Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Soft People: Debauched in the Aughts

The Aughts in Philadelphia, around Neo-Romanticism, the Philadelphia Renaissance, and the rest of it, were in many ways a revolutionary time. Individuals were caught up in exploring different kinds of freedom: creative, political, sexual. The Zach Sulat who wrote and recorded Debauched In The Aughts in mid-Aughts Philadelphia was clearly caught in this maelstrom— trying to decide what freedom meant to him as an individual, who was both creative and an active bisexual. That this is one of the facets of Aughts Philadelphia which will make it distinctive for all time— how debauched it was, not just about sex and drugs but about art and politics— was something Zach knew just as well as we did in the Philly Free School. Debauched In The Aughts starts from a first person plural perspective to announce a generation of artists and political kids arriving and finding themselves. The explicit bisexual angle to this and other tracks on The Vapors makes it a precise, incisive, musically superior substitution for the insipidity of NYC’s Magnetic Fields from roughly the same time. Indeed, as Zach and I discussed, all the hype in the Aughts about rock music in the mainstream press seemed to be false: thus, the mediocrity of The Strokes, The Hives, The Vines, The Magnetic Fields, Bright Eyes and The White Stripes. Aughts Philly was largely emancipated from this particular ball and chain because there were strong individuals around who were happy to think for ourselves. Revolution depends on individuals thinking for themselves; if they can get debauched in the process, as we did, so much the better.

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