January 27, 2009 § 4 Comments
by Anthony Pilgrim
“I’m a child of Reaganomics
And I take it all for granted
When I wake up everyday”
Stalemate – “$10”
If you were born between the years 1983 and 1990, here’s a quick history lesson to bring you up to speed on where we stand. We’re called Millennials, though Evan Wright’s monsters might become popular when history books are actually printed up. We were born to Baby Boomers, bred on GenX-ers, and all along the way told with the new information super highway the world was at our fingertips and the new American Century would be one full of flying cars and orgasms. I’m not really sharp enough to tell you when that all turned on us, but before long we were taught to fear guns and pipe bombs going off between class periods, our parents slipped Ritalin and Adderall into our Coco Puffs, and TRL slowly but surely turned us all sterile. By the time the Y2K did come, we were waiting on the 360 of that promised future we were told was coming around. Instead came the time when we lived in the post 9-11 days of America. You stood for the pledge every morning, watched gas prices yo-yo day-to-day, and were told “You’d better make some decent money in life if you don’t want to starve in this day and age.” So ended our promise.
For all our good and ills, like every generation since the last Great War, we deserve solid musical representation for our years. This however becomes a more difficult task than it was for our parents and older siblings for quite a few reasons, the first of which being the music business is currently in the bleeding-out stage of its existence. Any music that exists or will exist in the future is currently available for free in one digital form or another. Even the top of the charts have seen a multi-million dollar slip in sales over the last three years. This leaves us free to do whatever it is our little hearts desire, but leaves us without a wizard behind the curtain to give us a big push into definition. Beyond the lack of marketing, the cracks in our scenes are big enough to fit Pluto. Once the turn of the century came we divided and never really found our crossroad. There were the suicidal Johnny Knoxville groupies, the testosterone-filled Nu-metal mutants, the slit-wrist valentines, the indie darlings, and the Otaku nerdcores all thinking their day was coming. This twisted little knitting makes it hard to think that a defining sound could come out to label the group now entering mid-to-late twenties. Yet in the small New England state of Rhode Island, somewhere between the Coca-Cola plant and the Carvel factory, lives Matt DeMello, Geoffrey Rush, Corey Waldron, and Kevin Perreira, who make up the band Stalemate, and possibly the equal sign to our generation’s equation.
As far as musical talent goes, Stalemate falls firmly on the professional level. Their songs are tightly written and complete with beautifully placed musical interludes, solos, and the occasional Benzedrine (if my guess is right) fueled rant/beat poem. Their first album, “Grand Experiment” is as ambitious as one can get using Garage Band. But these aren’t the reason they’re worth spilling ink over. Any band can tighten the screws, and ambitious can be defined as your cousin playing violin on track 2. What’s important is the music itself. Stalemate can be called, if nothing else, a truly honest band. While most musicians of the day either deny the time period they where born in or strangle the current scene for everything it’s worth, Stalemate takes the balance. There is no denying the modern influences that shine through in their songs. Such songs as “Running” off their first album include the patient Victory Records deep throat scream choking out the lyrics “Trust me/ It could have been worse/ I could have been running with someone else/ when I’m better off with you” They could have stuck to this formula and easily followed as the next Hawthorne Heights or Brand New (especially with Demello’s work on the keyboards). However they rise above this with a collection of socially-conscious songs including “Maybe Tom Cruise has a Point”, an all around Pattie Smith-influenced tune of this generation’s exposure to behavior drugs. The rest of the song’s subject range from sex, living with cancer in a family, suburban hopelessness, mental stagnation and over-stimulation, and anything else in between.
The live shows lack no luster due to the complex nature of the songs. They are profound events but are not devoid of humor. Matt DeMello dances around his area of the stage wearing anything from New Wave Devo glasses to a full-blown cowgirl outfit. Corey Waldron wails on heavy metal-style solos that remind the public why the guitar gets you laid. Geoff Rush bends himself into a human pretzel and demands attention that defies the bass guitar’s usual backdrop role. The whole thing is held together by Kevin Perreira drumming, which bleeds Bonzo volume and steadiness. The set lasts between 45 minutes to 2 hours (a personal experience of mine) and includes cover songs that range from To-To’s “Africa” to Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade”. The shows are loud, sweaty, fulfilling, and I have yet to see them not asked on for an encore.
With a resume like this there seems to be very little holding the boys back from the limelight. Their location is an excepted problem, with Providence not making anyone’s best or worst town’s list (either will work for the next big thing). For this I recommend an outpour of support from Boston to grab the boys while we can, lest we repeat the mistake we made with That Handsome Devil and let the New York scene swallow them whole. It is important not to lose these boys. Not because they are my personal friends, not because we need to be the celebrated hipsters who knew them before they where famous, but because if my guess is on, these boys can tell the story right. When it is asked by whatever rock and roll history scribe of tomorrow “But what did the Millennials ever come up with?” we can for once answer, “This.”