More photos from this show can be seen at the bottom of the post.
Shall we agree that the simple act of pairing the adjective "independent" to the noun "music" did signify, once upon a time, our righteous disavowal of wicked Big Music and all her sinister A&R retinue? Shall we say that it used to be so much more real and so much more independent, this indie rock music, back when it was truly about doing it yourself? No, we shan't. We shan't say that at all. "Independent music." Ha! Such fancies as these betray only the epithetical gravity of noblesse oblige. "Shall we say pistols at dawn?"
Sonority, persistence, irony, cool shoes, handkerchiefs, Woody Allen look-alikes and other such schmegeges, aesthetes, mustaches and starving yourself are all well and good for the indie scene, it's true. But what I'm trying to say, besides "pistols at dawn" as many times as possible, is that our beloved Mission Independencia wouldn't exist if not for Padre's love; Dad busies himself about the commodification of something wholly, this way his boys can play vintage Gibson guitars and record their very own canciones with the help of a very expensive program like Pro Tools, which, according to some very specious studies, has been shown to encourage mustache growth among wealthy males who play music to benefit a beloved, soon to be remembered, middle class. Who is independent of what?
But what if, charities notwithstanding, you cannot grow a mustache? What if you're just too young for the politics of sexy disguise?
Enter Chris Chu, The Morning Benders' frontboyman . . . tall enough to ride on the indie coaster at the cool park with the big kids but too young to star in a soft porn, at least that's what it seems like though I got to the show a bit late and never got a chance to ask him his age because I'm irresponsible. If I weren't such an indolent, flat-assed sophomore I'd find out how old he is right now, actually. But I'm lazy and it's cool because I assure you he's a boyish dude with a boyish voice and boyish charm who can't yet grow a mustache. This, along with the fact that he lights up the stage, is all you really need to know.
He runs all over indie like his name was Nascar, all surly-like, and cocksure; a naughty, sports-and-wine grin he wears over an untucked oxford; shining in his youth, his better pedigree, and his honest to goodness rock and roll entitlement, it's as if he's saying to you, "I am hereby entitled to sleep with your 16-year-old daughter after cooling a bunch of left turns around the stage," or is it right turns? Right turns or left turns? I always forget.
The point: I saw the Morning Benders play to a bunch of investment bankers, lawyers, bloggers, grad students at 330 Ritch last weekend. That their music is widely understood as belonging to the "indie" class should tell you plenty about their popwashed sound. Nor is frequent comparison to high-profile, very "independent" acts in any way harmfulâ€”acts like The Shins or Built to Spill Death Cab; and while there certainly was some amount of homage, reprise, and/or mimicry going on at the show, there was also something fresh and new, yes, a new and fresh and pink blue hope for equestrian candor.
I caught just the last half hour. I don't think there's another indie band out there that can do it for me in just a half hour. But then I don't think of The Dodos as an indie band, either.
As these Morning Benders prepare to breathe a bit of youthful chivalry into a subgenre that's only too well read and suffers, too, from a variety of NIMBY-democratic conceits, I'm busy reflecting on their rich, tightly performed, and mostly danceable tunes. Let these young men give it a new name. It's time. Join "rich" to "music" and suffer your confusion no longer. They're too young to have read all that much. This is rich music they're making right now, straight outta Berkeley, bud.
They're touring the country right now but you should like to see the Morning Benders when they get back to town.
Check out photos from the show taken by Muhammad Asranur: