Saturday, April 12, 2008

Don't Need to Have An Offensive Band Name to Make It Disappear

In the Times' concert listings yesterday, Pissed Jeans, the raucous Sub Pop group, gets a nice write-up, with a star denoting their show last night at the Knitting Factory was "highly recommended." But why is the band's name written as "****** Jeans"? Is there really anything vulgar about the phrase? Obviously, it's not desired and no one attempts to piss his own jeans, but no one even purposefully pisses his own jeans to be provocative and/or controversial, right? Does the band play shows with pissed jeans, artificial or natural, and the Times wants to shield its genteel readers from the possibility of seeing that? Either way, playing a show with pissed jeans would be distractingly impressive, both for the crowd and them. And wouldn't it be better for the Times to spell out the name so the genteel readers with an inkling of heading to Leonard Street would be forewarned? (They were in town tonight, but I am tired and lame and didn't go see them -- not that their sound is quite my thing -- so I can't answer.)

Again, why would the Times feel the need to censor "Pissed Jeans"? No one under 16 years old reads the "Concert Listings," and if they did, they would find it funny, not offensive. (You could also argue no one under 16 years old reads the Times, or no one under 35 years old [except me] reads the print version.) Their parents wouldn't care, would they? It's not like this band's name is anywhere close to "Pussy Galore." Insert parent's shocked gasp here.

Even odder is the actual write-up from critic and "Listings" writer extraordinaire, Ben Sisario: "There has never been enough vaudeville in punk, but its best performers, like Iggy Pop and David Yow of the Jesus Lizard, have developed frightening and irresistibly entertaining stage personas based on lunging physicality and a constant threat of danger. ****** Jeans' Matt Korvette is a worthy successor, contorting himself and making sour-grapes faces while his band plays dark, grungy blues-punk that comes down from the Stooges and the Dicks. With AIDS Wolf."

So, let's get this straight: "Pissed Jeans" isn't OK, but "the Dicks" is just ducky? And whoever named AIDS Wolf should be kicked out of the band, unless somehow that draws attention to charity. (Checking the band's Web site and...nope, what a surprise, no charity, but there is the promise of lots of artistic noise, and amid the band's "principles," the promise to "Allow for Sonic Fields of Nothing.") Obviously, I'm square and "AIDS Wolf" should not be edited out by the Times either, but doesn't that strike anyone else as an oddly unsettling band name?

Thanks to Pissed Jeans for the inspiration for the post's title.

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