playing over 100 shows a year. By the time of this Pete’s homecoming, Rue has been out for four months straight. It is a level of commitment I find terrifying. And it is paying off.
Rue is increasingly a commanding presence on the stage. His songs and banter are extremely direct and unafraid. At Pete’s he takes the stage with a pedal-operated slapback on his vocal, complemented by a fair amount of processing on his guitar. It gives Rue a forceful sound. It works as a kind of subliminal counterpoint to the bluntness of his lyrics, and the straightforward realness of his delivery.
His current relentless tour is in support of his newest record, Leaving to Returning. But he also has a new single, The New New Colossus, which is one of the ballsiest numbers I can imagine doing in the kinds of places Rue often plays. But he does it anyway. Because Rue Snider, that’s why. Getting murdered by a redneck in a North Florida saloon would just cement his run towards folk heroism anyway. Godspeed Rue. Check it out for yourself and feel his bravery:
Check out the man’s tour schedule, and look out for Rue Snider wherever you are. His tour sweeps onward in an ever-widening swath. If he hasn’t been to your town yet, he will be.