Stuart Moxham of YMG says he’d give, well, something precious to be in the New York audience. Read his comment after the jump.
What happens when a couple dozen veterans of the New York-New Jersey indie rock scene join forces to put on a tribute to a near-perfect — and perfectly simple — album released 35 years ago by three young, relatively inexperienced Welsh post-punk musicians?
We’ll find out at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27, when the gang convenes at The HiFi Bar in Manhattan’s East Village for “An NYC Tribute to Young Marble Giants ‘Colossal Youth.'”
The show, organized by Dumptruck bassist Tom Shad and Renée LoBue, Elk City’s singer, will feature a slew of performers playing and singing the songs from the influential cult album’s 15 all-too-brief songs.
More after the jump.
In addition to Renée (who will also be MC for the evening) and Tom, announced performers include Cynthia Sley (Bush Tetras), Eszter Balint (the singer-songwriter-actress who appeared in Jim Jarmusch’s cult film “Stranger Than Paradise” and seen last year as Louis C.K.’s non-English speaking girlfriend on his FX Network comedy series “Louie”), Toni Baumgartner and John Baumgartner (Speed the Plough), Mary Spencer Knapp (Toot Sweet), Matthew Davis (The Thousand Pities), Sam Weisberg (Calotype), Mike Fornatale, Paula Carino, John Brodeur, Joe Fee, Dave Derby (Dambuilders), Verena Wiesendanger, Lysa Opfer (Overlake), Robert Conroy (Misty Roses/My Demon Sister), Brian Musikoff (Stuyvesant), Andrew Wellington, and Joe Fee.
“I really do love Young Marble Giants,” Renée tells Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? “I found out about them a number of years ago and loved them immediately and the would listen to other bands that followed them and realized how much they were influenced by Young Marble Giants — bands like Beat Happening and Camera Obscura and even Heavenly, Belle & Sebastian.”
“It’s going to be a really fun night,” she says. “There’s going to be one backing band for everyone. I’m going to sing one song, and we’re going to present a handful of different singers and we’re all going to work with the same backing band, who will consist of Tom Shad and a number of other people … There’s a great lineup of people on this. I’m really excited.”
Among the lineup are two longtime friends of WYMMWIG?, Toni and John Baumgartner of Speed the Plough, who have some experience playing YMG tunes. STP’s version of “Final Day,” included in the band’s 1991 album “Wonder Wheel.”
“We did ‘Final Day’ way back then and it kind of led to a friendship with Stuart Moxham on Facebook,” John explains. “I guess he was doing some interview and somebody asked him about Young Marble Giants covers and he mentioned the Speed the Plough version of ‘Final Day.’ So I got in touch and we struck up a bit of a friendship over the years …
“He’s been sympathizing with me over getting the keyboard parts down,” John adds.
Stuart “mentioned it’s too bad he doesn’t read music or he’d write the parts out for me. And then he got back in touch and said if you’d like, I’ll videotape myself playing the songs. And I said, by all means, do that. I haven’t gotten it yet, and I think I have the things all figured out, but who wouldn’t want to have a video of Moxham playing his own songs for you?”
Toni Baumgartner, who sang on STP’s version of “Final Day,” picked a different YMG song for her part of the tribute: “Eating Noddemix.”
“I feel really good about it, but I was so nervous,” she explains “The song I’m singing has so many words and even though I have them memorized, it’s always really nerve-racking, making sure you do it when you’re supposed to do it. And they happen so quickly.”
Toni says she was first attracted to the song because of its unusual spoken-word ending.
“I thought, that’s kind of cool. And then, when I studied the song and I realized that the lyrics had some pretty deep meanings, I thought well, this is good, it’s relevant today. It’s about how everybody doesn’t care about what’s going on and people just go about their busy lives and they don’t pay attention to important things and tragic things that are happening all around them. It was kind of a wake-up. I thought it had a good message.”
Renée, Toni, and John agree that there’s far more than meets the ear to Young Marble Giants songs.
“I really gravitated toward it because they seemed very, very simple, very basic,” says John. “And on deeper exploration, they’re really not quite so simple … The charm of it is the idiosyncratic nature of it.”“Young Marble Giants are all about restraint,” Renée says. “Demonstrating restraint musically, it’s no small feat, it’s much harder than it seems. I’m not a singer or performer who’s about restraint, and it’s really funny that I love them so much.
“They’ve managed to do something that has always eluded me, and because of that they’re really special to me.
“They were so stark and so much about the space where nothing exists, and that’s where the magic happens … They knew how to give just enough of themselves to put the song across and they left so much blank space. And it’s the blank space that’s so magical … We can all learn something from that.
Tom Shad picked the date of the tribute for a reason: That same night YMG’s original trio — vocalist Alison Statton (who’s now a chiropractor by day) and brothers Stuart and Philip Moxham (who are still making music) — reunite for a rare show as part of London’s Meltdown festival, curated this year by David Byrne.
“I think Stuart’s particularly excited about the fact that, across the Atlantic a few hours later a whole bunch of other people are going to be doing the same thing that they’re doing the same night,” John says.
IF YOU GO
What: “An NYC Tribute to Young Marble Giants ‘Colossal Youth.'”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27.
Where: The HiFi Bar, 169 Avenue A, East Village, Manhattan.
Tickets: Free admission, donations will be collected. Guarantee admission by donating ($5, $10, $20) in advance online via Ticketfly.