Reviewer: Erin Lashnits
A shared love of In-N-Out burgers is what brought the four members of the Public Approval together to the West Coast, according to tour member Robin Aigner. Plus, of course, a shared love of music. Casey Holford, Robin Aigner, Phoebe Kreutz and Stanford alumna Jenn Lindsay met at the Sidewalk Cafe in the East Village of New York City, the center of the current Antifolk music movement.The West Coast Public Approval Tour brings this foursome here to Stanford on Friday for a CoHo concert in conjunction with a workshop on political songwriting. These events are sponsored by the LGBT-CRC as part of their week long Queer Awareness Days (QuAD), which began on April 16 with the National Day of Silence to raise awareness about the injustices suffered by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual people across the country.
Antifolk as a genre began in the mid-eighties in New York City with a group of musicians who broke off of the folk boom and started their own movement. It incorporates many other genres, from ’80s garage punk to Americana. Honesty through lyrical strength seems to be the unifying feature of Antifolk and, according to some, that’s the reason it has been going strong for twelve years.
Casey Holford, at 23, already has a decade of live performance experience behind him and two discs recorded. While his guitar is mostly acoustic, his music is much edgier than traditional acoustic folk. His songs provide melodic, rhythmic and lyrical depth, and much personal insight that is sometimes lacking in political songwriting.
Jenn Lindsay, a Stanford alumna hailing from San Diego, plays regularly for schools, women’s centers, and folk festivals. Her music focuses primarily on the struggles inherent in urban life, moving easily from quiet confessional to indignant rallying cry, and back to personal reflection. While it is easy to compare her work to that of Ani Difranco, Lindsay says, “I speak, write, and sing from my own experience; my anger and my love are all my own. I guess people just need a reference point.” Lindsay uses these Difranco’s influence to her advantage; pulling off and effective mixture that evokes the Indigo Girls and is reminiscent of Dar Williams. Lindsay says her influences are “very situational. I am influenced by whoever I am listening to at the time.”
It has been said that the third member, Phoebe Kreutz, sings like a lovechild of Joan Baez and Weird Al Yankovic. To me, she sounds like a female version of Adam Sandler, only more focused on the quality of her music than that renowned comedian-turned-songwriter. Working well within the Antifolk community, Kreutz also keeps true to her promise to never write about her feelings.
Robin Aigner has tuned her music to alternative roots folk, with interesting vocals laid on top of soothing melodies. A native New Yorker, Aigner looks forward to her West Coast tour as a “badly needed break from the New York winter,” as well as the sometimes overly competitive musical scene there.
The foursome put out a demo compilation CD in anticipation of the tour, with three songs from each individual artist. The disc works remarkably well for a compilation, with each musician showcasing distinct interests and skills on every song. Kreutz’s musical style and brings some comic relief to the otherwise emotionally and politically charged record. Lindsay and Holford, well versed in the field of social protest music, both present this talent on their tracks. Lindsay writes protest songs in an attempt to act as a spokesperson that gets her voice heard, as well as to affirm with her audience that they are not alone in their protest. She believes protest music is “actually music of affirmation; it embraces hope and positivity and supports a peaceful alternative.”
Holford promises to make the show will be as entertaining and enjoyable for the audience as it will be for the foursome of singers, by using a “wide array of tactics, including but not limited to dissonant four-part harmony, slapstick, bad knock-knock jokes, sing-a-longs, choreography, hollering and wailing and good songs.”