Arts Devo

Hug a hipster and kiss yer Uncle Dad

Andy, Nico and the Velvet hipsters.

Andy, Nico and the Velvet hipsters.

We’re talking about hipsters If you ask Arts DEVO, hipsters have been getting a bad rap in recent years. These days, the term “hipster douchebag” carries with it a level of disdain usually reserved for the likes of Juggalos. But I really don’t buy it. For one, hipsters are good for business. Just look at our cover story package this week—and add the more obvious examples of the Winchester Goose craft-beer bar and its lumbersexual aesthetic, and the Naked Lounge and its artisanal coffees and teas and the couches lined with the lounging scenesters who enjoy them—and you have a town that is marching to the beat of a hipster economy to the tune of an Arcade Fire anthem.

Evin Wolvertin belts out Queen’s “Save Me.”

Photo by Vincent Vanguard Photography

And two: I am a fan of craft beer, good food and underground music, and when I am looking for new ways to feed my body and soul I will often seek out the expertise of a hipster. If I’m spending extra money on a fancy beer, for example, I’m putting it in the hands of a dude who looks like an old-timey boxer. That dude spends his every waking hour thinking about experimental hops and foraged yeast so that I don’t have to. “Put up yer dukes, so I can put my money in them!”

Plus, I believe it’s a mistake to assume that people who seem pretentious in how they present themselves to the world are somehow less genuine than those who don’t spend much time on such matters. For me, hipsters are just a continuation of the indie/alt/scenester/arty/bohemian/beat/cool/hip antecedents that have always rubbed many “normies” the wrong way. It’s worth remembering that some of the best, most original contributions in art, music, food and culture have come from people who could be pretty pretentious (Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Kanye West). The truth of the matter is that the number of actual annoying hipsters is very probably in equal proportion to the number of annoying people from every other segment of society.

Uncle Rad A quick “Bravo!” to the Uncle Dad’s Art Collective for its sold-out production of Queen: A Night at the Opera at Laxson Auditorium last weekend (Feb. 13). It was a very spirited and dramatic presentation of the British band’s music, one that skillfully incorporated some of Chico’s most interesting headliners as guests to the Uncle Dad’s orchestra. Among the many highlights were Surrogate’s impressive “Under Pressure”; Pat Hull’s intimate, stripped-down “You’re My Best Friend”; and musical-theater stud Matt Hammons’ commanding, stripping-down-to-his-skivvies-and-suspenders rendition of “Bicycle Race.” The house band, singers, dancers and acrobats were spot on as well.

My only real complaint—especially being a huge fan of Brian May and his huge guitar sound—was that the guitars of the more-than-capable Michael Bone and Loki Miller were disappointingly quiet in the mix (especially on what should’ve been face-melting solos). This very well may have been simply a matter of it being difficult to balance such a wide range of sonic elements in a building not designed with rock ’n’ roll in mind. Nonetheless, it was overall a very fun night, one that brought generations of Chico artists and fans together, and I am super proud of Chico Performances for including the local talent on its calendar. The word from the big birds is that they hope to bring the group back for another production—this time for a two-show run—next season.