Features | Awards

The I Was Briefly Not Embarrassed to be From New Jersey While Watching MTV Award

By Lindsay Zoladz | 17 December 2009

Screaming Females

2009 found Screaming Females—New Brunswick, NJ’s greatest export since the Fat Sandwich—racking up some serious “Next Big Thing” points: releasing their best and most widely acclaimed record (Power Move), putting on a couple of performances that made them the talk of CMJ, and opening for Jack White’s (albeit terrible, but still indiscriminately high profile) band the Dead Weather. What makes them so uncommonly awesome among the crop of artists who achieved similar success this year is—aside from the fact that Marissa Paternoster’s particular brand of face-melting fills the Carrie-Brownstein-shaped void in my heart—that they’ve managed to survive the hypestorm of 2009 with their DIY ethos completely intact. Fresh off the Dead Weather stint, they were back playing basement shows in Jersey, to crowds larger and more enthusiastic than ever. Perhaps the band’s biggest and most bizarre milemarker of mainstream success came in August when they were invited to play on MTV’s post-TRL afternoon talk show, It’s On With Alexa Chung.

The band played the blistering Power Move lead-off track “Bell,” among a set that was trying to create some sort of artificial basement show intimacy. It’s a wonderful performance, oozing all sorts of 120 Minutes nostalgia and briefly reminding us that there was once someone working at MTV who believed a segment in which Thurston Moore could interview a fresh-faced, stoned-off-his-ass Beck did indeed have an audience (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xol6b_thurston-moore-with-mike-d-beck_events.) Talking about how MTV doesn’t relate to music anymore is so obvious it’s passe; I think this year we’ve actually reached a new stage in its cultural disconnect. Has MTV now become so irrelevant that a talented artist performing live on one of the channel’s programs is now so bizarre that it feels little bit subversive? I would answer that question, but Jersey Shore is about to come back from commercial.