There seems to be a little bit of misinformation surrounding Salem‘s performance at the FADER Fort last Saturday and our own reception of it. We’ve long loved the group, put them on one of our limited edition 7-inches and in the magazine and on this site about a billion times and are grateful they decided to risk playing at a venue that was never going to serve them well. So when FADER editor Matt Schnipper used a portion of his latest column to address the show, and said that they were “booed offstage” and were “not good,” it was within the context of saying how much he likes their music and how ill-suited the Fort was to display it. And of course a few people took it out of context and tried to make it seem like we were clowning a band that we’d booked, which is not the case.
Salem needs heavy bass, crushing synth and vocals buried—this is not a secret or a cover-up, it’s how they do things. We know this. We like this. One of the necessities of throwing a mini-festival like the Fort, though, is that bands don’t really soundcheck. They get baseline set-ups and the sound is tweaked by our excellent crew for like one minute before the bands play. So Salem didn’t sound “bad” so much as they didn’t sound like Salem. It’s like if we’d put Nas up there with a paper bag and an accordion—it would’ve been awesome to watch but not really Nas. BUT the fact that a few people howled (and this is probably more accurate than “booed offstage”) isn’t really a bad thing. Salem’s whole shit is to make people uncomfortable and maybe wonder what is going on. They had a girl sitting on the floor of the stage doing nothing for chrissakes, it’s not like they’re unaware of their image. So anyway, take that for what it’s worth but don’t think that we’re piling on over here, we thoroughly enjoy whatever it is that Salem is doing.
And now, here’s Salem’s performance of “Redlights” from the Fort, and here’s what it sounds like on their album Water. Feel free to discuss in the comments.