Talking with Oxford Collapse after an incendiary show last night at the Locomotiv Club in Bologna, Italy, a funny thing came to light: This band doesn’t really like new music.
Obviously, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But as drummer Dan Fetherston told me, “Yeah, we heard the new Fleet Foxes album. We listened to the first half ’cause somebody gave it to us, but we got bored. I’d rather listen to Crosby, Stills and Nash, you know?” After a thirty-minute discussion of R.E.M., Bruce Springsteen, and Mike Watt, I, perfectly pleased if a bit incredulous, asked, “So do you guys listen to any current bands?” The three-piece scrounged out a laconic list of albums, almost all by bands they have toured with. But it’s Appetite for Destruction that Fetherston “could talk for a day about.” Arcade Fire, meanwhile, is “a perfect example of a band that Oxford Collapse couldn’t care less about.” Bassist Adam Rizer said with a wistful laugh, "You can't control when you're born." (The encasing on their time capsule isn’t entirely sound, though: I did catch Fetherston singing, “You don’t have to go to collllllege,” to himself on the dressing room couch.)
This all made a lot of sense in light of the evening’s concert, a brimming show that painted last year’s BITS in a flattering new light. Onstage, the post-punk thrash and deliberately off-key vocals took on a sense of true abandon. There was none of that feeling of art for art’s sake that can be infuriating about this band, so often the subject of crude comparisons to groups like Liars and Animal Collective but unequipped to handle them. Last night was 1981, it was hot with the rhapsodic harmonies of Rizer and guitarist Michael Pace, it was the snare pounds of “The Birthday Wars” that threw at least the four Americans standing just beneath the stage into a whipping, whirling furor (the rest of the crowd proved dishearteningly reserved).
If this band is more concerned with Nebraska than Illinois, so be it. And if they’re in town, go see them—despite how you may feel about the records.
- Click here to see the music video for "The Birthday Wars." Actually, just see it live.