Song #24: The Brixton Riot – “Might”

September 15, 2020
Song #24 The Brixton Riot – “Might”

How could I write a bunch of anecdotes about Dromedary without mentioning The Brixton Riot?

I have no idea when I met The Brixton Riot. Absolutely no recollection at all. They were just suddenly there, the nicest guys in the world, making perfect, crisp power pop music, and always the first people in line to do the benefit show, the spot on the radio, to write a song especially for your thing, to hop on a bill at the last minute.

They did just that in 2014. Camelfest had morphed into Sugarfest, as I made the wacky decision to shelve Dromedary in favor of the much more hiply-named Sugarblast Music Company. With Maxwell’s gone we had tried doing Camelfest 2013 at Asbury Lanes (it should be noted that the Brixton Riot played that show as well), a poorly-attended nightmare where we raised less money for Roots & Wings than I drank in beer at the bar each night. Although technically, I really drank a lot of beer.

In 2014, we decided we needed to move the shows back to northern NJ, even though nothing had taken Maxwell’s place as the cool Jersey venue yet (still hasn’t). We chose a place in Jersey City called The Citizen, mostly because they sponsored my radio show on WFDU. They’re gone already, perhaps a warning to any other venues that might be considering being a sponsor.

So I have a thing about the benefit shows I put together – I do them all the time (or at least I did, back in the day when you could go to a show at a music venue without, like, dying), so I try really hard not to ask a band to do one more than once every couple of years. It’s hard to be a band and play for free, and it’s also tough to ask people to come out to your show when it’s the same bands playing all the time.

But in 2014, I wound up in a bind. I had firmed up an excellent lineup for two nights at The Citizen. Printed up posters, had a radio spot airing on WFDU, sent press releases to local publications. When it came time to email all the final load-in and backline details to the participating bands – just two weeks before the show – one of the bands on the bill responded with something to the effect of “Holy shit, I forgot all about this show. We can’t do it.”

I was pretty incredulous. “What?!”

“Our drummer might have to work. Plus, I have tickets to see Drive Like Jehu that night, I totally forgot I bought them. I feel like an asshole.”

Probably the right way to feel. By the way, I’m super-grudgy, this happened six years ago and I’m still pissed about it.

I bitched, more out of venting than anything else, to Jerry, the singer of The Brixton Riot. His response? “We’re in. We’ll do it.” With less than two weeks’ notice, they jumped in and saved the day.

The Brixton Riot, opening Sugarfest 2014 at The Citizen in Jersey City

That’s always their response. They’re the first people to jump into a project, try an idea, get people together. They record a song every year for Jon Solomon’s excellent holiday radio show on WPRB in Princeton. Every year since I’ve been on WFDU, they either come into the studio or send a home-recorded holiday song for me. They’ve been guests on my show more often than any other band, they’ve volunteered to jump on every bill, they’ve quietly been there in New Jersey, filling slots on bills, helping people put shows together, introducing people to one another.

They’re from the Feelies/Yo La school of New Jersey indie rock, so they’ll often invite people from the other bands on the bill with them to jump onstage and play “Answering Machine,” or “Rudderless,” or some other classic power pop or indie rock song. People like The Brixton Riot should be super popular, but The Smithereens happened by accident and nice guys who write clean, clever pop songs and treat everyone well just don’t get the attention that boring poseur snot-rock wannabes do, and this is why Little Steven isn’t putting out Brixton Riot records. It’s not a perfect world, so it makes no sense to illustrate how things should be by opening with the qualifier “In a perfect world…” Donald Trump is the fucking president. We all know the world ain’t perfect. But in the tiny corner of the universe where I live, The Brixton Riot occupy the same space as The Smithereens.

There was no fucking way I was making a compilation of covers without asking The Brixton Riot if they wanted to be on it. And because they never say “no,” they jumped into the studio with Peter Horvath of The Anderson Council (another excellent band that was also on the compilation) to record the Archers of Loaf song “Might.”

Here it is. And like I’ve done for the rest of the week, if you buy this, the compilation, or any of its other tracks, I’ll donate the cash to Vote Forward, a nonprofit organization working to boost voter turnout among unlikely voters who are traditionally underrepresented in the electorate.

~ by Al on September 15, 2020.

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