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Friday, March 11, 2011

So Was the Bruise Cruise, Featuring Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, an Adventure -- or a Disaster?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 12:03 PM

  • Darrow Montgomery/ Washington City Paper

Last year, we told you about the latest wacky festival phenomenon to strike the world of indie-ness: a three-day cruise ship ride to the Bahamas featuring some of the wildest bands in garage-rock, among them, San Francisco's own Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall.

The cruise went down late last month, and reports from the dozen or so media outlets that covered it are still streaming in. The latest is a cover story in the Washington, D.C., City Paper by Jonathan L. Fischer that manages to capture both the good (music; antics like throwing a bass into the ocean) and the bad (the pervasive shitty cruise ship-ness) of this rather odd happening.

Most importantly, Fischer writes that our locals did us proud. Thee Oh Sees, he says, played the best set of the event:

The performances start Friday afternoon. Following the opening act by Ty Segall--in which a Bruiser proposes to his girlfriend with musical accompaniment from Segall's band--San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees unleash the weekend's best set, all brown-acid, echo-chamber garage rock that hinges on the axes of noisy-to-mechanical and soulful-to-scary.
Ah, that sounds like Thee Oh Sees, don't it?

But Fischer's story paints a rather ugly picture of the Bruise Cruise (at least to our minds): cruise ship employees covering over the rock lair to turn it into a fake comedy club; drunk bro-y dudes at Senior Frog's in Nassau oogling at the "three hot chicks" in the Vivian Girls, and the slow seepage of privileged monotony into the otherwise-taut mindsets of the Bruise Cruisers. Although Fischer calls the event a success, and praised the chance for rockers to get close to their fans, the headline of the piece is "a supposedly punk thing I'll never do again." Fischer explains why near the end:

But, on the way back to Miami, the Bruise Cruise finally feels part of the Cruise Cruise. After three postcard-perfect days at sea, it's impossible to remain only ironically engaged in the cruise activities. You have to choose between existential despair and just going with it. I'm trying to do the latter. I know, from that famous dead novelist [David Foster Wallace], how the other way can end.

The folkways of the Imagination haven't always made it easy. Back on the first night, the mostly Indonesian wait staff provided between-course entertainment by dancing to Flo Rida's "Low," singing along in chopped English while the largely white Bruisers cheered. It felt like a minstrel show.

There's also a strange class dynamic on board. The vibe on the Carnival Imagination is lower-middle-class to middle-class. A lot of Cruisers have tattoos, the un-hip kind, and many of them paid far less than us to be here. So much for fucking up the mainstream: The Bruisers are the ship's privileged crowd. There's no upscale propriety to invade.

Check out Fischer's piece here. Did anyone go on Bruise Cruise? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

[Washington City Paper]

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