Bands Other Than Radiohead That Should Play at Occupy Wall Street

10/03/2011 4:10 PM |

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  • Carwil Bjork-James for theatlantic.com

A particularly cynical and particularly mean practical joke was played on Occupy Wall Street protesters last Friday when someone impersonating one of Radiohead’s managers emailed protest organizers to tell them that the band would show up to play a brief gig in support of the movement that afternoon. Radiohead then had to get all embarrassed and apologetic via Twitter, and fans had to trudge home with heavy hearts, unless those fans stuck around and got arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge the following day. But in the face of derisive media obstacles and pepper spray, the protesters have shown admirable resilience, so here’s a list of five bands and tunes we think should play at the Occupy Wall Street protests, for realsies.

1) Regina Spektor—”The Ghost of Corporate Future”

Children of workaholic, absentee parents—get out your hankies now. This one goes right up there with Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” on the list of songs to make you cry about rosy family relationships deferred by the greedy corporate/finance machine. Regina Spektor is also, as we all know, one singularly awesome New York chanteuse, and is no stranger to supporting social justice (I swooned when I saw her at this year’s Pride). If these lyrics aren’t enough to get someone to look away from the stock ticker, I’m not sure what is:

“Imagine you go away
On a business trip one day
And when you come back home,
Your children have grown
And you never made your wife moan.”

2) David Bazan—”Wolves At The Door”

David Bazan has a reputation for being an anti-establishment muckraker in music, and his 2011 album, Strange Negotiations, proved nothing less. His lyrics on the this track imply direction toward a Tea Party-ish type rather than a Wall Streeter, but those “wolves” who “took your money” seem like a clear metaphor for the suits. (This acoustic Sleepover Show version is pretty neat too.)

3) Handsome Furs — “Serve the People”

Alexei Perry and Dan Boeckner, the husband-wife duo that make up the Handsome Furs, wrote “Serve the People” about the organized theft perpetrated by oppressive political regimes in Southeast Asia, but the message applies to the good ‘ol US of A. The chorus, “You don’t serve the people!” and the line “All the privileged thieves gonna make things run,” seem pretty apt right about now.

4) St. Vincent — “Strange Mercy”

Personally, I would love to see Annie Clark chew out a cop (the Pepper Spray one, specifically) on behalf of the protesters. On “Strange Mercy” she sings, “If I ever meet that dirty policeman who roughed you up/No I don’t know what/If I ever meet that dirty policeman who roughed you up.”

5) Screaming Females — “A New Kid”

The Wall Street establishment may not exactly be the “new” elite on the street, but maybe we can call the die-hard neoliberalism of the past few decades a recent development, history-wise. This image would be terrifying and appropriate to sing to daily commuters trying to ignore what’s going on:

“If I invite you over
Can you look me in the eye
Because your head is a cavern
And I wanna crawl inside
I put some speakers in your ears
And I stuff up where you speak
You gotta whole lotta nerve to think
That you can fool me.”

The song’s also a little reminiscent of Bikini Kill’s 1996 “Reject All American,” which would make another excellent protest song.

5 Comment

  • The movement is gaining momentum in its THIRD week now and Occupations are popping up all over the country! Stand up together and use your voice to give to those without through peace and solidarity. Tax the rich and feed the poor- you are the 99%! See my Occupy Wall Street painting and Anonymous homage on my artist

  • I doubt it was a “cynical and particularly mean practical joke.” Much more likely it was an effort to generate publicity and get people down there, which worked out extremely well.

  • The idiots down there are eating at the Mcdonalds and they claim to hate corporations…..McDonalds is a CORPORATION. Hypocrisy.

  • It has nothing to do with hating corporations.

    Firstly it has everything to do with corporations which pollute the government with money for favors, we’ll give your campaign 2 million if you pass a law so we can drill in this national park.

    Secondly it has to do with what corporations do with the money they make. Do you think that when a corporation makes 100billion in profit it gives everyone a fair raise? Do you think they really care when they lay off 1000 people to save 50 million dollars, then give the CEO a 10% raise from 20 million to 22 million? Corporations are top heavy, they shift all the jobs to areas with cheap labour then they give all the upper management bonuses for the larger profit margin.

    These are just a few of the things that have people upset.

  • Steve Earle would be about the most appropriate choice I can imagine, even if he ain’t a hipster band. He’d resonate with the most folks there.