Oh Man, Get Ready to Cringe Your Way Through The Dismemberment Plan’s Fallon Performance

01/21/2011 1:01 PM |

When I first heard that 90s D.C. band The Dismemberment Plan was doing the whole reunion thing, I was briefly excited—there was a period of a year or so when I was pretty into them. For whatever reason, though, the only record of theirs I ever really gave much of a shit about was their last one, Change, which I guess is not considered their best. That honor goes instead to Emergency & I, which was just reissued and given a hysterical perfect score of 10. I don’t know the album all that well, but I’ve gathered that a select group of people have a very intense connection to it. After watching this performance of the much-adored track “The City” on Fallon last night, it seems even more unlikely than before that I will ever share that connection.

I never got a chance to see the band live, which suddenly seems very important, and I’ve never even watched videos of them on YouTube, come to think of it, so I was a bit taken aback by, I’m sorry, the sheer dorkiness of the whole thing. As I started listening to their records a bit more over the past few weeks and months, I started to backtrack on initial feeling that they’d aged well, as I started to notice this really irritating, really embarrassing Dave Matthews thing happening that I’d somehow missed all those years ago. It is, sadly, even more prevalent in a live setting—the wide-eyedness of it all, the dancing, the smiling. It’s just… it’s a lot. Maybe this was common knowledge all along, and people just loved them for it, but I find myself desperately wanting to look away.

10 Comment

  • The Dismemberment Plan is a stunningly good live act (and Emergency & I is a stunningly good record; the second half of it, in particular, is as excellent a run of songs as I’ve ever heard) (also, wasn’t it given a 10.0 or very, very close to it when it first came out, too?). Apart from being technically impressive — their rhythm section is excellent, and seeing them was probably the first time I ever noticed a drummer in a live band being completely awesome — they’re just crazy fun and energetic. There is a kind of dorkiness, I guess, in Travis Morrison’s spazzy-soulful-white-guy shtick. When he solo-covered that Ludacris song a bunch of years ago, yeah, I can see how that’s sort of cringeworthy (although technically speaking, he does a pretty excellent job keeping up with it, vocally). But in his element in this band, yeah, people love them for it, because it’s engaging, how delighted he seems to be performing. Are bands not supposed to smile and dance anymore because Dave Matthews does something like that?

  • I don’t get this band and their cult, even a little bit.

  • Oh, Jesse. We’re not all enemies of “fun,” we swear. I do, however find this hard to take. (Mike and I are just bullies who hate nerds. Obvs.)

  • JD, you don’t come off as an enemy of in-quotes-to-make-it-sound-extra-stupid-“fun” so much as an adamant disliker of any disagreement with anything an L-mag writer says (and I say this as a totally disagreeable L-mag writer!).

    I don’t think there’s anything I said implying that not liking the Plan is some kind of cruel, bullying, anti-nerd invective (and that’s a weirdly defensive bit of sarcasm). Though maybe I’m implying that saying “I find this hard to take” or “the wide-eyedness of it all” or “ugh, this is embarrassing”… is not the most incisive criticism I’ve ever heard.

  • @Jesse

    Insofar as I’m glad I’m not a film critic who has to explain why The Big Lebowski wasn’t all that funny (yes, that again), I’m really glad I don’t have to explain why the above clip was, in fact, cringeworthy. As ever, I will leave the last word to you…

  • It must be a real bummer for you to be employed, at least partially, by a publication you hold in such low esteem, and whose writers so consistently fail to live up to your standards of good writing, which as far as I can tell involve having the exact same opinion as you on all matters. Some day very soon, I hope you’ll be able to drop us.

  • Actually, I know it may be difficult to reconcile with my wretched habit of sometimes posting a comment on a blog saying that I disagree with something, but there are tons of L pieces, especially in the actual magazine but also on the blog, that are really interesting and smart and well-written. (I have occasionally posted comments to this effect, but they don’t seem very interesting or useful, saying “hey, this is a really interesting point!” over and over.) If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t read you all pretty consistently.

    So the bummer has more to do with how if I comment expressing my disagreement with something (which — get this — often involves the belief that the author is wrong! Which I guess is totally rude! But to me doesn’t seem like that big of a deal!), you guys tend to read it as “fuck you, Conklin, you untalented hack! Agree with me!” I’m genuinely sorry if it comes across that way. A post like the one above seems like an invitation to discussion/dissension. I don’t think my comment was out of line. I was actually interested in such a strong reaction against the band and would’ve liked more specifics about it.

    Diamond’s pre-emptive “go ahead with the last word,” which I’ve seen busted out on all kinds of threads, suggests to me flat-out irritation with anything but the most deferential of arguments. Conklin thinks that I just hate any opinion that differs from my own, but Diamond is basically saying: this opinion is beyond reproach and if you say anything further, you are a jerk.

  • D Plan are law. Conklin is crime!

  • How dare a band look like they are having fun on national television! The audacity of looking normal, uncool even, and the disturbing smell of comradery.

    I would of been OK with a comment on the bands sound, but you chose to go with their dorky looks and dance style. It’s rock and roll, the music matters, but I find your commentary depressing. Then again, this band comes from an era where indi-music was judged by the music, and not the cut of the jeans.

    This Jesse guy, kinda had your back. His comment was pretty neutral, and the Luda cover was definitely cringe worthy. Awesome, but cringing was allowed.
    Also “spazzy-soulful-white-guy shtick” a much better way to describe Morison than a comparison to Dave Mathews.

  • “How dare a band look like they are having fun on national television! The audacity of looking normal, uncool even, and the disturbing smell of comradery [sic].”


    But, didn’t you get the memo? You know, the one about being aloof, detached, vaguely rude and dismissive is the true mark of an artist worthy of devotion. No?