• VANITYITES frontman CHRIS MOULTON has already apologized (on Facebook, blaming excessive drunkenness) for his insulting, immature behavior at last Thursday's Equality Maine benefit (which doubled as the release party for his band's new EP), but that doesn't mean we're ready to let him off the hook. Multiple accounts confirm that during the Vanityites set, Moulton pointedly and repeatedly derided "the faggots in Lincoln Park" (i.e., OccupyMaine). He was quickly confronted by other musicians, which allegedly prompted certain members of Moulton's band to challenge the critics to a fistfight, though some Vanityites later moved to distance themselves from Moulton's defense.
Whether Moulton is or isn't homophobic isn't the point (and we couldn't care less about his views on the Occupy movement). Nor is his right to free expression — of which we at the Phoenix are the strongest defenders you'll find. The problem is that Moulton was behaving in the idiotic way that has come to define the phrase "like a rock star" — acting out for the sake of creating a scene. We're fortunate that incidents like this aren't common in Portland's music scene; they are particularly out of place at an event promoting equal rights for all. EQME executive director Betsy Smith said it best: "that kind of language is inappropriate no matter what setting one is in (and) has no place in our society."
Moulton's young (only 24), so we'll hope he makes this not the start of a destructive pattern, but rather a constructive lesson: Using an available microphone as a license for base, obviously offensive language is the territory of the least interesting sort of artist. Provocation and "punkness" can be compelling, and even useful, when used in the service of genuine expression, but are particularly distasteful when handled roughly as tools for marketing or image-making.
Since his Facebook apology says, "I'm not really sure how to proceed now," here are some starting points: 1) give us a more formal, less classic-rock-star, apology that doesn't shirk responsibility and blame booze; and 2) take some public step to actually make amends, both to the EQME folks who shouldn't have been subjected to abuse at their own event, and to the OccupyMaine people, who welcome intelligent informed debate but specifically disavow name-calling, insults, and all forms of violence, verbal or otherwise.
• In more interesting news, Leif Sherman Curtis — riffmaker of Conifer, Moneycastasia, and AoK Suicide Forest — has begun playing with Caleb Coulthard (of Down to Kill, Caleb Aaron and the Thrill Pills, etc.) in a new project, tentatively titled NAKED STRANGER (or possibly Ancient Love . . . though sign us up for either). The band play their first show at the new venue at 131 WASHINGTON AVE in late November, and we wouldn't be surprised if they sounded like a filthy Gun Club.
• One of the weirder slabs to have reached our desks is I Wish My Brother Rob Was Here, the new 14-track mixtape by local indie "nerd-rapper" MILO. The reference to Del the Funky Homosapien (in the title) is apt: Milo is "nerd" in the literate way, tossing off references to David Foster Wallace, Busdriver lyrics, and a bevy of contemporary cultural memes. Good, thoughtful stuff set to chilled out, Anticon-ish beats, and available for free download at miloraps.bandcamp.com.
• Ex-Sophomore Beat frontman Daniel James drops the debut record by his new project WORRIED WELL, a seven-song pop ballast streaming on his bandcamp until its official November 15 release date. Fewer are the bubblegummier moments of James's old band; Worried Well introduce chunky riffs, No Depression darkness, and jangly restraint. Check for hand-stamped copies of the self-titled EP (limited to 200 copies) in Bull Moose and elsewhere.