I know I made a joke about this in the last issue, but during a show at this year’s South By Southwest festival, the beloved “outsider artist” Daniel Johnston made some strange, blatantly anti-Semitic jokes, and eventually flashed the Nazi salute before shouting, “Heil Hitler!” It sparked a good bit of debate on the music blogs, and for good reason. Now that he has two area shows scheduled in the coming weeks, we’re forced to think about what exactly we’re doing when we pay to see him live. Johnston’s battles with depression have been well documented, and it’s been noted that in order for him to tour, to give the best performance he possibly can, he stops taking the medicine that usually keeps his illness in check. So you’re getting an artist that’s very much at the end of his rope — you know that going in, and it’s what’s always made him such a magnetic, endearing figure. But when things turn hateful like they did in Texas, it starts to feel wrong — like watching You Tube videos of 3-year-olds saying “fuck.” I’m not looking to start any sort of free speech debate, because obviously that’s not the issue. But here’s a guy we all care about, a guy we admire as one of the most outstanding artists of our lifetime. Shouldn’t someone be telling him that the things he’s saying are irresponsible and dangerous? Since it doesn’t seem like anyone else around him cares enough, perhaps it’s up to us.
On a lighter note:
5/11 John Darniele at Sound Fix
Go watch as the Mountain Goat himself plays a set at Williamsburg’s best record store. It marks the re-opening of the Sound Fix Café, too, which sounds nice, doesn’t it?
5/13 Mother’s Day at, um, your Mom’s house
Please don’t be a jerk. Call your mother and thank her for sticking by you even though you’re a hopeless fuck-up.
5/20 Kyp Malone Cake Shop
The TV on the Radio guitarist plays a solo set to what will be a huge, sweaty crowd. Get there early.