If you're like me, you probably hadn't heard of Ex Cops before ten days ago. That's when band member Brian Harding used Facebook to post an open letter to McDonald's as to why the band wouldn't be playing the multi-billion-dollar corporation's SXSW showcase for free. The story quickly became national news, and ironically, the band now has more buzz than if they had played the showcase for exposure or if McDonald's had agreed to shell out some cash. I'd wager it's probably the best thing that's happened to the Brooklyn indie band, and they probably secretly thank McDonald's every time they pass the one on Grand St. between Graham and Humboldt.
Ex Cops make hazy indie pop that's pleasant enough, but the fact is, it's not terribly unique. While they definitely sound better on record than they did last night, over the less-than-optimal soundsystem at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, I wouldn't have minded continuing to play Area 51 and listening to them in the background. The only thing I would've missed is the beauty of lead singer Amalie Bruun, a heroin chic Danish model whose vocals recall Lana Del Rey. Harding's vocals were incredibly thin, forcing me to contrast Ex Cops to a few male/female indie duos (The Submarines, Club 8) that have already nailed this dynamic. Most of the songs sounded similar too, notable exceptions being the '60s California flavor of "Tragically Alright" and the shoegaze-y final number, "Rooms."
While I still think performers should be paid for their work (I've been performing standup comedy for over eight years, and have been paid seven times, so you know I'm empathetic.), I sort of wish McDonald's had picked a more original band for their showcase. Then maybe a more-deserving band could be relishing the national attention that Ex Cops are currently receiving. But that's behind us now. Mickey D's has agreed to pay its SXSW performers, which is undoubtedly a good thing. I only hope that Ex Cops will continue to grow as songwriters, so their legacy isn't just "band who wrote an angry letter to McDonald's."
EX COPS - 03.13.15 - BROOKLYN NIGHT BAZAAR (38 minutes)
SET -Spring Break (Birthday Song) / Separator / White Noise / Daggers / Black Soap / Burnt Out Love / Tragically Alright / Wanna Be / Rooms