Who are you kidding?

Published

Benzo Harris

… receives a lesson in indie from Black Kids’ lead, Reggie Youngblood

It has been a little over a year since Black Kids played the Athens pop festival, their first gig outside of their hometown in Jacksonville, Florida. Since then things have been skyrocketing ever upwards for the band, and already it’s a case of business as usual.

After the Pop Festival, Black Kids have been all the rage. Pretty much every music mag in the business was singing the praises of their EP, Wizard of Ahhhs, which they released for free on MySpace. Reggie Youngblood, lead vox and guitar, doesn’t chalk it all up to the Internet though:

“Yeah, I think the Internet’s overrated,” Youngblood sighs, as if he’s been swatting away questions like this all day. “We had songs on the Internet before Athens [pop festival], so we had to physically go places. The Internet is a tool, but people are still the most important thing.”

But enough of this, I’m curious about the music. All these indie bands sound the same today, as if they were trying to be Talking Heads — that is, if Talking Heads were a low quality, generic pop band. With overdone synths, and airy, warped vocals, I ask Youngblood for his take on this:

“It could be because most of us grew up in the 80s, and we were cognizant of the music,” he says. But he’s not sure: “That might be it, that kind of feel. Most of us never thought that indie equates to ‘good,’ and mainstream equates to ‘bad’ – we’re not really averse to most pop music.”

The show itself is disappointing. I asked Youngblood why he thought Black Kids were getting to be so popular — was it just luck that their generic 80s-style indie-pop was in vogue at the moment and people were catching on, or did they bring something special to the show?

Youngblood mumbled something about how “we do a fun show,” but I’m not buying it. He sang the praises of good indie to me, extolling the virtues of that raw sound making people get up and dance — how “people love watching four to five dudes on stage making it happen.”

Well, Black Kids didn’t make it happen. Youngblood, to his credit, at least seemed to jump around a little, sometimes on the cusp of getting into the groove. Aside from that, nobody else up there even came close; Dawn Watley (vox and keys) was trying to do the whole Tina Weymouth kinda-cute-but-rockin’-awkward-bassist thing, but she ended up looking like an uncoordinated poseur who couldn’t hit the right notes most of the time.

As the set went on, song after song, people still weren’t going wild – Youngblood kept imploring the masses “can we please have a party here? It’s Sunday night!” I caught more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice when he muttered “I think we’ve been here five times this year. It gets better every time.”

Who cares if the press say they’re a band to watch? How much of a big deal is it that we have another 80s indie-pop wannabe on our hands, who’s getting a little radio play from the internet – an outlet that the front man of the band deems overrated? Fittingly, as I stand watching, I notice the largely unresponsive crowd, taking more photos of the ABC’s vast disco ball than of the band they’ve paid to see.