Live Last Night Weekend Report, Part 2: Child Ballads Bomb
On Friday night the kids were alright, but on Saturday night Stewart Lupton most certainly was not. A decade or so ago Lupton was a star in the making, lead singer of consensus Next Big Thing Jonathan Fire*Eater. They were the Strokes before the Strokes, but a predictable collection of problems - too much too soon, low album sales, substance abuse - derailed the band. But mostly it derailed Lupton. Three members of the D.C.-rooted quintet went on to experience plenty of "O.C."-approved success with the Walkmen while Lupton simply disappeared. He reemerged within the past couple years with a new band, the Child Ballads. The organ-fueled garage rock of JF*E was gone in favor of ragged folk, Lupton's lyrics remained as memorable as ever and the six-song "Cheekbone Hollows" EP represented his best work yet.
The band's CD release show on Saturday night, at the odd locale of upscale Chevy Chase D.C. pizza restaurant Comet Ping Pong, should have been a triumph, as it was celebrating Lupton's first album release in 11 years. Instead, it was a disaster. And that would be putting it kindly. A large crowd was on hand but people started to file out even before Lupton finished his first song, a barely recognizable solo version of "Green Jewelry" that featured incomprehensible vocals and some seriously shoddy guitar playing. And it was all downhill from there.
Even with a three-piece band backing him to presumably give him some support, there was none to be found. His band members had eyes locked on the ground throughout, probably too embarrassed to see Lupton in the state he was in or the quickly dwindling number of audience members. Instead of playing songs from the album they drifted through a 20-minute free-form piece that saw Lupton stumble across the stage, fall down a handful of times, continuously adjust the microphone without ever singing into it, complain about the sound, and so on. He was in no condition to stand upright, let alone perform, and any hopes that he had gotten his act together for what should have been a big night quickly disappeared. It all seemed lost on him, too.
"You can clap now," he said to the shrinking number of audience members after ending something that remotely resembled an actual song. A few people complied, but mostly the couple dozen folks left just stood there looking depressed.
And that's exactly how to describe the show - depressing. Discomforting and embarrassing would also work, but mostly depressing. The talent has always been there for Lupton but instead of harnessing it he's fallen prey to the most classic of rock-n-roll clichÃ©s. A night that should have represented a fresh start instead was just another mini-failure. I was standing next to the merchandise booth for most of the night and didn't see a single person purchase the Child Ballads album. Which is too bad because it's a legitimately excellent collection of songs. But it was hard to blame people for not wanting to contribute any money to Lupton's cause after seeing him on stage.
By David Malitz |
April 22, 2008; 3:59 PM ET
Live Last Night
Previous: Live Last Night Weekend Report, Part 1: Double Dagger Delivers | Next: Please Explain to Me ... My Bloody Valentine's 'Loveless'
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: T.D. | April 23, 2008 10:27 AM
Posted by: mary | April 23, 2008 11:26 PM
Posted by: mary | April 23, 2008 11:30 PM
Posted by: Geoff | April 24, 2008 1:28 AM
Posted by: joe frazier | May 5, 2008 1:33 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.