No Sex and Candy after 40
A night of 90's nostalgia with Marcy Playground
By Kevin Moore
Illustration by Jimmy Chen
first saw the band Marcy Playground at Coachella in 1998…
Okay, I’m kidding, I never saw Marcy Playground,
and I have certainly never been to Coachella. I actually
don't even know anything about music, but I was in high
school when Nirvana came onto the scene, I wore flannel
shirts, didn’t wash my hair and had legitimate rips in my
jeans, so there’s that. In 1999 I went to a Rolling Stones
concert in Oakland, but I got high midway through their
third song and couldn’t stop thinking about the odds of someone in the audience dying after the show. I mean, 60,000 people were in attendance, surely someone would die, would it be me? It wasn’t me ( I don’t think ), but I had to leave before it ended because sitting there trying not to guess who it would be is the only thing worse than suffering through a Rolling Stones concert in the first place.
Anyway, that is literally the only concert I have ever been to in my life, until last night.
I went and watched Marcy Playground in Berkely, about 20 years after their hit song, "Sex and Candy", rose to number 8 on the Billboard 100. It was surprisingly fun and certainly interesting. My girlfriend knows Dylan Keefe, lead Bass guitarist, producer at Radiolab, painter, and super cool guy. He gave us free passes so we ubered over, had some drinks, and watched as a bizarro version of 90’s nostalgia filled the air. Although there were some real fans at the concert, I never considered myself one of them, that is, until now (Dylan agreed to follow my son on Instagram, giving me instant cool Dad points).
Initially I was pleasantly surprised to see so many
old people at the concert, I didn’t realize that I
was one of them until I became immediately
upset at the lack of chairs. There were around
100 people in attendance ( although my girlfriend
swears it was closer to 50, we will just call it 75 ),
but only 6-7 chairs! I guess we were expected to
stand for the duration of the show, which, honestly,
wasn’t going to happen, my back wouldn’t allow it. After snagging a couple chairs, the show started and shit, it was fucking loud as fuck! Can everyone just calm down please? I just don’t understand why LOUD music equates to GOOD music? This is not the bands fault, I suppose its my fault for being old and enjoying listening to multiple sounds at once without getting a headache. I mean, imagine going to an art show and only being able to see one fucking color, even as your other senses work just fine. You can hear everyone talking, you can talk back to them, you can drink cheap wine, but you can literally ONLY SEE THE COLOR RED! Thats what Rock concerts are like after 40, its a goddamn nightmare. I am pretty sure my girlfriend was talking to me throughout the concert, but all I could do was smile, nod and pretend I was saying something interesting back to her.
Marcy Playground remind me of those technically good painters with great brushwork, they are like the Skip Liepke of Rock bands. Their music is
well crafted, and the lead singers voice has a
deep transient sound to it.
Their one hit single from the 90’s,
“Sex and Candy”, was the reason
everyone ( including them )
was there, but curiously the band treated
the song like it wasn’t special, playing it
with little to no fanfare. There was no
build up, no tension, they just played
it as if it were any other song on the
set list. I guess this was my only real
problem with the evening ; everything about the show was nostalgic, so why not give the audience what they wanted and save the best (or most popular) song for last?
As artists, we want people to like our work, but when they do, we often look at the success with a type of disdain. As a painter I know I have been guilty of this, if my audience likes something I do too much, it can't be trusted. This is the problem with success, it can be random. I think "Sex and Candy" sounded no better or worse than the other songs on the set list, in fact, I liked a few songs much better, but that doesn't matter. We live in an age where most of the comments I read about my work involve words like "Dope!', "Sick!" and some fucking fire emoji. Its very difficult to tell what quality is, and much easier to just give people what they collectively want. Sometimes success feels like a no win proposition. On the one hand, its cool that Marcy Playground did not do what bands like Sugar Ray did, and base an entire new album off their hit single, on the other hand, Sugar Ray sure did cash in...
Marcy Playground are not Radiohead (Im pretty sure they don't want to be ). Radiohead can get away with not playing “Creep” at their concerts because they have 20 other hit songs that can take its place. Marcy Playground literally have one hit song, it should highlight the show because nobody was there to listen to good music ( unfortunately ), we just wanted to hear Sex and Candy the way it sounded on the radio in the 90’s. Its like seeing one GREAT goal at an otherwise standard
soccer match, it makes the entire experience worthwhile. We wanted our one goal to be great! On a side note, is
there a cooler phrase than "disco lemonade?", I have no idea what it means, but I strongly feel like it needs to be the name of some type of product or podcast ( thinking...).
fter the show was over we hung out for a bit and talked to Dylan and a few other members of the band and some random people. There were a couple of moderately attractive groupies in Sex Pistols t-shirts and I couldn’t help wondering if someone from the band would sleep with one ( or both ) of them later that night. Then I started wondering if there is a correlation between a bands success and the relative hotness of the groupies that follow them, and then I wondered about groupies and if there might be any women there that evening that used to be Marcy Playground groupies but are now married with kids, and that got weird. Then I began to wonder if anyone would die after the concert, and I realized we all died in the 90's.
Mama this surely is a dream.
Marcy Playground and old people