In Defense of BADBADNOTGOOD

Don’t Take it Out on the Band

  • BADBADNOTGOOD playing NXNE 2012. Photo Dimitri Koury

After weeks of avoiding the subject on Facebook, misleading the student press in interviews, failing to promote it anywhere at all and just generally prevaricating, the Concordia Student Union announced the headliners for the 2012 Orientation concert on Wednesday.

It’s BADBADNOTGOOD. No, that’s not a frenzied description of the situation, although it could stand in for one. It’s the name of the band.

All caps aside, you’d be forgiven for being as non-plussed after the announcement, which they did on their official Facebook group without much fanfare, as before. To the untrained eye, the concert’s full lineup—BADBADNOTGOOD, KRNFX and Azari & III—might all seem like warm-up acts. But no, that’s it, that’s all there is to entertain the masses Friday night at Loyola.

Where, you might ask, is this year’s Snoop Dogg? Where is this year’s Metric? Stars? Talib Kweli? Heck, two years ago, the CSU snagged both Chromeo and K’Naan.

Here’s the kicker. BADBADNOTGOOD is a Toronto-based trio of jazz musicians no older than your average second-year. A jazz trio.

I don’t have anything against jazz as an artform. I even have a jazz CD at home (The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out). But the Orientation concert is traditionally a space for the CSU to demonstrate their expertise at making a big-name splash that’ll draw a huge crowd and please the masses. Instead, this announcement basically confirms the suspicions that the Orientation concert has been one big SNAFU from the get-go.

It’s hard for me to write that, of course. I’m writing it as a Concordia student, not as a music fan. Truth be told, I love BBNG. I got into them a few weeks ago and I’ve been listening to them a lot ever since. We reviewed their live album to much acclaim last spring. Their bread and butter isn’t just jazz, it’s jazz covers of songs you already know. They’ve released covers of songs by Feist, James Blake, Waka Flocka Flame and Kanye West. They’re known to cover “Niggas in Paris” live.

Done right, this concert could be a jam. With covers, their ability to play to the musical tastes of an enormous crowd of undergrads outstrips most acts this side of Girl Talk. These guys weren’t the house jazz band for Odd Future at Coachella this year for no reason. They’re talented and seem to have an innate knack for transforming hit music into a beautiful new product, at once highbrow and lowbrow, as apt to please the staid as the stirred-up, their jazzy riffs both dance-positive and mosh-inducing.

That’s why I’m pleading with you to take the CSU at their word that BADBADNOTGOOD are headline-worthy material. No, they’re not a big name, caps, again, aside. No, you haven’t seen them on MTV. You most likely haven’t even watched any of their videos on YouTube.

But this is as good a time as any to check them out. Their albums are available for free download on badbadnotgood.com. They’re a great, interesting band, and they don’t deserve the backlash they’re going to get when people find out that’s all there is to this year’s Orientation.

Plus, when they get big in a year or two, or at least develop a cult reputation, you can brag to your friends that you saw them back in the day at a dingy little out-of-the-way campus that no one’s ever heard of. Now that’s indie cred.

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