Actor and comedian Michael Showalter got his start on MTV’s cult favorite sketch show The State in the early ‘90s. A gifted writer, Showalter’s bizarre brand of humor and characters may seem like improv, but as I learned, almost everything he does is rigidly scripted. From the lovably off-the-wall skewering of 80s sex comedies in Wet Hot American Summer to the short-lived Comedy Central oddities Stella and Michael and Michael Have Issues, Showalter is always pushing the envelope: trying the patience of many and constantly questioning “What is funny?” His set at the Pitchfork Comedy Stage proved once again that Showalter might be the new incarnation of Andy Kaufman.
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As the unofficial leader of the Broken Social Scene collective, Drew has a lot of weight on his shoulders. After a four and a half year “hiatus” in which individual BSS members explored semi solo projects in the Broken Social Scene Presents series (Drew released the Spirit If album and bassist/mulit instrumentalist Brendan Canning the Something for All of Us album) Broken Social Scene emerged rejuvenated with the Forgiveness Rock Record in early 2010. As always, Kevin Drew is an energetic and magnetic frontman, and with Forgiveness Rock Record, the band proves that they are gracefully moving into the next chapter of their career as vital, elder statesmen and women in a crowded indie rock scene.
When Michael Fitzpatrick’s friends started calling him Fitz to differentiate between other Michaels, how did they know it would make a killer name for a front man with a band rejuvenating a retro sound? Fitz & The Tantrums (FATT) played at Mercury Lounge on May 28th before hitting DC and Philly over the holiday weekend. I sat down with the guy who started it all through the acquisition of an old organ from a fire sale (using a tip by an ex-girlfriend of all things, very fitting). The band opened with the first song written on the instrument, “Breakin the Chains of Love” with a fast and furious tempo that immediately rocked the packed space. There were calls for audience participation throughout the set, from shout outs, getting low to jump on cue and even a “Hi Mom and Dad” for Fitz’s parents in the audience. Two encores were offered to the adoring crowd, ending with “We Don’t Need No Love Songs” —from you Fitz, oh yes we do.
April Smith’s dad was a rock and roller; April, meanwhile, blends modern and classic pop for a sound she describes as a cross between the Beatles and the Andrews sisters. PopMatters talked to her about her favorite classic songwriters and her dad’s records.
Believe it or not, Kill Rock Stars is coming up on its 20th anniversary next year. Once the home to Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, and Elliott Smith, KRS continues to foster amazing artists like Marnie Stern, Deerhoof, and the Decembrists. PopMatters spoke to KRS’s Portia Sabin and Maggie Vail about feminism and the future of independent music.