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YouTube Live: The Vines “Get Free” on Letterman

on August 31, 2010, 1:15pm

Please stop. What the fuck are you doing? Why? This is embarrassing. You’re embarrassing yourself. Yikes.

These are just a handful of thoughts that come to mind when you see a performance that unfolds into a disaster in almost every way. Though, this particular definition of “disaster” could be anything; the overall energy from the band could drive you to tears; the lead singer’s “deer in the headlights” gaze may leave you with knots of embarrassment; a guitarist may romp up the courage to be a rockstar, only to come off as a tool. Whatever the case, the end result is a total shit fest of a disaster.

In the last decade, we’ve seen plenty of “The” bands come out of the woodwork. It first started as part of the “rock ‘n’ roll revolution” in the early ’00s, beginning with The Strokes, The White Stripes, and The Hives, which faded off into an onslaught of “indie” artists like The Killers, The Kills, The Raconteurs, The Shins, etc, etc, so on and so forth. We all know where those bands ended up, with the majority having lasted and making promising careers. But some just vanished as soon as they came.

Before we continue, let’s get something straight. There’s no real judgment to be passed here, per se. I’m not writing this to declare any band a total shit fest or a disaster, but as time marches on and when you really boil it down, every band has its bad day. That brings us to… The Vines.

You could argue that The Vines’ troubled career really was a disaster. They charted high on the success of lead single “Get Free”, off of their 2002 summer debut, Highly Evolved, and became notorious for their chaotic and unpredictable live shows, which would later be tied to frontman Craig Nicholls’ bout with Asperger’s syndrome. As the condition worsened, touring became an increasingly difficult task to manage, and coupled with underwhelming follow ups like 2004’s Winning Days or 2006’s Vision Valley, they were dropped from their label, Capitol Records. You could say all of this was expected – especially if you had watched their performance on The Late Show with David Letterman back in 2002.

In a way, this performance summarizes The Vines to a T. Catchy, effective, and, unfortunately, short-lived. For their appearance on Letterman, the Australian rockers – well, namely Nicholls – took the idea of a “disaster” and celebrated it for everyone to experience nationwide. On live television, the band kicked off its meltdown, imploding straight into the comfort of every fans’ living room. In hindsight, too bad HD wasn’t around yet, or you would have seen some serious shit.

Anyway, there’s something special about this god awful performance. Nicholls is responsible for every moment of tension, stupidity, awkwardness, and let us not forget his appraisal of his own humility. Some might call what you see here “punk rock” and it’s not far off. Looking at the variables, you have an angst ridden frontman acting as if he could care less about where he is and how he got there, all the while exploring the stage with a mind destined for destruction. Isn’t that what every 15-year-old searches for?

Regardless, band’s demise or not, there’s a lot to enjoy here. Hey, even Letterman had a fun time, (check out his wide, old man smile there at the end), and it was his set they nearly destroyed! One thing’s for sure, though, it sure as hell beats anything Paul Shaffer would have cooked up. Sigh.

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