Reviewer: Niki Sullivan

Public Approval Tour brings four NYC Antifolk artists to OSU

Like an MTV2 version of Friends, the four antifolk singers assemble for a photo shoot, looking like they've just stepped out of Urban Outfitters.

Casey Holford, Jenn Lindsay, Robin Aigner and Phoebe Kreutz, soloists from New York, are currently traversing the West Coast as part of their Public Approval Tour. April 17 marks their tour date at OSU, courtesy of the Women's Center. Refreshingly genuine, these four are definitely not part of the pervasive pseudo-hip alternative wannabes. They wouldn't be caught with a stylist -- they don't need help being eclectic chic -- and they wouldn't be honored by being dubbed "catchy." On the contrary, originality, not catchy familiarity, berthed the antifolk movement in New York.

Back in the mid-80s, the New York folk scene that nurtured Bob Dylan 20 years earlier was invaded. Like locusts, a rush of imitators overtook the scene, trading folk's stark originality for the safety of emulating established artists. Thus, any artist with a degree of edginess or political cognizance was ousted. Nearly 20 years later, Holford and company hit the scene, striking up a friendship at the Sidewalk Cafe, an antifolk-friendly venue.

With a smooth, sensitive vocals, Holford's intimate songs are saturated with honesty. He draws inspiration from the widest of horizons and chose antifolk because, "it's the most community-driven, intensely creative and prolific movement I've ever been a part of."

Lindsay has a crystalline quality about her -- a fragile veil of a voice spouting crisp lyrical stories. She's adhered to the painful honesty that has always been a part of folk music, most recently in Fired, her newly finished album. "I speak, and write and sing from my own experience; my anger and my love are all my own," Lindsay said, of trying to make original music in an era when critics lump artists together as an easy way to escape actually describing the sound. "I guess people just need a reference point," she said.

Kreutz is a hilarious songstress, demonstrating the broad-base and sense of humor inherent to the genre. Citing Tiny Tim as inspiration, she sings about wanting to be a pirate, falling in love with a Taco Bell worker (specifically Gary) and a less-than faithful boyfriend. Being funny doesn't render her exempt from quality songwriting, though. Her father was a musician, so she would feel guilty using a "cheap lyric."

"It's like smoking or something. I'd be embarrassed if he caught me rhyming 'girl' and 'world.'"

On the other end of the spectrum, Aigner is intimate and compelling with her smooth songs that carry original and endearing western overtones rooted in folk. She wasn't available for comment, presumably because of her busy schedule. After this tour wraps up, she plans to tour the southwest this summer.

What can you expect from a show of artists from an undefinable anti-genre?

According to Casey, "expect possibly dissonant four-part harmony, slapstick, bad knock-knock jokes, singalongs, choreography, 'rhythm eggs,' hollering and wailing and good songs."

Niki Sullivan is the managing editor for The Daily Barometer. She can be reached at 737-2231 or