No Sex and Candy after 40
A night of 90's nostalgia with Marcy Playground
By Kevin Moore | 10.17.18
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 certainly have never been to Coachella. I actually don't even know anything about music, but I was in high school when Nirvana came on to the scene, I wore flannel shirts, didn't wash my hair and had actual 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 might 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, until last night...
I went and watched Marcy Playground in Berkeley, 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).
Crap Rolling Stones concert
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 noticed the lack of chairs and became deeply upset. There were approximately 100 people in attendance (although Dylan thinks it was closer to 150, so we will call it 150). 150 people and only 6 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 shamelessly stealing a couple of chairs when a couple went to the bathroom, the show started and shit, it was loud as fuck! Can everyone just calm down please? Does LOUD music always equate to GOOD music? This is obviously not the bands fault, I suppose its my fault for being old and enjoying listening to multiple sounds at once without getting a migraine.
Marcy Playground and old people
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! That's what rock concerts are like after 40. It's an acoustic nightmare.
I am pretty sure my girlfriend was talking to me throughout the concert, but all I could do was smile, nod and pretend to say something back to her.
Marcy Playground remind me of those technically good painters with flashy brushwork, they are the Skip Liepke of Rock bands. Their music is well crafted, and the lead singers voice has a deep, transient sound to it. The band's one hit single from the 90's, "Sex and Candy" was the main 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 or build up. Essentially they played it as if it were any other song on the set list, and 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 view that success with a type of disdain
and annoyance. As a painter I know I have been guilty of this, if my audience likes something too much, it can't be trusted. This is the inherent problem with success; it can be random. I don't think "Sex and Candy" sounded any 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. There does not seem to be much critical discourse being written on social media pertaining to art. It is very difficult to tell what quality is, and much easier to just collectively give people what they want. Often, 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 of a hit single, on the other hand, sure did cash in...
Actual comments on my work
Marcy Playground are not Radiohead (I'm 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 take it's 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. It's like seeing one GREAT goal at an otherwise standard soccer match, it makes the entire experience worthwhile. We wanted our 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)...
After 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 wondered if anyone would die after the concert, and I realized we all died in the 90's.