Music | Indy Week
Music
INDY Week's music blog

Archives | RSS

Thursday, March 26, 2015

"We care about the human race": An interview with Black Pussy

Posted by on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 2:02 PM

PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTHERN CROSS PR
  • Photo Courtesy of Southern Cross PR
As a black woman who spent a large part of my young life in the mostly white world of rock music, I attended shows up and down the East Coast, threw gigs in my garage and even started a group of online friends with the purpose of uniting black hipster weirdos like myself. I never really felt like an outsider in the world of rock. But I have had a few reminders that rock ’n’ roll wasn’t always welcoming to the people of color who pioneered it.

Enter Black Pussy, the Portland, Oregon, rock band whose controversial name led Raleigh's The Pour House to cancel an upcoming show amid threats of violence. The show has been rescheduled tonight for the nearby dive bar Slim's. In advance of the set, I had the chance to speak to Black Pussy.

"Brown Sugar," the infamous Rolling Stones song, was written by Mick Jagger and  inspired by Claudia Lennear. The song was originally called "Black Pussy," but label concerns led to the song's title being changed. Black Pussy’s label, Made in China, states, “For Dustin Hill, the creative mastermind and songwriter behind Black Pussy, it sounded like a fantastic band name.”

But he tells me a different story. He says the name appeared from the meditation of an early writing session years ago: "It just came pure as a child," he says. He understands that it is an uncomfortable phrase and owns up to the fact that it might be hard for people to handle. But he stands by his vision, admitting he is a '70s child and that Black Pussy is a sincere attempt to recreate the sexy golden haze of stoner rock.

Still, for a band claiming to be rooted in nostalgia and peace, their Facebook page makes it seem like they are reveling in the publicity, reposting sensational articles written about the band name from all parts of the world. Comments are filled with general words of encouragement like “Rock on!” and “Keep grooving."

I have stumbled upon a striking similarity: white voices defending the band's rights to expression and freedom. I haven’t read a single comment from another black voice defending them. In the debates sparked by Black Pussy, I have seen many musicians say “It’s just a name” or “It’s just music." OK, but you can give up music any day. When you wake up a black woman, you have to live daily with every negative thing that comes with it. I am down, then, for the Facebook and Twitter revolutions that might help create comfortable spaces for us to exist without feeling fetishized and objectified.

But I do feel bad for Dustin Hill, the stoner dreamer who doesn’t seem to understand why some people won’t stop talking about the name of his band unless he changes it. 

INDY WEEK
:
Tell me how Black Pussy started.

DUSTIN HILL: It started about eight years ago. I was just writing a bunch of songs. For the first album, I went into the studio and basically did it by myself. We started touring hard three years ago with this lineup, and we really felt what we are doing now. The people that are participating are the best example of what it is, of the art.

Now that you have a full band, is it everybody contributing, or is it still just you and they just fill in on tour?

RYAN MCINTYRE:
Sometimes, we put our little signatures on it. You have to liven it up. 

DH:
I write all the songs, and everyone does their dance.

I’ve read the origins of the name are from the Rolling Stones song “Brown Sugar.”

DH:
I’m going to set the record straight because it's been taken out of context in interviews. Where the name comes from, it came from me. I am the responsible party, and everybody in the band is taking on the responsibility with me. As a songwriter, as a creative artist, I always start in kind of a meditative state. With myself being in a meditative state, all the things come to me—you know the drums, the guitars, the keys, the vocals. That’s how I work as a creative person. I was writing these songs, and it was actually a very dark time in my life. I just lost a 10-year relationship with a woman. I just lost a 14-year relationship with a music partner.

A band ended in a crazy way. I thought I was quitting music for the first time. I was so heartbroken and disenchanted about life and art. It was a very heavy time. But also all these songs started coming to me after I had sold all my gear. I started writing these songs and said, “You know, if I was going to be in a band, I would do these songs.”

I’m from the ’70s, and I have a huge attachment to the ’70s—all the television shows and all the music. I started embracing my childhood in this rebirth of mine. I said, “Well, if I want to have a project name, I want it to be sexy and ’70s.” That was in my mind! And I started meditating on it and all of a sudden those two words came to me, and it came in a very pure way, like it just came to you. There were no thoughts connected to it. It just came pure as a child, no thoughts connected to it. But 30 seconds afterwards, it’s all hitting me—what is this? These are intense words and ambiguous words simultaneously. It's heavy. This is a child coming out of these ideas.

Being responsible, I researched these words. I looked up the meaning of these words and the first thing when I looked up the word black, it never mentions race or people. It mentions the color of the universe, the color of the night sky. It mentions evil. It mentions sadness. When I looked up the word pussy, the first thing it said was cat, and it also meant rabid. And then it said the vulgar use of the word, which, you know, I knew. I’m not stupid. I know what these words mean.

But I researched it intensely and then, in my mind, these two words are so ambiguous it was amazing. But again I’m not a stupid person, so I know how people would take it. I researched the two words together, which was complicated because when you put those two words together you are mostly finding porn. I put a lot of time into it. This is all happening within an hour of the birth. I am on a creative high researching this.

When I didn’t see it as a band name, I was blown away that nobody had ever utilized this. Then I discovered the Rolling Stones' “Brown Sugar,” so I started reading about that. I started reading lyrics and what people were saying. I read that it’s a satire song, and in the end, it was an anti-racist racist song. I was like, "I can’t believe I put those two words together." I like art that is ambiguous. And it also had this positive meaning of genocide, rape, slavery, racism. They were connected to that song, and I just thought, “This is beautiful."

RM: At first you’re not sure because you have to own it. You can’t be afraid to say it. You can’t be afraid to say it to your grandmother. There is a funny taboo in our culture with saying it, and breaking taboo is important. And the intention behind the music we are doing is positive, you know, in embracing the taboo of that being a negative thing. Our intention is positive.

How do you separate the positive vibes you guys want to spread as a band with the criticism the name has generated?

RM: We are not here to censor anybody, and it can create a discussion online. People have all different kinds of views. Some of them are negative. Some of them are positive, everything in between. A lot of times ideas become bigger than the people participating in them, i.e. us in the band. We are very, very positive, loving, caring people, but everybody has a right to say whatever the fuck they want to. We are not going to try to manipulate that discussion.

DH: People say a lot of bad shit about us. The only thing I delete on our page is porn.

Where do you see Black Pussy in a year or so? 

RM:
We have a CD coming out in July, and we have songs for three more records right now. There’s no shortage of material. It’s just about finding the time to put it down and present it.

DH: We'll definitely be making our way to Europe. People have been asking us to come for a couple years now, but we haven't gone because I am very particular as a creative person. I basically want things the way I want them. It would be great to bring this really special gear. We care about everything at the highest way we can. All of our gear is from 1968 to 1971. With bringing all this to Europe, there is a lot of logistics involved.

We are so into this idea of positivity. We tune to 432 Hz, which is a spiritual tuning versus your standard 440 Hz. We put a lot of time into spreading positive energy, like true energy. I was researching 432 Hz, and not a lot of bands do it. It is complicated to do all these tunings, but we have done it. That’s because we care about the human race. When you research 432 Hz versus 440 Hz, you can see the people that didn’t care about the human race and wanted to hurt the human race. So we embrace really helping the human race just by our tuning, and that’s a big deal, right?
  • Pin It
    Breniecia Reuben talks to Black Pussy about band name backlash and ... a guitar tuning that will save humanity?

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Live: The music of Boulez, in real life

Posted by on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 12:06 PM

PHOTO BY FRANK ALEXANDER RUMMELE
  • Photo by Frank Alexander Rummele
Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich play Boulez
Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill
Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Pierre Boulez turns 90 Thursday, March 26. During his decades, he has demanded a great deal from both performers and audience. His musical vision is as uncompromising as his notes are challenging to play. Consequently, his music doesn’t get performed all that often, even as his 90th approaches. While our classical institutions seem to celebrate every round-numbered anniversary of the birth and death of most every major composers, very few American ensembles dare to tackle Boulez’s music, even now.

The Triangle could count itself lucky, then, to be one of only four stops in the U.S. on Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich’s tour of the complete Boulez solo piano music, alongside Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Emil Kang and Carolina Performing Arts deserve praise for taking a risk on such a daring program. Even though Memorial Hall was less than half full (with even fewer sticking around after intermission), those there witnessed a remarkable evening.

Continue reading…

  • Pin It
    A rare concert of Pierre Boulez's music in Chapel Hill advocates for the music.

Tags: , , , , ,

Durham poet Dasan Ahanu named Harvard fellow

Posted by on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 11:25 AM

PHOTO COURTESY OF DASAN AHANU
  • Photo courtesy of Dasan Ahanu
For the third time in recent years, Harvard University has selected another leader from the Triangle’s arts and academic community for the school’s hip-hop mission. On Monday, area poet Dasan Ahanu announced he had been chosen as the 2015–2016 recipient of the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship at Harvard. The nine-month fellowship at Harvard’s Hip-Hop Archives Institute and W.E.B Du Bois Research Institute grants scholars and artists an opportunity to prepare an academic year’s worth of research for a project that contributes to “hip-hop and the discourse.”

“I’m going to be studying and analyzing lyricism in hip-hop,” says Ahanu. “I’ll be identifying lyricists and looking at what is distinct about them and their songwriting styles and the types of songs they make.”

Ahanu, or Chris Massenburg, has long been one of the Triangle’s busiest poets. Complementing an already-full schedule as a performer, writer and recording artist, he coaches the award-winning Bull City Slam Team, hosts the weekly City Soul Cafe poetry open mic in Raleigh, teaches a creative writing course at St. Augustine’s University, and unrelatedly, coaches the Blue Star Carolina Girls basketball team.

Although The Hiphop Archive & Research Institute granted fellowships in the past, it wasn’t until July 2013 when the school named the fellowship for legendary lyricist Nasir Jones. Ahanu points to that reason—along with the opportunity to work under one of the world’s most preeminent scholars on African-American history, Henry “Skip” Louis Gates—as to why he wanted the fellowship.

“As someone who lives with words, I was like ‘Aw, man, I would love to be able to contribute to that,’” Ahanau says.

Before the fellowship took its current name, Duke University professor of African-American studies and cultural critic Mark Anthony Neal and Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder were also selected as fellows at The Hip-Hop Archive & Research Institute. Last year, the film The Hip-Hop Fellow, which chronicled 9th Wonder’s tenure at Harvard, made its world premiere at Durham’s annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

“I really want it to be an inspiration for folks to start to really think about all the different ways in which they can use their talents instead of just having their eyes set on this one narrow path, in terms of commercial success,” Ahanu says. “There are other ways to get out there and do your thing.”
  • Pin It
    Following in the footsteps of Mark Anthony Neal and 9th Wonder, Dasan Ahanu will head to Harvard.

Tags: , , , , ,

Live: At The Ritz, ego and a lack of safety combine for a Farruko failure

Posted by on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 10:55 AM

PHOTO BY AMANDA BLACK
  • Photo by Amanda Black
Farruko
The Ritz, Raleigh
Thursday, March 19, 2015

Last Thursday, a hopeful crowd of a couple hundred arrived at The Ritz for a show from up-and-coming reggaetón artist Farruko. Despite the awkward, multi-station, bracelet-donning process and overly expensive drinks, aptly described by INDY music editor Grayson Haver Currin, the mostly young crowd seemed to be in a good mood. Selfies abounded, and the margins around the checkered dance floor filled with couples and groups of friends.

The show was scheduled for 8 p.m. But as seems to be part and parcel for the reggaetón experience at The Ritz, the artist announced he would not perform until 1 a.m., perhaps due to the small crowd. The same thing happened a year and a half ago with Tego Calderón, a superstar hip-hopper who played to an even smaller crowd. But being forewarned means being forearmed, so many people, including me, did not arrive until around 10 p.m.

Although Farruko took the stage at midnight, the DJ, whose name I could never catch, had to engage with the audience for a grueling four hours. And the incredible thing was that he did, pumping up the crowd with a mix of mostly salsa and bachata, throwing in some reggaetón gems just to get the younger attendees moving. The DJ ran through the country-by-country roll call time and again, and somehow, it worked. As the stage started to be set up for Farruko's entrance, the crowd cheered and danced.

This was when the weird stuff started to happen: One of The Ritz management's main concerns seems to be security. Yellow-jacketed guards were stationed all over the premises, and people would not be readmitted if they left the concert. A mugging in the bathroom garnered a fast, organized response from the security team.

The same cannot be said for when I looked to a nearby security guard for help when a young man groped me while I was standing alone in a completely open space. There was no way to argue this had been a mistaken grab in close quarters. Within three seconds, still yelling at the perpetrator as he slipped into the crowd, I notified a tall, bespectacled guard who was standing nearby—by "notify," I mean I screamed the necessarily expletive-laden information while pointing at the back of the drive-by assgrabber who had still not made it into back into the crowd. Still, I was met with a dismissive shrug. If the management has such a strict "no readmission" policy for security's sake, each one of their guards should be at least as equally committed to a "no assault" policy. It's about safety, not policing, right?

Anyway, back to the music: Is there anything stranger than a reggaetón musician with not enough swagger? Farruko came to the stage with four dancers, all of whom were more interesting than him. He plodded through songs with little energy, stopping between some tunes and moving off stage while video clips of famous friends talked about how he was the best played on the backdrop. It was awkward.

The mellow flow Farruko has cultivated gets lost on the stage. What makes Farruko interesting on albums is his use of neat samples, a mid-range subtlety that goes missing when the bass and vocals are overemphasized live. The creepy musical saw sample for "Titerito" was inaudible. The overblown stage design and lack of interaction with the crowd did not play out well during the 45-minute set.

At some point, the audience was almost completely divided into their own circles, not paying much attention to the stage because there was so little happening. When the sing-along songs would start ("Lejos de Aquí," "Besas Tan Bien"), the audience would excitedly reply, but Farruko showed no visible excitement in their sudden engagement. Style, flow and swagger make reggaetón work; ego alone cannot carry a concert, even with a 15-foot projection of your own face behind you.

When the artist left the stage, the crowd immediately dispersed. There was no massive call for "¡Otra! ¡Otra!" Antsy and grateful smokers finally clustered under tents before running to their cars, driving off into the chilly, rainy night.

  • Pin It
    Thursday night's show in Raleigh featured an alarming lack of energy from Farruko and venue security alike.

Tags: , , , ,

Friday, March 20, 2015

Rapsody gets a bump from Kendrick Lamar, but stop with the pandering questions

Posted by on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 3:29 PM

rapsody-beautybeast2.jpg
Less than 48 hours after the release of Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore LP, To Pimp a Butterfly, interviews with the album’s only featured guest rapper—Jamla Records’ first lady, Rapsody—began popping up on big-name spots like Complex, Spin, NME and MTV. The interest in the backstory of how the Snow Hill, North Carolina native made the cut for Lamar’s buckshot-jazz critique on intraracial colorism, “Complexion (A Zulu Love),” was surprising not only in terms of major coverage for such a minor player on a mega-release but also revealing for how such outlets cover female emcees in general.

This question, for instance, from NME’s blog interview: “Do you know where Kendrick drew his inspiration and creativity from for To Pimp A Butterfly?” asked interviewer Lucy Jones, instead of asking hip-hop’s latest "'it' woman” where she gets her inspiration. Goofy questions like this tend to present Lamar as some mythical and enigmatic supernova (“What is it about Kendrick that draws people to him?”) and speak strongly to a specific gender bias in hip-hop.

Jamla’s new brand manager, Karlie Hustle, picked up on the imbalance. “Why are media outlets by/for women not covering Rapsody on the Kendrick project, but would have a 10-page thinkpiece up if he'd chosen Iggy?” she tweeted. But two days later, following the release of Rapsody’s new video for her single “The Man,” one of those outlets answered Hustle’s frustrations, though with a lack of ambition. On Jezebels pop culture subblog The Muse, writer Hillary Crosley Coker penned an encyclopedic, Pulitzer-worthy critique of the single that read, “The song is good and Rapsody's rhymes are solid.” Way to go, Hillary!

At least the knee-jerk press and hysteria surrounding TPAB may offer the perfect setup for the release of Rapsody’s new video for “The Man,” a song that appeared on last October’s Beauty and the Beast. The tune tackles the difficult issue of fatherless homes in the black community and the socio-psychological effects on the boys who oftentimes have no choice but to grow up quick and adapt to premature patriarchal roles. Rapsody’s spin on the topic highlights a lose-lose scenario, where even the most resilient, respectable and responsible young black men in these situations still have to battle profiling and police brutality. It’s a subject that has polarized the country over the past year and, coincidentally, falls in line with some of the major theme’s on Lamar’s TPAB, which Rolling Stone's Greg Tate says has “mob-deeped the new Jim Crow.”

For that reason alone, Rapsody’s “The Man” surely deserves stronger adjectives than “good” and “solid.” The rising Raleigh emcee deserves to be commended for piecing together an eight-year grind that’s put her here, unequivocally—aligned with the past year’s biggest social movements and music releases.
  • Pin It
    The Snow Hill native may have a short spotlight on Kendrick Lamar's new To Pimp a Butterfly, but she's got way more going on than her guest verse.

Tags: , , , ,

Despite delay in official announcement, several sources confirm Rolling Stones coming to Carter-Finley

Posted by on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 2:11 PM

Coming to you: The Rolling Stones - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND
  • Photo courtesy of the band
  • Coming to you: The Rolling Stones
Several high-level sources confirmed Friday afternoon that The Rolling Stones will play N.C. State University’s Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh Wednesday, July 1. Rumors of the show have been circulating for days, and the stop appears to be part of a tour that was expected to be announced yesterday, Thursday, March 19, as part of a Stones campaign dubbed #SatisfactionThursday. Billboards announcing the big reveal have shown up in cities including Milwaukee, Atlanta, Orlando and Minneapolis, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Stones have not appeared in the United States since late 2013, and they last played North Carolina in October 2005 with a show at Duke University’s Wallace Wade Stadium. Carter-Finley, meanwhile, hasn’t hosted a concert since U2’s 360° Tour stopped in Raleigh in 2009. Officials with Carter-Finley Stadium and N.C. State Athletics did not respond to immediate request for comment, but the stadium’s schedule appears to be fairly empty. Some Stones prognosticators suspect the announcement will come March 31, though others think it could come as early as today.

Better hurry, as Keith Richards isn't getting any younger. 
  • Pin It
    The British geriatrics will play the first concert in N.C. State's football stadium since 2009.

Tags: , , ,

Modernist master: Schoenberg conference honors retiring UNC Music Department professor

Posted by on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 8:27 AM

neffbook.jpg
When an eminent scholar retires, their department will often hold some kind of event—a conference, a panel discussion, so on—to celebrate their contribution to the field. And Severine Neff, the Eugene Falk Distinguished Professor of Music at UNC-Chapel Hill, is indeed a scholar worthy of celebration.

During the past 40 years, she has helped expand our understanding of Modernist music in general, Arnold Schoenberg’s music in particular. In addition to untangling the thicket of Schoenberg’s theoretical writings and shining light on the internal structures of his compositions, Neff has also worked to trace the influences on his music and his influence on composers who followed. She served as the first female editor of Music Theory Spectrum, one of the foremost music theory journals around, from 2009 to 2012. And I get the sense that her students love her, telling stories of her epic, day-long classes spent discussing various pieces of 20th century music or her leading a group to break in to one of Schoenberg’s apartments that was closed due to renovation.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Music will host a conference on Schoenberg and modernism in her honor this Saturday. Titled “Contemplating the Musical Idea,” this event will bring together many of the top scholars in the field for a day of presentations, panel discussions and performances from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in Hyde Hall. Some potential highlights: Columbia University’s Walter Frisch meditating on Schoenberg’s ultra-romantic First String Quartet; Sabine Feisst (Arizona State) tracing the effects of Schoenberg’s music around the globe; Joseph Auner (Tufts) dissecting the way that Schoenberg crafted sound; a recital of Schoenberg’s piano music by Clara Yang and Thomas Warburton (I hope they play his delightfully playful Opus 11 and 19, sets of freely atonal miniatures that sound like little else); and two group discussions from a wide range of scholars about the future of Modernist studies. It promises to be an enjoyable (and hopefully not too academic) day of celebration.

For more information and to view a complete schedule of events, check out the event page.

  • Pin It
    The day-long conference presented by UNC's music department features lectures, performances and more honoring Severine Neff's scholarly work.

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Black Pussy's Raleigh gig back on, kind of

Posted by on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 2:03 PM

PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTHERN CROSS PR
  • Photo courtesy of Southern Cross PR
The canceled Raleigh set by the controversially named Portland, Oregon stoner rock band Black Pussy is back on for the capital city, but with a new date and venue. Slim’s—located on the opposite side of the same block as the show’s original locale, The Pour House—will host the group on Thursday, March 26, one day later than the previous date.

“I find the band name stupid, and I find it offensive,” Slim’s owner Van Alston told the INDY Thursday afternoon. “But I don’t want to live in a town where threats of violence dictate who I can see and who I can’t see.”

The show is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. with no openers.

With this new booking, there’s renewed hope for the scenario I suggested Monday: That is, an embarrassingly low amount of people will show up to see the band, while a flock of protestors welcome the group to Wilmington Street.

Here’s hoping everyone keeps it clean, or as clean as you can with a name like Black Pussy.
  • Pin It
    Here we go again.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Live: Capsula's bilingual pursuit works in Raleigh

Posted by on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 10:17 AM

PHOTO BY AMANDA BLACK
  • Photo by Amanda Black
Capsula
The Pour House, Raleigh
Thursday, March 12, 2015


Last Thursday night, Argentine-Spanish rock trio Capsula took the stage at The Pour House, standing in front of an orange, black and white banner of a tiger being hunted in the woods. With Martín Guevara on guitar, Coni Duchess on bass and Iñaki Guantxe (a newer addition) on drums, Capsula have long been making their name on the American scene, playing SXSW seven times and touring constantly. The band have become known for high-energy performances of psychedelic-tinged songs, a match fitting the colors and kinetics of the background image.  

Thursday's show was no exception. Dovetailing between songs, the setlist moved from stripped-down Bowie covers (they did, after all, produce an entire cover version of Ziggy Stardust in 2012) to newer songs such as "Dark Age" and "What's in the Mirror." The audience stayed near the stage, headbanging and eventually creating a mosh pit. The mixed crowd of Spanish and English speakers was so involved in the music that the platitude of music being the "universal language" seemed, for a moment, renewed.

Then again, the singing was almost completely in English. 

In 1972, the song "Prisencolinensinainciusol" reached No. 1 on the European charts despite not being in any language at all. The swinging pop tune of Italian singer Adriano Calentano features gibberish lyrics made to sound like American English. Novelty songs aside, the massive influence of American popular music has led musicians, fans, and critics alike to ponder the question: Are some languages better for certain types of pop music than others?

In a conversation on Thursday, Martín Guevara made a strong case for the artist ultimately deciding these matters. "Our first two albums were completely in Spanish. After that, we were transitioning into English. It was an artistic decision," he said. "The shorter phrases in English work for what we do."

But whether Guevara and Duchess are growling, howling or crooning in English or in Spanish during their energetic live shows, the lyrics  take a back seat to timbre, anyway. A formidable Duchess channels Exene Cervenka while effortlessly wielding her thumping bass, and Guantxe (former member of Señor No) seems to have been with the group for years, such is the consistency of his drumming. Guevara's guitar playing weaves in and out of chromatic passages while he chants haunting verses in whatever language works best for the song.

In the end, it seems, it's all about the delivery. And on Thursday, Capsula delivered.


  • Pin It
    The Argentine-Spanish band talks about why, sometimes, songs in English make more sense.

Tags: , , ,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Talking to The Pour House about its canceled Black Pussy show

Posted by on Mon, Mar 16, 2015 at 7:13 PM

PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTHERN CROSS PR
  • Photo Courtesy of Southern Cross PR
A week ago, the calls started coming for The Pour House owner Adam Lindstaedt. One after another, familiar customers, enraged civilians and even an anonymous person using voice-masking software let him know that they would never return to his club. The Pour House had offended them.

Several weeks before, he’d booked Black Pussy, a Portland, Oregon stoner rock band whose name is more provocative than its musty riffs and tepid tempos. Lindstaedt wasn’t a fan of the band and admits he didn’t ponder their name very long; he simply had an open Wednesday night, and a familiar booking agent was hoping to put a band in his Blount Street space. Lindstaedt said yes and thought little else of it.

But as Black Pussy prepared to release its Magic Mustache LP, the name began to draw distinct lines in the sands of political correctness. An interview with Portland’s Willamette Week became fodder for an amusing and rhetorical column in Australia that translated the band’s white-bro, shrug-it-off answers into commentary about privileges both white and male, artistic and middle-class. That’s about the time the calls began.

Lindstaedt quietly canceled the gig over the weekend, covering the band’s name on show calendars in advance of his St. Patrick’s festivities. But this morning, the band explained the move—their second canceled show due to their name, according to Willamette Weekthrough the website MetalSucks. The announcement has refueled last week’s local debate about who has the right to be offended by such and who, if anyone, has the right to determine that.

Personally, watching the social media tête-à-tête play out has been frustrating, as it seems a lot of people with white cocks care to decide who should or should not be bothered by the name Black Pussy. Being a member of that class myself, I find it disheartening that folks of my ilk have an opinion at all, aside from support for those who feel slighted. Black Pussy is neither a funny name nor a clever one, whether or not it is a nod to Rolling Stones arcana. There’s nothing here to defend, other than the band’s right to have that name and to suffer or enjoy the consequences—including free publicity and canceled shows—as they come.

It’s too bad that threats of violence were made, worse still that they forced Lindstaedt to can the gig. I was hoping that Black Pussy would show up, be greeted by protestors eager to speak their minds and then play to a dozen or so people too stoned to realize that this stoner rock is as fetid as old bongwater.

In the end, the band Black Pussy is mostly Balking Provocation; somehow, this incident has made them seem more significant than they are. Black Pussy are not martyrs for free speech. They are exemplars of obliviousness.

I spoke with Adam Lindstaedt about the cancelation and its consequences.

INDY: When did the threats start happening?
I came in Monday of last week and had voicemails—20 on Monday, maybe five or six of them very threatening. Physical harm was being threatened. The others were many reasonable people expressing their concerns that they’d been longtime customers, and this show was not a good idea. They urged me to think about it and change my mind on bringing the band through.

I replied to very few people, because there was so much of it, and it was so overwhelming and out of left field for me. This show’s been on the books for a couple of months now. Monday morning is usually a fairly casual morning for me, but with being bombarded and being called a “racist fuck,” I had to step back a little bit and not make any snap decisions and say the wrong thing. I just wanted to be sympathetic. I absolutely heard everybody that’s expressed concerns.

Some people said you ignored the complaints.
I was by no means ignoring it. I was just trying to make a final decision before making a statement to anybody. That’s where we are. The show’s been canceled, and I by no means meant to offend anybody or piss anyone off. I’m here to provide great music to the community I love. I present all types of music, and I may have made a mistake with going forward with this. Maybe I didn’t think about it enough, but hindsight’s 20/20. We’re going to replace the show with something else; I’m talking to Kaira Ba about possibly filling that night.

Continue reading…

  • Pin It
    Portland's Black Pussy are not martyrs for free speech; they are exemplars of obliviousness.

Tags: , ,

Calendar

Twitter Activity

Comments

You say you're not "stupid," Mr. Hill. Maybe, maybe not. But you're certainly INSENSITIVE, and you need to change the …

by Eric Mills on "We care about the human race": An interview with Black Pussy (Music)

Dustin Hill sounds like a very immature person who is empty inside. His music I'm sure only speaks to other …

by Liz Crews on "We care about the human race": An interview with Black Pussy (Music)

© 2015 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation