Way back in October, Pitchfork handed Jacksonville 5-piece Black Kids debut EP Wizard of Ahhhs a rating of 8.4. With that sort of numerical approval and comparisons to Arcade Fire and classic Motown, the hype exploded all over the blogs. Wizard of Ahhhs was
available for free download, so anyone with any shred of interest
downloaded it. During 2007’s CMJ Marathon, they were one of the most talked about
bands, getting attention from NY Times. In May, the young band sold out a headlining gig at Bowery Ballroom, despite having yet to release a full length album. NY Times was there again to sing more praise.
Then, on July 22, 2008, Pitchfork, who was the most influential piece
in building the band up, began the process of tearing them down. Pitchfork’s review of Black Kids new album Partie Tramatic
was baffling. Rated with a 3.3, there was no long hyper-pretentious
review, just an odd photo of 2 cute pugs with the word "sorry." This
isn’t Pitchfork’s first silly non-review. The publication’s review of Jet’s "Shine On"
will forever be remembered by Pitchfork loyals, and was oddly enough a
good summary of the music despite the lack of words. Pitchfork’s Black
Kids review makes much less sense. We all understand that a 3.3 is a
bad rating, but what do the cute dogs represent?
Maybe it’s a metaphor to the innocence of Black Kids. Maybe Pitchfork
feels bad about trashing them. And how different is the album from the
EP that Pitchfork initially praised? Not very, especially since the
album contains all 4 songs from the EP.
Black Kids are the perfect example of a terrible trend in the music
world. They were built up too fast. Just like Vampire Weekend, Black
Kids saw a rapid rise in popularity and then began to see a backlash
before they ever even released a full length album. Unlike Black Kids,
Vampire Weekend’s full length debut got high praise from Pitchfork,
which seemed to lift them over the first hurdle in the backlash.
These bands aren’t having to work for their success like most bands do.
Headlining Bowery Ballroom used to be a really large step for indie
bands, and still is for some. So, of course these inexperienced bands
without extensive catalogs are going to be a bit disappointing. Hence
Black Kids played Santos Party House last night. Andrew WK’s new venue
was jam-packed, with Black Kids hype selling out another show. The poppy
indie-dance act was good, and was able to get the crowd dancing, but
could not possibly live up to the level they’ve been built up to. The
best of their songs "Hit the Heartbreaks" and "I’m Not Gonna Teach Your
Boyfriend How To Dance With You" are undeniably catchy and make for
solid dance floor anthems, but this band should not be a headliner yet.
They should be opening for Hot Chip, Justice, and other more
experienced floor-shakers. In a few years, Black Kids will likely have
written a few more good songs and will have developed their stage
presence. Then, when they come to NYC to headline Bowery Ballroom,
it’ll be a bit more deserved. But, they’ll probably be at Terminal 5
instead, and I’ll be writing about how it’s too soon.
Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, who opened for Black Kids, seems to
following that same path of overwhelming hype. The 24 year old from
Brooklyn recently landed on the cover of Fader, and the music blogs have been
going wild singing his praise. Of course once a music blog like
BrooklynVegan or Stereogum starts talking about someone, it’s natural
for everyone else to follow, and everyone wants to be ahead of the
curve, but it’s getting out of control. Like Black Kids, MBAR was good
and had his moments despite weak sound, but he didn’t blow my mind. He
wasn’t the next David Bowie or Lou Reed, but he’s got loads of potential,
and would be worth checking out, especially at a small venue like
Zebulon. Just don’t let the hype fool you.
While Mr WK does a good job of making sure his patrons have a fun
time and party hard, he isn’t fond of us taking pictures of all that