May 1, 2008

Slope Day Preview: A Tribute To Gym Class Heroes (or, "Why I'm No Longer Indie")

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What I’m about to reveal might well cause Brooklyn Vegan to block my IP address, and will certainly draw the scorn of Senior Editor Sammy Perlmutter (whose icy stare, through those thick, royal blue hipster glasses, will shake me to the core). My indie aficionado credentials are about to be revoked, because what I will soon divulge to you, dear readers, is, quite simply, unacceptable in indie-land.
I freely and proudly confess — right here, right now — that I love this year’s Slope Day headliners, Gym Class Heroes. Everything about the music, from the staccato typewriter tics that signal the beginning of the band’s breakout LP, As Cruel as School Children, to their trademark, boisterous instrumentals and rapper Travis McCoy’s sly stylings, has me totally hooked.
But what is it about Gym Class Heroes that I love so much? Maybe it’s their bold choice to buck prevailing hip-hop trends by trading in turntables and production-room synths in favor of some good ol’ fashion gee-tars and a drum set (following in the impressive footsteps of hip-hop giants, the Roots). Maybe it’s McCoy’s effervescent musings on life, love and MySpace (“New Friend Request”) or the band’s pairing with William Becket, of The Academy Is…, to pay homage to life on the road (“7 Weeks”) — and let’s not forget the surefire party pleaser, “Clothes Off.”
Whatever the case, whenever listening to the Heroes’ I always feel like there’s a little bit of Cornell hidden somewhere between the awesome production and stellar lyrics. After all, the band hails from Geneva, NY — just miles down the road — and lead guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo actually spent a year as a student on East Hill, climbing the very same slope he’ll be performing on tomorrow afternoon.
From the moment the Slope Day Programming Board announced the lineup that would serve as the centerpiece for the most debaucherous day of the academic year, I knew that I would need to exercise all the control I could muster on May 2nd. I can’t black out at noon; I need to be entirely conscious when Gym Class Heroes hit the stage tomorrow at 4 p.m., because this year’s headliners promise to continue the strong tradition of hip-hop artists on Slope Day — dating back to Kanye West and Talib Kweli. (Who’s T.I.?)
Bring it on!