Memo to MKE–It’s OK, you don’t have to support Chester French
Fig.1: The future cast of That ’00s Show, if those ghastly fucking clothes are any indication. Which one’s Eric and Which one’s Kelso?
Milwaukeeans–as is the case with most Wisconsinites–have a tendency to collectively lose their minds whenever a local “talent” threatens to make it big and put our humble little blue-collar burg on the map. Take a look at the WAMIs–every year their choice for Artist of the Year seems like it’s determined by asking “um, well, do we have anyone who was in a lot of national magazines last year? Bon Iver? Who’s he? Feingold likes him? Yeah, OK, sure.”
Milwaukee is yet again on the precipice of going balls-out bonkers for an act completely undeserving of the attention: Chester French, who are playing Summerfest’s Miller Lite Oasis tonight. Chester French isn’t even a Wisconsin band–they got together while attending Harvard (because when you want edgy, daring and exciting new rock and roll, you look to the Ivy League–which reminds me of another aggravating buzz band that got together at a rich kids’ school: the atrocious Vampire Weekend). But that’s ok, because band member D.A. Wallach is originally from the Milwaukee metro area (I think I read somewhere that he’s from Mequon). Well, hey, that’s enough to warrant the Journal-Sentinel and Decider Milwaukee (which, full disclosure, I write for, but never about Chester Mufugging French) riding their jocks, right?
Except here’s the rub–this band is not very good. At all. In fact, based on their first single, “She Loves Everybody,” they are horrible, boring, no-good limp-dicked tripe. Let’s take a look at the video for this “She Loves Everybody” song.
Fig.2: The definition of “cute, so they’re marketable”
The song is apparently about some slut who bangs every guy she meets, but it’s dressed up in a cute, sorta-harmless “cheeky” (everyone calls this band “cheeky” and it’s hell of annoying) veneer of pseudo-sensitive male posturing. “Well she craves passion/So I use protection/I know she loves me/She loves everybody,” they croon in the song’s zoloft-haze chorus. The opening lines of the second verse expound upon why this girl thirsts for the cock: “You’re just a girl who misses your dad.” Ignoring the obvious sexist bent of these lyrics (because hey, a girl can’t just be a free-spirited, open-minded girl with a healthy sexual appetite–if she’s not a prude, she obviously has issues. So, what’s the deal with slutty guys, then? Do they all have mommy issues? Just trying to get back into the womb? OK, sorry, I guess I can’t ignore how awful these lyrics are, as evidenced by my earlier usage of the word “slut” to sort of illustrate the point), the whole “daddy issues” thing is just downright lazy. They sort of half-heartedly try to counterbalance their cro-magnon frat-boy view of female sexuality by depicting themselves getting their shit kicked in by the video’s Token Hot Model Chick, as if to depict how they can’t get enough of this easy lover, even though she cruelly stomps all over their sensitive Ivy League hearts. But sorry, that’s just as boring and doesn’t excuse the lame sexist theme.
(Vampire Weekend do NOT have balls, by the way. Any band attempting to mine Afrobeat that ends up sounding like a diluted version of Paul Simon’s Graceland is by definition a band of sad sacks–or empty sacks, in their case.)
Now, I’ll be the first to confess that I’ve had more fun at this year’s Summerfest than I have ever had there in my entire tenure in Milwaukee. Between the excellent Meat Puppets/Matthew Sweet double bill, Spoon, and the upcoming Judas Priest and Elvis Costello shows, the organizers have done really well this year. But if it’s locally-grown quality you’re looking for, skip Chester French and go see anything on the Cascio Interstate Groove Garage stage instead. Hell, even watching the Wildbirds is probably less painful than sitting through an entire set of “smart, cheeky pop in the spirit of Fountains of Wayne” (um, sorry Quinn). But if that sounds like it’s up your alley, go for it, I guess. Just listen to it because you inexplicably like it, not because their parents bought a house in the state where you live.
Fig.3: Also, the CD for the single comes in a condom wrapper, apparently. ZZZZZ
(ENDNOTE: I’m behind on my Summerfest recaps, but they’re coming, I promise. Aren’t you thrilled?)