Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Case File #12: "Chillout Tent"

The Hold Steady
"Chillout Tent"
Boys and Girls in America

The need to know: The Hold Steady have undoubtedly won the title of indie rock's favorite bar band, and, unlike the majority of the indie scene's pouty, dapper heroes, Craig Finn and co. are rockers to the core. Armed with an arsenal of songs full of good ol' sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll tales, Finn's lyrical dexterity, and, yeah, a touch of southern rock gee-tars, are what give them the win. Loud rock and drunken poetry are always worth cracking open a case of beer, and The Hold Steady excel at both.

Why it's worthy: Music festivals are always an interesting experience. Thousands upon thousands of people crowd together in the name of music only to sweat it out in the sun, and there's never enough toilet paper and always too many drugs. And that is exactly where we get the story of "Chillout Tent". Featuring guest vocals by Elizabeth Elmore and David Pirner (Soul Asylum) as our concert going heroes, Finn narrates a story of two kids who got messed up on more than just the music and end up spending some time together in, naturally, the Chillout Tent. With one of the catchiest choruses in The Hold Steady's repertoire, it's a tune much less heavy than the subject matter would otherwise dictate (drugs! overdosing! sex!) and, of course, that's why it's so awesome. An idyllic party song on the surface--both kids O.D. yet end up having a great time regardless, which makes the song take place in, seemingly, a world without consequences--"Chillout Tent" is, like much of Boys And Girls In America, both a celebration of and commentary on escapist youth culture. "Chillout Tent" may not be one of The Hold Steady's best songs (its Boys and Girls In America follower "Southtown Girls" is definitely superior) but it's certainly one of their most fun.

Quotable lyric: "She looked just like a baby bird/ All new and wet and trying to light a Parliament/ He quoted her some poetry/ He's Tennyson in denim and sheepskin"

Where you've heard it: If you haven't been people like this, you've definitely seen people like this.

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