Doing Your Own Thing Is Indie | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Doing Your Own Thing Is Indie

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Hi Miles,

My name is Abraham Levitan, and I play in Baby Teeth. I've been a big fan of the column since you took it over. I think you've paid increasing attention to the bigger issues of indie culture and music economics, rather than just profiling the "band of the week" and that's good.

So I wanted to write to you about the Pitchfork piece you wrote ["Indie Rock's Not Dead," July 20], since it didn't ring true. I think that you correctly identified one of the big downsides of Pitchfork culture: the idea that, because the tent is now so wide, everything can potentially smack of tokenism.

True enough. But then you went on to praise Clipse and Of Montreal, while slagging off Malkmus.

OK, I didn't see Clipse (missed Saturday due to a Baby Teeth show in Madison), but it seems like their "thug-posturing" is the work of an act that knows full well that they're indie-rock tokens, and doing everything possible to pander to their audience, to the point of turning the whole affair into a modern-day minstrel show. Similarly, Of Montreal (whose new record I think is absolutely brilliant) didn't trust their own material to hold up live, and instead watered down the depressive lyrics with a tawdry stage show that, again, spoke to their fear of getting consumed by a "too-much-too-quick" cultural shift.

Malkmus, to me, seemed confident. Sure, the set was rickety as hell, but he was content to come up and do his thing, with little regard for what demographic he was addressing or what impression he was leaving. Say what you will, but that kind of independence and spontaneity were hard to find at the festival, and I certainly hope they're not relics of a forgotten era, as indie culture slides into bleak professionalism.

OK, thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Abraham Levitan

Baby Teeth

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