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Junior Boys: 7 May 2009 - Webster Hall, New York City

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Monday, May 11, 2009
Words and Pictures by Thomas Hauner

The show must go on. So the old adage goes at least, but that was before electronic music and before bands became completely dependent on alternating current and all the gizmos, computers, and samplers that it brings to life. An electronic-based band should hardly have amnesty from such showbiz dogma. And yet the Junior Boys pulled out all the scapegoats at Webster Hall when Matt Didemus’ sampler cut out. Singer Jeremy Greenspan had the unfortunate task of conveying all the bad news to the crowd, though. They chastised the sampler’s manufacturer, AKAI, stressed the frustration of having such problems in New York City rather than Kentucky, and shot out that, “I bet this never happens to Fleet Foxes.”

I would also bet it never happens to any band that:

(1) is prepared, technically, to handle such unlikely events;
(2) has the conviction and creativity/ingenuity to continue without the faulty gear, even with wildly different variations;
or (3) has technical issues but keeps it to themselves and still plays—since 90 % of the gear is functioning—and most fans can’t tell the difference anyway! I heard about a dozen people repeat that last one at Webster Hall.

The worst part was their stalling tactics. They’d say, “OK, we’ve got one more option,” and then spend 15 minutes futzing around with a sampler before launching into a song. Elated that they were actually playing the audience would get all excited, only to hear them stop suddenly and whine about their gear malfunctioning. This scenario repeated itself for over an hour, during which they managed to squeeze out “Work” and “Double Shadow”, though the effort and ostensible technical problems made them all look constipated. Finally, patience wearing thin, the crowd (though I was still struck by how many people were willing to wait indefinitely) booed them (in the face of repeated apologies), and was relieved to finally get a straight answer: The show won’t go on. Lame.

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