I write about songs.

Archive for the ‘Unrest’ Category

Unrest, “Cath Carroll”

Earlier this week I read that Unrest, a Washington D.C. indie band that broke up in 1994, was making a quick reunion tour of the Northeast. (The trio reunited once before, for a one-night hometown show in 2005.) As it happened, one of the dates is at the Bell House, a comfy venue only a fifteen-minute walk from my house. I thought “Hooray!” and reached for my wallet to take out my debit card and order a ticket. And then I thought “Do I really want to see this?” I e-mailed a friend who was also a fan of the band back in the day. “I can’t figure out if I care about this or not,” I wrote. “It seems like a lot of work,” he replied. I’m at a loss as to why I felt this way. Because I’m 41? Because it means staying out late? Because it means having to stand through a set by Versus, the opening act? (My friend and I used to agree that they were excruciating.) Most likely, for me, because it means going back to a time that I miss a little too much.

I loved Unrest’s music—a few songs were punky, like this one, but most of them were upbeat and poppy, with spacey, noodley elements thrown in. (One brief number, called “Food and Drink Synthesizer,” was made from the sound of one of those long toy plastic tubes that whistled when you lassoed it in the air.) They sang about what it felt like to be a teenager, even though they weren’t teenagers any longer—about making out, liking music, having sex, being home sick and wishing you could be having sex. A couple of songs reference ice cream. But I loved Unrest’s gestalt even more. They were obsessive fans of semi-obscure musicians and artists, and they threw out intriguing cultural touchstones in their songs and on their cover art. They named a lovely song after Isabel Bishop, the mid-20th-century American social realist painter, whose work I was excited to find in the Whitney when I moved to New York. The packaging for a compilation of Unrest’s singles has random pictures of some iconic Bauhaus-y modern house that I just spent an hour trying to identify through numerous vague Google searches, unsuccessfully. I discovered Unrest through the song in this video. (The video is such an ungodly mess that you’re forgiven if you want to turn your head away and just listen to the music.) The band members were fanatical about Cath Carroll and her ’80s group, Miaow, as I was; they put her portrait on the cover of their last record, Perfect Teeth, which led me to buy it. The disc itself was imprinted with a picture of Cath’s tattoo, a kitty with a walking stick.

I kept trying to imagine what the reunion show would be like, playing old Unrest songs in my head and remembering what I loved about them, until this morning, when I decided that I had to buy a ticket. I went on-line, debit card in hand, only to find that the show had sold out. Sometimes it sucks to be me. Now my only option would be to see them play a few days earlier at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, and that really would be a lot of work.

Written by peterterzian

May 8, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Posted in Unrest


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