"I would maybe compare it to... it's like a light monkey's paw."
November 11, 2015 9:31 AM   Subscribe

"There's a snideness about it that is in keeping with the experience and the inner life of being a certain kind of teenager. It's very anti-earnest. There was a moment after the period where that song came out where everything was humorless and grotesque. But after that, it seems like what happened was that everything got pretty earnest." Why Harvey Danger's '90s alt-rock hit "Flagpole Sitta" endures. posted by divined by radio (115 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw Harvey Danger open for Semisonic at the Bowery Ballroom in the summer of 1998. We went for HD, chatted with them at the bar for a few minutes, and took off halfway through Semisonic's set. I really like Merrymakers and King James Version. I still listen to them sometimes, even.

(And "Carlotta Valdez" would have been a much better single than "Private Helicopter." Jeez Louise.)
posted by uncleozzy at 9:46 AM on November 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


Also it gives the listener a chance to scream "GOD DAMN YOU!" as loudly as they can when their local radio station bleeps either the GOD or the DAMN, depending on its affiliation.

Or so I've heard. Ahem. (Just say you never met me.)
posted by maryr at 9:46 AM on November 11, 2015 [12 favorites]


I saw Harvey Danger open for Semisonic at the Bowery Ballroom in the summer of 1998.

I lived through 1998 and I'm still finding it hard to believe that this much 1998 existed in one place at one time.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:48 AM on November 11, 2015 [118 favorites]


I saw Harvey Danger open for Semisonic at the Bowery Ballroom in the summer of 1998....

That is one of the most 90s things I have ever read.

I love Flagpole Sitta, and I listen to the entire Little By Little album several times a month. Almost all of those songs have a regular place in my internal jukebox.
posted by hopeless romantique at 9:50 AM on November 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


(jink!)
posted by hopeless romantique at 9:50 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Their first and second albums are awesome. I still listen to them all the time.

THANK YOU FOR POSTING!!!!
posted by glaucon at 9:52 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


That is one of the most 90s things I have ever read.

Well, I was probably also wearing wide-leg jeans and Converse high-tops, so ...
posted by uncleozzy at 9:54 AM on November 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


I have a sudden urge to... publish zines? Rage against machines?
posted by gwint at 9:55 AM on November 11, 2015 [39 favorites]


This part was my favorite:
...literally hundreds of kids came up to me and said, ‘I got my tongue pierced because of that song.’ And they would show me and I sort of thought, ‘Well, that was not my intention.’ I wasn’t trying to give a boost to the tongue-piercing industry—I just thought that the idea in the song was that people are letting these sort of outward signifiers stand in for real kinds of rebellion, and isn’t that silly?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:56 AM on November 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


That interview sums up a particular piece of late-90s life so well it's almost painful ...... painfully earnest?
posted by blucevalo at 9:56 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I owned the Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? album on cassette.
posted by AndrewInDC at 9:56 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nothing passed me by more than this part of the 90s, and I say that as someone who loves the influences of the 90s pop punk world (saw Green Day at Gilman, yadda yadda), but I've found that this song really is not dated at all and is just a great piece of work that speaks clearly to the listener. This and "The Middle," perhaps exemplifying the "earnest" label, have jumped into my life over the past, oh, 12 years, and I really don't think anybody can step to this song, except for the name of the band and the name of the song itself.
posted by rhizome at 9:58 AM on November 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was of the age and disposition that I couldn't miss the irony in that song when it came out. In fact, I was so up to my eyeballs in irony, that I probably couldn't have even said the word irony without being ironic about that, and probably making goddamned finger quotes while I did.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:59 AM on November 11, 2015 [14 favorites]


I love Flagpole Sitta, and I listen to the entire Little By Little album several times a month. Almost all of those songs have a regular place in my internal jukebox.

My family was fortunate enough to have two literal jukeboxes. I'd go to random record shows/swaps with my dad out in rural Rhode Island to get 45s he didn't have; he had an extensive collection of stuff from the sixties and some from the seventies and it turns out they made 45s of popular songs well into the 90s (I assume someone is still making them now). When I was a kid (like thirteen) I picked up a copy of this on 45 somewhere so I was lucky enough to listen to Flagpole Sitta on an actual jukebox in my parents' basement while my brother and I jumped up and down shouting "NOW I'M AN AMPUTEE GOD DAMN YOU." It was very satisfying.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:01 AM on November 11, 2015 [27 favorites]


Loved this line from the article, which, unlike most analogies, actually helps me understand what it would be like to be a "one-hit wonder:"
“Imagine you’re at a party and you say something that makes the whole room crack up,” Nelson says. “And then every party you ever go to, for the rest of your life, somebody says, ‘Tell that joke again.’..."

posted by dersins at 10:03 AM on November 11, 2015 [53 favorites]


Or so I've heard. Ahem. (Just say you never met me.)
posted by maryr at 12:46 PM on November 11


Hey maryr - I'm runnin' underground with the moles - diggin' in holes
posted by glaucon at 10:08 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thinking more deeply, I think I was especially drawn to the combination of anger and ironic distance. I was very, very angry around that age pretty much all the time but I was also very depressed and felt completely detached from the real world. This song, among other things (Daria forever <3), helped give me not only an outlet but a template for being distant and unhappy but still funny and maybe a little more tolerable (my favorite band was Everclear which helped me, like, express my rage and depression but maybe didn't stop me from being a tedious pain in the ass).

Figuring out ways to express my anger and sadness and disaffectedness and ennui and rage and melancholia all at the same time WHILE NOT BEING IMPOSSIBLE TO BE AROUND BECAUSE I SUCKED SO MUCH was not easy and I think stuff like this definitely helped. Now my roommate and my husband and I just get drunk and listen to this and dance like idiots (also Peaches by the Presidents of the United States of America) because it turns out this song lets you express rage and angst AND it is a lot of fun and I think that was kind of a breath of fresh air during a time when at I kind of felt like I wasn't really supposed to be having fun.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:09 AM on November 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


hey, remember the lyrics to flagpole sitta's one big song, "harvey danger"? I sure do
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:10 AM on November 11, 2015 [10 favorites]




But what about that time John Roderick had to play bass for the first time

Just a warning that there's some really gross misogyny in this podcast episode that put me off ever recommending the show to anyone, despite the fact that I still listen to it and knock on wood they've not been this bad in quite a while.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:16 AM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sean Nelson has slept on my floor and I made him drink Nescafe in the morning and then he bought me dinner. He's every bit as nice as that article makes him seem.

Also his wife, Shenandoah Nelson, makes really good music. They are a total power couple.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 10:16 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I remember the song well, never seen the singer until this day. On my little box, he looks a lot like a baby Jeb Bush. Don't hurt me...
posted by Oyéah at 10:19 AM on November 11, 2015


Harvey Danger is hard for me to listen to. I still love the music, but I don't think very highly of the person I was when I fell in love with it, if that makes any sense.
posted by mhoye at 10:21 AM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


If I'm not mistaken, this song also pretty much kicked off the concept of "lip dubs" for better or worse.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:23 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Huh. As god is my witness, I never knew a.) The name of the band, or b.) The name of the song. I've always just known it as "one of those 90's pop songs I like hearing".
posted by Thorzdad at 10:29 AM on November 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Listening to Carlotta Valdez in high school, in Houston "jump into the San Francisco Bay, I'll follow you in..." And here I am in the bay 15 years later.
posted by mikhuang at 10:34 AM on November 11, 2015


I saw Harvey Danger open for Semisonic at the Bowery Ballroom in the summer of 1998....

That is one of the most 90s things I have ever read.


I saw Semisonic and Marcy Playground open for Everclear. Definitely peak 90s for me.
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:34 AM on November 11, 2015 [30 favorites]


Thorzdad: "Huh. As god is my witness, I never knew a.) The name of the band, or b.) The name of the song. I've always just known it as "one of those 90's pop songs I like hearing"."

I can do better than that. I'd never even heard this song until today, nor did the name of the band ring any bells. But then, I'm a) old and b) a long way from Seattle.
posted by chavenet at 10:38 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get me

I was in the Corps at the time, and I remember a gruelling crawl that we had to do. At the end of the day, someone told me that the lyric above was what they used to get through the exercise.

I told them how the music in my head was Cher's "Believe" (still an amazing song. Say what you want about autotune...but you do know that Cher invented it, right?). My sexuality was questioned by my unit for the next week.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:42 AM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


TIL this is the name of that song. I do not miss the 1990s.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:43 AM on November 11, 2015


I'm always amazed how much culture managed to go right past me by in the '90s. Listening to this right now and I swear that I've never heard it before.
posted by octothorpe at 10:47 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow! I always thought that was by Green Day!

(i am old and out of touch with what the kids are listening to)
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:52 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was, what, 13 when this song came out? It's a great pop-song in the first place, and pretty emblematic, I think, of what it felt like to be a white, midde-class west coaster at the time. In relative terms 1997 was a pretty good time to be alive in America, and who wants to be a teenager with no problems? If you're bored then you're boring.
posted by muddgirl at 10:58 AM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


~I saw Harvey Danger open for Semisonic at the Bowery Ballroom in the summer of 1998....
~That is one of the most 90s things I have ever read.


I saw Flock of Seagulls open for the Go-Gos. Do I qualify for the "Most 80's" award?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:04 AM on November 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


I saw Blondie open for Rockpile. "most 70's"?
posted by DaddyNewt at 11:06 AM on November 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


"Flagpole Sitta" is a song I play on repeat when I'm feeling anxious, because for some reason it helps calm me down. Something about the weird buzzing intro and the steady rhythm and the fact that the lyrics used to match my inner monologue quite well--back when I was angry and upset and pretending not to be. And so playing it became a routine part of calming down and sitting down to focus on something. When I was in college sometimes the only way I could make myself sit down and actually write the damn paper was by playing that song on repeat until I got up the nerve to open a Word document and start typing.

Now I think playing that song helps me calm down because it has always helped, even though it no longer matches my inner monologue. But it's become such a personal part of how I cope with things that it's a little strange to see an article about it and to remember that this song exists out in the world and other people have experiences with it too. It's like turning the page and discovering a picture of the exact contents of your purse in a national newspaper.
posted by colfax at 11:07 AM on November 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


DaddyNewt: "I saw Blondie open for Rockpile. "most 70's"?"

Wild that they were in that order. Not that I don't love Rockpile and associated acts but they were never as big as Blondie.
posted by octothorpe at 11:10 AM on November 11, 2015


I could never get past the singer's nasal, whiny vocal style. It's the same reason I've never gotten into the Mountain Goats.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:14 AM on November 11, 2015


This malingering fame was also a plot in one of the episodes of $5 Cover: Seattle (now unfortunately impossible to find, it seems - vanished down the MTV website memory hole), where Sean is accosted by a couple of guys who are really excited to run into "Harvey" in person outside a show.
posted by lantius at 11:17 AM on November 11, 2015


I guess I'm kinda like.. a Harvey Danger fan? I think that King James Version is one of the most fun albums to sing along with of all time, so it's one of my go-tos if I'm alone and feel like singing.

Also the singer hasn't got such a huge range that I can't keep up. Sad Sweetheart of the Rodeo and Loyalty Bldg are great fun.

This article reminded me of the existance of The Man Show. weird.
posted by euphoria066 at 11:18 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Flagpole Sitta was, like, the second song I ever pirated off the internet, after Intergalactic by the Beastie Boys.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:19 AM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


All the "this-spoke-to-me" responses here just remind me that I'm musically-broken, somehow. I like music, I make some of my living making music, in fact, but I've never, ever had that sort of response. I'm making peace with this, but it's hard when people want to talk about their emotional attachment to music they love and I'm just like, I like this because the snare drum goes splat or because I can sing along or because it makes me want to jump up and down.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:22 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I saw Harvey Danger open for Semisonic at the Bowery Ballroom in the summer of 1998....

That is one of the most 90s things I have ever read.


I lived in Seattle in 1998, and one weekend apathetically decided it was too much trouble to go see Pearl Jam play a show at Rock Candy. Alas, that's easily the most 90s I ever got, and it was largely a fluke.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:27 AM on November 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


And to think they beat us all to the whole "I don't even own a TV" thing.
posted by Zonker at 11:32 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Today a coworker asked me if I owned a tv. Like, sincerely.

I think I'm coming off as a little pretentious . . .
posted by Think_Long at 11:35 AM on November 11, 2015


featured in the opening credits to "Peep Show" (2004-present)

I'm sure it's 100% coincidence that this song you more or less completely forgot about 17 years ago is just now being hailed as timeless, on the very day that the final series of Peep Show begins airing.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:36 AM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding..."

timeless.
posted by twidget at 11:38 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the narrator of this song grows up to be the narrator of Army.

And then ended up on the stage in Milwaukee last night...
posted by maryr at 11:39 AM on November 11, 2015


I love Harvey Danger, but listening to Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone? always reminds me of that terrible time in my life where my best bet for finding new music was hoping the cards at the end of a movie trailer listed the song they were playing.

(And it turns out all this time I'd been misremembering the trailer as being for The Faculty, and I had completely forgotten about Disturbing Behavior)
posted by ckape at 11:43 AM on November 11, 2015


AV Club really needs better editing. This article, like most of them, was about twice as long as needed.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:47 AM on November 11, 2015


A member of the band worked out of the co-working office I managed a few years ago. When I met him, I made sure to tell him that I also really liked "Carlotta Valdez."
posted by listen, lady at 11:50 AM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


posted by divined by radio

EPONYSTERICAL.
posted by listen, lady at 11:51 AM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I accidentally just reminded myself of the existence of Underground by Ben Folds and feel I must pass it on because a) I feel it has a similar feel to Flagpole Sitta and b) can you believe Ben Folds was ever that young? Wow.
posted by maryr at 11:59 AM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


I really dug the song but also I was like, waaaay too cool and indie and subversive (in my own head) for this sort of "mainstream alternative radio attempt at snide underground irony" so never explored more from the band. In my mind they were co-opting the underground by laughing at/with the underground. Or something. It's all fuzzy. Anyway it's cool to see that they were grappling with all that confusing stuff too and weren't very comfortable with it.
posted by naju at 12:02 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


THE 90's AMIRITE
posted by naju at 12:03 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


EPONYSTERICAL.

The first and only time I was supposed to see Harvey Danger before they took a hiatus between KJV and LBL, I went down to the venue where they were scheduled to open for Grant Lee Buffalo only to find that they were skipping that date, and that date alone, to go play a radio festival in, I think, Rhode Island. I was so crushed that I immediately started sobbing, having brought along a bouquet of flowers and a meticulously crafted mixtape (yes, tape, it was 1999) in anticipation of meeting them and having the singer fall desperately in love with me. In some weird turn of events that only pathetic, tear-soaked, teenaged me could have found herself taking part in, Grant-Lee wound up inviting me onto his band's tour bus so I could sit down and write Sean a letter expressing my love and disappointment, with the intent of delivering the letter and my mix when both bands reunited to resume their co-headlining tour the next day. He actually did! I even got a letter back! And I have been a GLB superfan ever since.

HD's oeuvre is about a thousand times better than almost anyone ever gave it credit for being. If I were feeling productive, I'd finally start plugging away at the Merrymakers 33 1/3 that's been percolating in my brain for about a decade now, and if I were feeling eloquent, I'd try to write the rest of this comment aspiring to touch the hem of my fathomless affection for this era and this song and this band and these dudes. Suffice it to say that when "Flagpole Sitta" was in its heyday, it felt like no one had ever loved anyone or anything as much as 16-year-old dbr loved Sean Nelson -- I used to tape his photos to my wall, surround his name with hearts in the margins of my senior year English papers, pore over every syllable of his interviews so I would know which records to buy and which books to read, gently rest my face against the screen whenever one of their videos aired on MTV -- and my feelings on the matter have barely budged in the intervening years.

For a not-insignificant part of my heart and soul, it will always be 1998.
posted by divined by radio at 12:07 PM on November 11, 2015 [39 favorites]


In my mind they were co-opting the underground

you don't say
posted by Sys Rq at 12:19 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I called Sean Nelson by the wrong name once (in person) and now I can't hear Harvey Danger without feeling embarrassed. My wife likes them, so they come up regularly on the iPod and I cringe and skip.

(Sean was very nice.)
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 12:23 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]




you don't say

Oh man. That can't be a coincidence.
posted by naju at 12:38 PM on November 11, 2015


So, to be perfectly candid: when I opened up this FPP, I was like "That wasn't what the song about the fish and the water and stuff was called, was it?"

Sigh.

Different Harvey.

The 90s seem so long ago now.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:39 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


So glad 90s techno pulled me in. I never even had to notice this song or artist existing before.
posted by ead at 12:44 PM on November 11, 2015


This was The Song for me, one of the very few songs I loved when it was popular with others my own age in my area. Until I hit about 25 and my ecclectic tastes broadened out and the industry diversified enough. Now I can look back and appreciate that 90s pop punk and more from my high school days and bond with people my own age over it, but at the time? The fact that when other kids asked me what music I liked and I could say "Harvey Danger is pretty cool" and they would nod approvingly was a precious gift of belonging in a time when I was convinced everyone around me wouldn't give a damn if I were dead the next day. When I listen to Flagpole Sitta now, the exact slotting of lyrics and mood to my memories of being 14 and my dubious mental state at the time kind of punch me in the face, but I can also appreciate its depth musically. '98 Mizu had a lot of problems but heck, she was already me and I have good taste, damn it.
posted by Mizu at 12:50 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wow, that Deer Tick cover took me down the rabbit hole of AV Club covers.
posted by tommasz at 1:04 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh man. That can't be a coincidence.

Sure it can. I don't think they sound that much alike beyond sharing 90s alt rock sensibilities, but a lot of songs at the time did.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:09 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I never knew the name of this, it was just the amputee song.

Also, I saw Blondie/Rockpile at the Masonic Temple in Detroit in 79, and my memory is that Rockpile opened for Blondie.
posted by rfs at 1:15 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Funny, I always found this song as grating as the Barenaked Ladies or Smash Mouth.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:15 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was just moving out of my 90's alternative rebirth phase (I saw the Dead play Winterland in '74) when this came out, but over the years and the ambient airplay I started noticing how subtle and well-crafted the lyrics were. Love the song now, and I guess it might be time to acquire the album (as Deborah Harry once said: "Once more into the bleach.")
posted by emmet at 1:23 PM on November 11, 2015


I don't think they sound that much alike beyond sharing 90s alt rock sensibilities, but a lot of songs at the time did.

Yeah, I would definitely chalk that up to coincidence, tbh. And the similarity to View Master is really only present in the last few seconds of Flagpole Sitta, where the riff and the rhythm are almost (but not quite) identical. But it's a two-note riff, so, meh. Even if they did lift it intentionally, there's not exactly a lawsuit there.

Mostly I just like excuses to link to Eric's Trip.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:28 PM on November 11, 2015


I caught the end of Harvey Danger's set in 1998 at one of the radio station festivals mentioned in the article. I showed up at the "second stage" near the end of their set to make sure I had good views of They Might Be Giants and The Specials afterward. I remember the lead singer seeming very bored to be there, remarking on how "this is the nicest parking lot we've played in this year." And kind of mocking crowd with lines like, "I love how you guys do that dance where you all just jump up and down" and finally "and now here's the reason you're here, and why we're here today!" as they started playing Flagpole Sitta.
At the time I thought he was kind of a jerk about the whole thing, but years removed, I can't imagine being in that position. It's not a curse, and it's not all bad... but it's gotta be weird.

Until I saw the linked setlist above, I had no recollection of ever having been within a mile of Scott Stapp.
posted by onehalfjunco at 1:33 PM on November 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Dear Mr. President:

We need more band names these days that are [proper name possessives + noun]. Eric's Trip, Mary's Danish, Eve's Plum.

PS: I am not a crackpot.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:34 PM on November 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
posted by Sys Rq at 1:38 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I love Harvey Danger so much. I wouldn't have explored their oeuvre beyond Flagpole Sitta if they hadn't released Little by Little... as a free torrent. Now I consider them one of my favorite underrated bands and evangelize them whenever I can. Score one for giving stuff away as promotion.
posted by Gordafarin at 1:39 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Did I hear '90s music? So, I just need to tell people that Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo is a chief songwriter for Doc McStuffins. That is all.

Also, we're all old now.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:47 PM on November 11, 2015 [14 favorites]


I have some serious Stockholm Syndrome-type feelings happening with this song thanks to my deep and obsessive love of Peep Show.
posted by marshmallow peep at 1:55 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's funny that the "God damn it" line gets censored when the "curves of your body"/"run it up the flagpole and see who salutes" lines don't.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:55 PM on November 11, 2015


It is hard to believe that my musical taste in the 90s included both this song and Stabbing Westward which was so un-ironically emo that it makes me wince.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:12 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Now holding open auditions for "entropicamericana's letter"
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:22 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


We need more band names these days that are [proper name possessives + noun]. Eric's Trip, Mary's Danish, Eve's Plum.

Edna's Goldfish? (That's one of two songs that takes me directly back to my senior year of high school. By some coincidence "Flagpole Sitta" is the other.)
posted by graymouser at 2:31 PM on November 11, 2015


I saw Harvey Danger on the B Stage of the HFStival in Washington DC in 1997 or 1998, along with Save Ferris. The line-up on the A Stage included Marcy Playground, Wyclef Jean, the B-52s, and Barenaked Ladies.

I was already 21 or 22 and completely understood the irony in "Flagpole Sitta" -- for me it was the perfect song for that moment in my life when suddenly people were expecting me to be a grown-up, even though I really didn't know anything about anything, while simultaneously watching those who were instead piercing their tongue and publishing 'zines with a mixture of bemusement and anger.

When they played "Flagpole Sitta" at HFStival, the young'uns in the audience clearly didn't get the irony, and began to mosh. The lead singer perfectly altered one of the lyrics to "Been around the world and saw that only stupid people are moshing..." Brilliant.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 2:39 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's catchy. I dunno. I was 18 when grunge happened, so I thought the whole pop-punk Green Day-era thing was pretty corny. Strangely enough, while I knew this song wanted to be way cooler than a band like Green Day, like wanted to be an ironic take on that genre or whatever, the reason I liked it in spite of myself was its exuberance was so...genuine. The lyrics were dumb, the vocal was a pure white whine, but the joy in it was undeniable. Its failure to be ironic is what makes it a great song.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:56 PM on November 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow! I always thought that was by Green Day!

I think I knew that it wasn't actually by Oasis, but man, it's always sounded like an Oasis song to me.

I think I heard it first on a JJJ annual best-of compilation when I lived in Australia. Listening to those Triple J Top 100s totally take me back to the second half of the 90s these days, when I'm in the mood to be thence taken.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:01 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder what seeing Huey Lewis opened by The Outfield in 1985 is "most" of. Most Dad Rock?

Harvey Danger gets grouped with Cracker, the Barenaked Ladies and The Eels through a messy memory dump of what I was listening to at the time and who I was friends with and which one of them was dating a member of one of those bands.

And remember, it's all good because at least it's not the Spin Doctors.
posted by maxwelton at 3:16 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it too late to throw my hat in the ring for "Most '90s"? Because the first concert I ever went to featured Fastball, Sugar Ray, and the Goo Goo Dolls.

I love Harvey Danger so much - all three of their albums, and I wish they'd made more. Do yourself a favor and go listen to Cream and Bastards Rise. It is, in my humble opinion, as absurdly catchy and awesome as Flagpole Sitta.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 5:06 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


OH MY GOD I JUST REMEMBERED... does anyone else remember that there was a second horror movie starring Katie Holmes that featured a HD song in the trailer? (I think it was "Authenticity," off of King James Version.) I remember seeing that and feeling hopeful that they wouldn't end up being one-hit wonders, and also that that was an oddly specific niche for a band to fill. Maybe if Katie Holmes had done more horror movies, Harvey Danger would have had more success.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 5:12 PM on November 11, 2015


I remember the lead singer seeming very bored to be there, remarking on how "this is the nicest parking lot we've played in this year." And kind of mocking crowd with lines like, "I love how you guys do that dance where you all just jump up and down" and finally "and now here's the reason you're here, and why we're here today!" as they started playing Flagpole Sitta.

I remember seeing Reel Big Fish about eight years ago at a college music festival and this very much being the vibe as well. The crowd deserved any flip remarks it got that day. That was the show where this gal walked in front of me on her flip phone in the middle of a song and I reached out and closed the phone. I'll never forget her anguished, confused cry: "Bitch!"

Speaking of Reel Big Fish and extremely jerky things I did when I was younger, the other time I saw them was at Pointfest 10 in 1998. This was almost certainly the most '90s thing I ever did. We walked into the amphitheater to the strains of Candlebox, and later heard They Might Be Giants, The Urge... I made out with one guy to Stabbing Westward's "Sometimes It Hurts" while the guy I was supposed to be there with was at the concession stand.

I also crowd-surfed for the first time; I went up wearing rolled soccer shorts, and by the time I came down, they were entirely unrolled. I don't even think anything untoward happened, but my friends thought it was gross; I thought it was awesome. I remember wistfully watching K's Choice from above through the fence at the top of the amphitheater, because no one wanted to go over to the side stage with me.

I still can't get anyone to go to rock shows with me, though it has nothing to do with any of that. All my musician friends usually want to go hear jazz and orchestras, or the timing isn't right, or something.

Anyway, I never saw Harvey Danger, but I was pretty into this song around that time. I have Sleepy Kitty albums now, and I really need to get out to a show...
posted by limeonaire at 5:16 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


lemme hit peak 80s:

Liberty State Park, the July 4 concert after they finished the restoration, seeing Gary US Bonds, Til Tuesday and Hall and Oates.

I admit I was there mostly for Hall and Oates.
posted by mephron at 5:42 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


What is this, a Julian Cope cover? Says the 80's alt rock guy, nodding back off.
posted by derekpaco at 6:21 PM on November 11, 2015


I love "Flagpole Sitta," but it's probably in the bottom half of Merrymakers songs. Great album. I saw them play a show in 2005 where Sean Nelson's voice gave out, and they brought people up to sing the last 5-6 songs of the show. I sang "Terminal Annex" with them and it was like the coolest damn thing ever.
posted by aaronetc at 6:38 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, that Deer Tick cover took me down the rabbit hole of AV Club covers.

Me too, and led me to discover that the lead singer of my favourite band of about 12 years ago, Against Me!, is now a woman! I am so out of touch.
posted by just_ducky at 6:59 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, man, peak 90s indeed. I was so goddamn ironic I had racing stripes painted on my old Volvo stationwagon. Which I was driving around in when I first heard this song (on KROQ no less!).

For about a week I had my finger poised over the "record" button on my stereo so I could tape it off the radio, because I was like "this song is openly mocking the radio station's audience so it's not going to be around long". Not one of my sharpest insights.

I still love this song--for pretty much the reasons described in the article. Guess I ought to finally check out the rest of the album.
posted by equalpants at 8:01 PM on November 11, 2015


Anyamatopoeia: “Is it too late to throw my hat in the ring for "Most '90s"? Because the first concert I ever went to featured Fastball, Sugar Ray, and the Goo Goo Dolls.”
“You Would Think All This ’90s Nostalgia Would Mean More Album Sales For Ol’ Fastball,” Tony Scalzo – Lead singer of Fastball, Clickhole, 28 August 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 8:45 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


If we're having a peak 90s concert-off in the comments, my first concert was Semisonic and Soul Asylum opening for Matchbox 20. I remember my (much older) cousin telling me that the three band lineup was a good choice, because I could selectively drop two of them to sound less lame a decade or two later.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:47 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I feel like The Breeders did a cover of this. Or maybe one of their songs stole the melody.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:48 PM on November 11, 2015


Limeonaire, I was at that Pointfest, but being the awkward 15 year old I was, I did no making out. You left out (or blocked out) that Smash Mouth was also there, and as I recall, they put on a pretty good show. And there's no way you walked into Candlebox; someone thought it was a good idea to put them on after The Urge.

(Fragile Porcelain Mice were there too but they must have been on the side stage because I do not remember seeing them)

omg Seven Mary Three was there too. Remember them?!
posted by gc at 10:38 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've mentioned this before, but: freshman year of college, passed on a concert playing on campus. Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Nirvana.

Oops.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:53 PM on November 11, 2015


I went to the Hump Festival this past weekend and Sean Nelson was hosting it. And now I read this thread to find out that I just watched porn with the Harvey Danger dude? Metafilter you're blowing my mind.
posted by thetortoise at 4:06 AM on November 12, 2015


The post-punk scene was not my thing in the '90s. I was into punk in the '80s, and the jam bands were much more interesting at the time. I liked Harvey Danger, but I felt connected to the scrappy punk sounds from my teenage years, when nobody gave a fuck or wanted to get played on radio. By the time the grunge era rolled around, I just wanted to dance to hippie music (and drink constantly). I think it was a scene cliquey thing now that I look back.

The local music scene (in which I was working) in the '90s was dominated by the neo-hippies and the post-punks, who HATED the hippies with a passion, and who also ran the local music and entertanment free weekly at the time, which eventually became a turf war fought in column inches and promo announcements of gigs. I mean, ok, I get the punk ethos and personally really connected to it in my formative and rebellious teenage years in the '80s, but in the '90s in my 20s, all that post-punk posturing and elitism was getting fucking tiresome, especially when it involved the exceedingly low stakes world of small time music scenes.

It's too bad, because I was just as angry and pretentious as any '90s punk, and I needed an outlet for undiagnosed mental illness and trauma, and I connected with a lot of the '90s raging nihilism. But I was also really into psychedelic drugs and weed, and the jam bands and hippies knew how to make that work so much better musically and socially- in contrast a number of my old punk friends were wrestling with heroin. I just couldn't embrace the anger in the music anymore, but I was mostly denying it in myself at the time, and my aesthetic taste seems a bit trivial looking back. But I can appreciate Harvey Danger much better now that the music scenes have dissipated, the small stakes are gone, and my life is no longer such a rolling trainwreck.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:14 AM on November 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's funny that the "God damn it" line gets censored when the "curves of your body"/"run it up the flagpole and see who salutes" lines don't.

I went to an all-girls school and had led a very sheltered life. My then-boyfriend had to explain to me what the second line meant.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 8:04 AM on November 12, 2015


“You Would Think All This ’90s Nostalgia Would Mean More Album Sales For Ol’ Fastball,” Tony Scalzo – Lead singer of Fastball, Clickhole, 28 August 2014

I read that article. I think the author was outta his head. He was outta his mind. How could he have ever been so blind?
posted by maryr at 12:26 PM on November 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


guessing that's a fastball lyric
posted by rhizome at 1:18 PM on November 12, 2015


I read that article. I think the author was outta his head. He was outta his mind. How could he have ever been so blind?

Funny that they'd even be concerned. I was always under the impression that the road that they walk on was paved in gold. And it's always summer. They'd never get cold. They'd never get hungry. They'd never get old and grey.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:44 PM on November 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


My "peak '90s concert, (CanCon Edition)," was seeing The Philosopher Kings and Great Big Sea open for Spirit Of The West. I didn't particularly care for any of them, which made for a long night.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:00 PM on November 12, 2015


Spirit of the West -- that takes me back. I used to love them back in the 80s busking-in-Gastown days, and their first album or two were pretty great, as I recall.

Kind of went downhill from there, though, for me at least, once the guy from Talking Heads (was it? I can't remember exactly) was brought in to produce.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:48 PM on November 12, 2015


Oh thank God, the opportunity for an Ask that I've always felt was just too regional and vague to carry through.

Okay, I lived in Portland from 1987-1998, back when Willamette Week was actually an alt rag that did its very best to muck-rake with Shocking! Local! Stories! every week, typically by distorting some very ordinary practice into something that sounded really appalling (my favorite was probably the multi-page ragefest that boiled down to "The Red Cross charges hospitals for blood even though donors aren't paid!" as if the only cost associated with blood donation was the actual cells themselves.)

My puzzle: WW wrote more than one article about Harvey Danger, particularly about Flagpole Sitta, where the authors were super-inflamed about authenticity, and I have not for the life of me been able to remember or figure out what the problem was. It was something along the lines of radio station payola, or a label taking the recording and bumping the quality up with session players and high production values. (Like the Smelly Cat episode from Friends, speaking of the 90s.)

Also I saw the ultimate 1987-Top-40 lineup: Duran Duran and the Georgia Satellites opening for David Bowie.
posted by gingerest at 7:49 PM on November 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also I saw the ultimate 1987-Top-40 lineup: Duran Duran and the Georgia Satellites opening for David Bowie.

That's as weird a lineup as my first stadium show in 1983: Stevie Ray Vaughn and Men At Work opening for AC/DC.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:51 PM on November 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I saw Harvey Danger at the Two Bells years and years ago, way back when they were new on the scene, all quite by accident, and that night they were like the best bar band I ever saw to this day. I had been writing for the Rocket then and threw a review through the transom the next day. Not that it got published but, damn, they were hot. They did a cover of Simon and Garfunkels Hazy Shade of Winter. The drummer was on fire and the singer quel charismatic. They were just so good that night -- it was so obvious they could go places.
posted by y2karl at 7:46 AM on November 13, 2015


"I saw Blondie open for Rockpile. "most 70's"?"

try Electric Light Orchestra opening for Deep Purple as your first ever proper rock concert.

I lived through 1998

I did too apparently and, thinking back on it now, one of my strategies seems to have been doing pretty much everything I could to avoid whatever was going on out where the lights were brighter. Did I ever even hear this flagpole song? Probably. But at the time, I likely just shrugged it off as more of that over light over brash power pop that was at least NOT f***ing grunge. Now, it seems a pretty good collision of Green Day and the Beach Boys -- ideal for passionate eleven year olds of all ages.
posted by philip-random at 8:52 AM on November 13, 2015


I tried looking up some Willamette Week stuff from the 90's and I could not find anything, but was curious since I lived in PDX from 1993-1997.

Anyway, what I DID find was this charming site.
posted by josher71 at 9:05 AM on November 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


gc: Eh, I didn't mention everyone at Pointfest 10. I don't really have any nostalgia for Smash Mouth... Cool that you were there too, though! I got Fragile Porcelain Mice stickers, but I didn't watch them either.

But re: hearing Candlebox when I walked in, my guess is that it was playing on the PAs, 'cause we got there early to make sure we got a good spot on the lawn. The song playing was "Far Behind."
posted by limeonaire at 12:51 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't even remember which Pointfest I went to but I was certainly an awkward teenager there. This thread is a trip.
posted by thetortoise at 1:23 PM on November 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does it make me a bad person that I liked Harvey Danger, not only because of the grimy guitar and cheesy retro organ, but also because the lead singer has a round face (like me) and the same first name?
posted by Samizdata at 8:51 PM on November 15, 2015


Community service is in your future,
posted by y2karl at 10:22 PM on November 15, 2015


If I am a representative sample, that was the general consensus here. Although sometimes I wish there were a universal drop down acronym FAQ.
posted by y2karl at 8:46 AM on November 16, 2015


My "peak '90s concert, (CanCon Edition)," was seeing The Philosopher Kings and Great Big Sea open for Spirit Of The West

I may have you beat

As a kid I saw Bootsauce and National Velvet opening for Dream Warriors; an all ages Canada Day show in Ottawa. Probably 1990 or 1991 though, so I'm not really even sure that counts.
posted by Hoopo at 9:50 AM on November 30, 2015


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