Wednesday night with Harlem.

In a Pitchfork review last month of Hippies, the Matador debut by Austin three-piece Harlem, writer David Bevan notes, "You might say they rub some people the wrong way." I guess you could say I used to be one of those people. It wasn't anything in particular about the band's music, which struck me as reasonably OK scuzzed-out rock'n'roll. Just call it the Harlem Shakes rule: When an otherwise harmless, presumably non-black band names itself after a famous African-American neighborhood, I sort of preemptively get annoyed with them for trying to shock me or whatever. I want to ignore them, to avoid giving them the satisfaction. Is that weird?

I know there is something evil under your pretty face.

The thing with Harlem, though-- as multiple listens to Hippies quickly reveal-- is they're actually pretty skilled purveyors of noisy, catchy, Nuggets-y um nuggets. If you like bands like the Black Lips or the Smith-Westerns, and I do, it's pretty hard to imagine you not liking these guys, too. I remember not really feeling "Friendly Ghost" when I first heard it, but unlike a lot of other bands working in this sort of lo-fi garage-rock space, Harlem make sure their songs are as hummable as they are rickety-sounding. So by the zillionth time I checked out the song, I had all but forgotten initially making fun of something or other about its lyrics, and I just wanted to shout along. See also: "Be Your Baby," "Gay Human Bones," etc.

Wednesday night at the Vaudeville Mews, Harlem maybe weren't the tightest of all bands-- a couple of visits to the bar may have had something to do with that, and who could blame them?-- but they put on a really fun show. I know that's not some kind of deep insight or anything, but that's all I've got for now. The rock show was awesome. The Vaudeville Mews was a genie in a bottle, and this time, Harlem rubbed people the right way. (If you're still with me after that horrendous sentence, then please come back anytime, dudes.)

Rock'n'roll rock'n'roll rock'n'roll rock'n'roll.

Locals the Jitz opened, their bassist bare-chested, and put on a typically rousing set of good-times cars/girls/rock'n'roll rock'n'roll. Thanks for playing "Ingersoll Booze" as requested, fellas.

Other upcoming Des Moines shows, basically just reprised from my last post, after the jump.

 Oh, also some guy fell asleep and
everybody got their picture taken
with him. Happy Cinco De Mayo!

- Aquaserge (ex- Stereolab, Acid Mothers Temple), Casper and the Cookies, The Huxley Maxwell Exit, Pink Kodiak, Rhonda is a Dead Bitch at Vaudeville Mews May 7
- Leslie & the Badgers, Ferrably Lionheart, Monday Mourners at Vaudeville Mews May 9
- Des Moines Social Club's Subjective Circus: Christopher the Conquered May 15
- Baroness at Vaudeville Mews May 17
- Shearing Pinx (w/ Nu Sensai) at Vaudeville Mews May 17
- MONO w/ the Twilight Sad at Vaudeville Mews May 18
- Mark Mallman w/ Why Make Clocks at Vaudeville Mews May 19

- Mark Mallman, JOOKABOX, Yourself and the Air, Thomas Oldham at Vaudeville Mews May 19 (two shows)
- Crystal City Record Release Party (w/ Derek Lambert, Gabe Cordova, the River Monks) at Vaudeville Mews May 21 (5 p.m.)
- Maxila Blue's Record Release Party at Vaudeville Mews May 21
- Dan Bern May 22
- Love of Everything (member of Make Believe, Joan of Arc), Sudden & Subtle, Gabe Cordova at Vaudeville Mews May 24
- Bodeans at Nitefall on the River May 27
- Pocahaunted (with the Jitz, Land of Blood and Sunshine) at Vaudeville Mews June 4 (early show before this also includes locals Nuclear Rodeo, New Bodies, and Last Call Casualties opening for pop-punks the Forecast)
- Damien Jurado at Vaudeville Mews June 6

- Mini Mansions (member of Queens of the Stone Age), Superchief, Mason Cain, Mumfords at Vaudeville Mews June 8
- Pearly Gate Music at Vaudeville Mews June 9
- Wheels on Fire, Coyote Slingshot, The Seed of Something at Vaudeville Mews June 9
- So Much Fun, Chatty Cathys, The Seed of Something, E.V.O. at Vaudeville Mews June 16
- The Melvins at House of Bricks June 27
- 80/35 Festival July 3-July 4: MODEST MOUSE, SPOON, many more
- Old 97's at Nitefall on the River July 22
- Black Mountain July 26
- Phoenix at 7 Flags Event Center, Aug. 10
- Keith Urban at Iowa State Fair Aug. 13
- Pat Benatar w/ REO Speedwagon at Iowa State Fair Aug. 17
- Darius Rucker at Iowa State Fair Aug. 19
- Sugarland at Iowa State Fair Aug. 21
- Sheryl Crow at Iowa State Fair Aug. 22 


  1. I should note it has since come to attention that, unbeknownst to me at the time, a few people actually thought Harlem were drunk and rude. However, I know the people who talked to the guy who made the tweet linked above, and they thought the music itself was good. And they weren't there for Dum Dum Girls, so...

  2. "I sort of preemptively get annoyed with them for trying to shock me or whatever. I want to ignore them, to avoid giving them the satisfaction. Is that weird?"

    Ha! Not at all. In fact, I can recall a similar experience on my end. The combination of the band's name and the first album "Free Drugs ;D" Rubbed me wrong in every which way.

    Not only that, but while initially checking out the leak of "Hippies" earlier this past semester, I wasn't too thrilled with their lyrical prowess.. "Stay up late, Ren & Stimpy"

    My opinion was turned around with repeated listens, though. I really enjoy listening to Spray Paint, Faces, Poolside, and my favorite, Scare You. Once those hooks latched into me I haven't attempted pulling them out.