LET US NOW PRAISE THE CLUB: Pleasurable shocks of recognition and solidarity accompanied my read of last week’s Independent cover story, D.J. Palladino‘s paean to the wonders of the semi-secret cultural treasury of indie rock-and its kinfolk, indie pop and indie folk. I, too, have drunk the Indie Kool-Aid, am a better person for it, and am beyond the age of 25. (Next year, I will have chalked up as many years on the planet as there are cards in a deck, although, conversely and perversely, each year makes me feel lighter, as if playing with less and less of a full deck.)
One serious omission in D.J.’s account, though, was a proper acknowledgment of a remarkable and possibly revolutionary local forum for this music-the phenom known as Club Mercy. Crazed music fan and enlightened promoter, humble, hirsute Jeffrey Shuman has run Club Mercy for a few years now, ushering significant indie shows into various venues-mostly SOhO, Velvet Jones, Muddy Waters, and the Mercury Lounge.
Of late, Club Mercy has been going nuts, in the best way, bringing to our little town the likes of pumpkin-smashing Billy Corgan (in the compact, and totally packed, Muddy Waters last Thursday), Built to Spill, and ace boot-gazer/Fleet Fox drummer J. Tillman, Blitzen Trapper (a few times), Devendra Banhart, the bird and the bee, Jens Lekman, and, to cite two of this year’s most bodacious recent rock shows (sez this columnist), the Meat Puppets and the mandible-droppingly amazing Deerhoof.
More than its ancestor the rock scene, which has traditionally been greased by the corporate wheels of marketing machinery and hype, the indie rock scene tends to rise, fall, and simmer via a blissfully organic process. Word of mouth and word of mouse, the blogosphere, and other means beyond the control of corporate goons are the favored means of communication. The cultural landscape is constantly shifting, and this year’s hotlist is next year’s veteran list. This revolution will, generally, not be televised, so hearing the stuff takes work. Outlets include college radio, on your terrestrial radio, and streaming on your computer (including the miraculous KCSB-check the necessarily varied, checkerboard schedule), and even, believe it or not, the AOL Radio indie rock channel.