"Wham City" by Dan Deacon which clocks in at 11:45
My friend Ike* hates Dan Deacon. He thinks that Dan Deacon makes mindless hipster "liking this music makes me the shit" dance groove, "dunno why I'm listening to this" (because somebody cool told me to) "but it make my body move" - "oh and WOW is this club where this show is off the beaten path (extra cool points) or what?!" - music. Like, to Ike, Dan Deacon = The Happy Mondays, and all of Williamsburg is The Haçienda, and the pills being passed around aren't ecstasy, but rather coolperson culture pills. Ike doesn't need them pills ya'll, and he sure as heck'd rather not bother with some "shart" songs that're 75% about the communal experience of seeing them performed live; good or not. Ike don't need your stinkin' scenestertastic auralgasms, Sir. Dan. Deacon.
I'm paraphrasing there actually. Ike hasn't said nearly any of that to me, I'm simply summing up Ike's unstated opinions; which, I'm concluding are floating around in his head based upon a few passing "stupid Dan Deacon" comments Ike has made. However, I know how he thinks. And I'm fairly certain that's an accurate approximation. Good enough for our purposes here, at any rate.
What I'd like to look at, ever so briefly, is that which this very song title references. For you, for me, and for our sour friend Ike.
What is "Wham City"? Land of a thousand careless whispers? The place where everything she wants is everything she sees? The land that time forgot, where you'll have a boom-boom put into your heart and a jitterbug into your brain? Where the grey skies are out of your way and the sun shines brighter than Doris Day? Everywhere else your beats per minute never been the same, in "Wham City" you'll go dancing, everything will be all right!? If you can Make It Big there, you can make it big anywhere??
Well sir, sign me, and my George Michael loving self, up for a one way ticket to this "Wham City". I love Wham.
The truth is, in addition to being the title of this particular 8+ song by Dan Deacon, that Wham City is also a collective of artists in Baltimore founded in 2003 when several graduates from SUNY Purchase relocated from New York.
"Ah, well okay, I still hate Dan Deacon", says Ike.
Be quiet Ike. Now, don't be a lazy Ike and take that wiki entry as the entire story of Wham City. Let's dig deeper.
Part time Pitchforker, eMusic list maker, previous Pazz & Jop balloteer, Seattle Weekly contributor, and current Senior Idolatoress Jess Harvell wrote a piece for Baltimore's City Paper that lays out all of the details you'd ever want to know in regards to Wham City. Do read the whole thing, but if you're pressed for time you can find some select bytes below.
- The climax of the set comes with "Wham City," from Deacon's new album Spiderman of the Rings (Carpark). The song was written as a "national anthem" for Wham City, the crew of Baltimore-by-way-of-New York artists who are Deacon's closest friends and collaborators. Deacon's friends and fans pile onstage, chanting the lyrics.
Far from a castle with a gold-spewing fountain, the real Wham City was a rented industrial loft space squatting somewhere between Mount Vernon and Charles Village. (Its members have requested we don't divulge the exact location in print.) In its first incarnation, it was often filled with garbage. Smashing plates in a sink with a baseball bat was a popular activity when bored. But especially after it moved one floor upstairs in the same building, it was a crucial local space for "music shows, variety shows, TV talk shows, video productions, theatrical productions, lecture series, potluck dinners, photo shoots, fashion shows, [and] dance parties" in the words of Wham City member Adam Endres. Wham City united many young people in the Baltimore art and music scenes who maybe didn't even know they needed uniting
And perhaps even more important than providing a space to promote this mixed-media aesthetic, Wham City gave the members a safe haven to, well, dick around. Ideas could be quickly thought up and executed, eradicating the pressures of "professionalism" that come with putting on an event as a club, theater, or gallery. Or, as Wham member Ed Schrader says, "[Wham City] means I can wake up with a retarded new song in my head one morning, and be playing it two days later in front of 100 people."
"Artist schmartist. The music still sucks," says Ike.
*name altered to maintain the anonymity of he who has been referenced.
**image of Wham City flyer found HERE.
Buy Spiderman of the Rings HERE on Amazon or HERE on iTunes.
EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Clan of Xymox - "A Day (Remix)"
Built to Spill - "Broken Chairs"
Spacemen 3 - "Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here)"
Pulp - "Seductive Barry"
Pelican - "March to the Sea"
Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, and Tony Rice - "Guitar Space/Summertime"
Boris - "Flood"
Vieux Farka Touré - "Diabaté"
To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.