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Generation You Tube


With the release of the debut album “Does you inspire you”, the electronic pop band Chairlift embarked on their first European tour this winter. Like many successful new bands their popularity was cultivated on the Internet but a brief encounter with one of the band members in the real world left me feeling cold and confused.

As with many of the 80s pop revivalist bands coming out of Brooklyn and LA, Chairlift have amassed a huge following on both MySpace and YouTube giving them massive Trans-Atlantic recognition, most notably for their song “Bruises” recently used in the new Ipod Nano advert.  In fact it is on their MySpace page, that their songs are best heard in all their over produced glory. Indeed other than Ariel Pink’s “Are you going to look after my boys (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N6EecRJu60) Chairlift’s “Planet Earth” and “Evident Utensil” are two of the most sleazy and seductive pop songs I’ve heard all year.  Like Ariel Pink, Chairlift’s synthetic sensibilities are brought to life online with their kitsch  DIY videos and decadent sounding productions.  So with this in mind I jumped at the chance to see them live in London.

On arriving at Madam JoJo’s I caught a glance of Patrick Wimberly, the bands drummer, and with a deluded notion of post pop hospitality I approached him for a chat. Unfortunately I only managed one considerably weak question before he walked away; “What’s it been like playing to British Audiences for the first time?” to which he responded nonchalantly “British audience have been the worst on tour”. I was about to see first hand why their audiences weren’t responding and it wasn’t British cynicism that was responsible.

To call their gig a let down would be an understatement, after acclimatising to their online personas I never imagined that a live translation could be so bad. The sound was what can only be described as arid, lacking any sole whatsoever, their Synthetic sounding records didn’t lend them selves well to a live setting, and essentially the whole thing felt diluted. I wanted to be engaged; instead I was left daydreaming of the live footage I’d seen of Public Image’s “Careering” and New Orders first performance in New York in 1981. I wanted to go home.  Generation You Tube who had turned out to the gig on masse were not satiated and you could feel it in the air, by the last song the band almost ran off stage.

Although my expectations had been lowered by this experience I found my self back on you tube the same night listening to Chairlift, and they sounded perfect. It dawned on me that bands like them, and many others of the home-grown 80s revivalism scene, should stay within the confines of the Internet or the studio.  Some things, like a David Lynch weather report, just belong on the Internet. The potency of the web as means of presenting music is in its ability to provide direct access to new material at anytime, so for bands who’s sound has been strongly cultivated online often the transition to a live performance is detrimental.

Daniel Tapper

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