Our Rock and Roll Fantasy

Cristy and William
Performed at WRFU Tower Benefit. Mike ‘N’ Molly’s, Champaign IL. 16 May 2009.

W: Our first set was poetry written about work. This second set is poetry written at work. But not at our current jobs. At our previous jobs. We would never slack off at our current jobs.

C: This is called “It’s all Part of Cristy and William’s Rock and Roll Fantasy.”

W: In choosing our opening act, we need to discover an up-and-coming band. And lend them our credibility. They should reflect and bolster our aesthetic without quite living up to or exceeding our own talents. I’m thinking sort of a Beefheart and Sebastian. Melodic Avant-Garage Pop.

C: Death Cab for Fleet Foxes.
My Morning Shins.
White Keys Black Stripes.
Depeche Ferdinand.
They'll be the kind of band who has a two-paragraph writeup in Paste.
Accompanied by a small photo of them frowning against a wilderness backdrop.

W: One of them in red plaid flannel lumberjack chic, another with a skinny tie and horn-rimmed glasses.

C: And a girl in granny clothes.

W: They’re touring to promote their new concept album, which is one long song with different parts with long subtitles and Roman numerals.

C: Wait. That sounds like the Decemberists!

W: Shhh. Well, we don't want them to be too unique or they might overshadow us.
They need to be totally original, but in a predictable way.

C: The Decemberists would totally overshadow us.
Let's dial it back.

W: Definitely.
Their new concept album is called, um, Because We Believe This Is Not Awkward

W: The band is called, um, Microcosm Lobster Boy

C: No.

W: Mood Landing

C: Those are too glam.

W: Yeah. They’re more prog-emo.

C: It's something fey, like We Are the Sea.

W: We Are the Sea was featured in the Believer Music Issue, on the mix CD (penultimate track), with a song called... Misogyny and Corsets (a mini-opera)

C: Featuring The Horse's Tale, Midnight Lantern Song, and Milk for Drucilla.

W: And the Jester’s Progress. With lower case Roman numerals this time, because it is a mini-opera. They are cute, in a non-threatening way, more Matt and Kim than Sting.
They have about twenty instruments, including vintage guitars and plastic toys

C: Maybe we should get to OUR band now.

W: Okay. Go.

C: So. We're not superstars. Who wants to be superstars? There's nowhere to go but down once you've gotten to the top. I mean, look at the Beatles. Well, wait. The Beatles are still hot. Look at Madonna. Well, that's not a good example, either. Look at Motley Crue and Poison! In the late '80s, they were all that. Now they're a bunch of has-beens and reality TV stars. No thanks!

W: We're true to our fan base, who made us what we are. We are conscientious twitterers.

C: The media consider us a "cult" band.

W: In some quarters, we are still "indy." But we have officially graduated to "alternative."

C: Chuck Klosterman and Rob Sheffield ADORE us.

W: Wait, are we talking about our synth pop band, our roots music band, our punk band, or which? Or can we just be "proto"? Proto-some form of rock that doesn't exist yet?

C: We’re so Proto.

W: Or is that our band name AND genre?

C:That would be cool, but Proto sounds too much like Toto.

W: So what are we called? Are we Histrionic Diva? Sugar buzz? Angry Candy? Lost Caboose? Humble Beginnings? Dirty Hippie? Candygram? Lunge Chunk? Fat Pants? Dumb Angel? Fake English Accent? Blank Stare? Upchuck 20? Xs For Eyes?

C: Xs for Eyes!

W: What’s the name of the album we’re touring? Or is it "eponymous"?

C: The first album is eponymous, with crude cover art. We released it on our own label Invertebrate Records.

W: Is this our "sophomore effort"?

C: No, people have too many expectations for a sophomore effort. Sophomore efforts are ALWAYS disappointing. This is our third. And it got 9.9 stars in Pitchfork, .2 higher than Arcade Fire’s funeral.

W: We’re touring Unattended Bags and Suspicious Behavior, on the Dirty Clown label.
Just to be rebellious, we decided this album is unavailable on CD. LP, cassette, 8-track, and MP3 download.

C: Our sophomore effort - the album Flippant - was our only major label release and it is widely regarded as a disaster. Liam Gallagher produced it and it was the worst experience of our lives. You can read all about our frustrations with the industry on our blog.

W: We never play any songs off our sophomore effort. But we still listen to Oasis. The good stuff. We don’t hold a grudge.

C: Radiohead love us. Thom Yorke mentioned us in his Rolling Stone interview.

W: When we were in London, Thom Yorke took us out on his yacht to drink champagne and talk about socialist politics.

C: When Bono spoke disparagingly of us in Spin - saying we hadn't "paid our dues" - our sales went through the roof. Dirty Clown Records had to rent a second garage to handle the business.

W: Peter Buck loves us. Michael Stipe hates us.

C: Billy Corgan hates us. Aimee Mann loves us.

W: It’s all mutual

C: We don't give many interviews.

W: A drunken Devendra Barnhart got on stage with us in New York to shake an egg along with our college radio hit "Easily Upset." Are we "media darlings"?

C: Not really, I'd say cult darlings.

W: Are we the “it” band?

C: No.

W: We’re not sell-outs.

C: No. One of our songs is on a Mac commercial. But we did it to pay off our student loans.

W: Our song is played over the closing credits to the quirky comedy movie “Parker's Top Ten Ex-boyfriends Mixtape.”

C: Starring Michael Cera. Directed by Zooey Deschanel. Produced by Chloe Sevigny. Drew Barrymore has a cameo. At the premiere we were photographed in the box seat with Diablo Cody.

W: That song is our unreleased single “Sauce.” It doesn’t even appear on the soundtrack album because the producer fell in love with it at the last minute and fought with the studio to get it into the film.

C: But we don't care if people download it for free.

W: Now, at the end of a long tour, we're giving our final sold-out show at Mike and Molly's, for our loyal local fan base. For our concert, Cristy is on drums, and assorted percussion such as pots and pans, cardboard boxes, and washboard.

C: Ew, no. I hate washboard. Too rustic.

W: Cowbell?

C: Mmmmm. No. My set is basic. I'm the female KEITH MOON!

W: Okay. Clear away all the Bill Bruford stuff left over from the artsy opening band.
No garbage. Just drums. I'll be the shy front-man, like Matthew Friedberger, on guitar and sometimes keyboards.

C: Yeah, but you have a New Wave vibe. Like David Byrne.

W: I wear a tie.

C: Or Bryan Ferry.

W: No glasses, though. That's too 2008. Plus that's your look.

C: I have a mermaid tattoo on my bicep, which is ripped from banging the drums.

W: I have no tattoos, piercings, facial hair, or accessories of any kind. I am devoid of style I wear a white button-down shirt, black slacks, and a tie. I look like a new wave bible salesman. Perfectly bland. Inscrutable. Like the Talking Heads circa 1977 only less preppy.

Our set opens with an unexpected twist that makes the crowd happy...

C: A cover of "Substitute"?

W: Nah. We do only one cover, for our third encore, and it's a bad old song that we infuse with new hipness, such that after the concert everybody stumbles away drunkenly singing it. Something like Hall and Oates. “Maneater.”

C; Okay, so let's open our show by bringing in Jack White as a special guest on guitar!

W: Is this when you come out from behind the drums to sing a song? Or do you save that until later?

C: Or...have Paul Weller from the Jam sit in with us!

W: That's better. Jack White is too obvious.

C: I sing one song in the middle of the show. That's it. I’m an enigma.

W: So... Lights up. Out walks Paul Weller. Followed by us. And we rip into our outre classic "Dirty Jelly." It’s not an official release; it appears only on a benefit CD for a Siamese cat Rescue Society. But our fans all know it.

C: An unusually subdued Jeff Tweedy sits on a stool on the edge of the stage, coming to the mike only to play a respectful harmonica solo.

W: When Cristy sings HER song, I play the drums. But I use brushes and play with the utmost restraint, mostly hi-hat. Peter Holsapple walks out to play Keyboards. THAT song -- “Satellites Around My Head” we released as a single posing as a band called “Zach’s Psychedelic Complaint.” But our fans discovered it was us. Although only 100 copies were pressed (on paisley vinyl) the MP3 has become ubiquitous. For another song, Cristy will strap on her pink left-handed Hofner bass, and John French comes out of the audience to take the drums. The three members of the crowd who recognize him as the drummer for the Magic Band go apeshit. We play our avant-funk B-Side "freakilicious."

C: I'd say leave it to three guests: Paul Weller, Peter Holsapple, and John French. Any more would be Okkervill, I mean overkill.

W: All three guests are unannounced surprise guests who have come out to Mike and Molly’s to celebrate Cristy's birthday (on this day of record warm temperatures for January, we play in the beer garden).

C: Jeff Tweedy doesn't count. He's just a sideman. He is totally overshadowed by us and has no cred whatsoever. His appearance here is an acknowledgement of the new era in midwestern rock. We respect him. But he ’s not invited to the after-party.

W: The crowd is packed together, swaying, eyes closed. Hipster guys with facial hair, glasses, and plaid J.C. Penny shirts push close to the stage to hold up their cellphones to record Cristy's image. No stagediving. Everything is peaceful.

C: Fans sing along to every song. Every song, that is, except for the three new songs we debut. They were written on tour. The playful "Bananagram," the hard-core "Instruments of Destruction" (I break a drum stick hammering out this tour-de-force but I always have extra tucked in my legwarmers), and William’s solo acoustic ballad "Bad Cat," which was written for our cat Luna when we were beside ourselves with homesick grief.

W: As we play, we see the guys who book shows for the Canopy Club and Highdive walking by outside. They have nothing to do. In their clubs D.J.s are spinning to an empty house. They refuse to look into the beer garden.

C: All proceeds go to WRFU. We have a standing offer of a free bottle of Three Floyds to anybody who can name the track listing of the British release of Revolver. The bottle goes uncollected.



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