Salem, “Redlights” at the Levi’s® FADER Fort

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.

POSTED March 26, 2010 11:30AM IN LEVI'S/FADER FORT, Levis Fader Fort Main Category, Levis-Watch Comments (73) TAGS: ,




  1. nothanks says:

    “wahh, the sound system wasn’t loud enough to keep people from realizing we suck. wahh.”

  2. boneytoney says:

    oh man, you know you can bring your own reverb unit if you don’t trust the sound guy, right? it has nothing to do with sound, it’s off key and totally without groove and may they be the first of many of these effects-dependent lame acts to be exposed as fraudulent… drugs, reverb, computers, SPD pads, cassettes, DIE DIE DIE

  3. George says:

    stupid comments. what wold My Bloody Valentine sound like without the loudness? What would Dillinger Escape Plan sound like if they weren’t so loud? Sometimes volume and distortion is integral to a band’s performance. So shut the fuck up.

  4. Bree Davies says:

    This is the kind of slobbering, music critic on band hand jobbery that makes me not want to write about music anymore.

  5. fad-ster says:

    Seriously? Come on!? Aren’t you supposed to be ‘professionals’ in the music bizzz…I mean you jump on what ever is ‘in’ and marketable…and you make a TON of money. I find it hard to believe that you don’t take the time to soundcheck artists….especially in a venue like that (and your obviously expecting allot of people). Even run-in-da-mill DIY basement shows do a quick soundcheck. And trying to retract/explain Matt Schnipper’s statement and candycoat what he said is not a smart move. He said it… of your ‘writers’ talked shit on a band that you had play your event. DEAL WITH IT. Don’t be a wuss.

    In regards to Salem: There are artists that make art for themselves and don’t care what other people think/say….that is a good thing. I’ve seen them play 3 times…and yea…it’s kinda ‘meh’…what it really comes down to is that they are not a LIVE band….and that’s ok. I think they should just keep doing what they do, record, and release shit. You don’t have to play live in order to keep up the ‘hype’. Just make good music…..and it won’t matter. The live thing can come later…don’t rush it. It’s too bad FADER kinda fucked SALEM……that’s what happens when you mix art with ‘corporate sponsored’ bullshit… will always prevail and FADER will move on to the next band to profit from. It’s sad. Can I have a pair of jeans?

  6. Peter Macia says:

    I wish people who called other people “wuss” wouldn’t do so under fake emails. Kind of ruins the fun.

    But I’ll respond anyway. If you reread, I didn’t retract anything Schnipper wrote. I tried to show the full context of his quote about Salem (in which he definitely did not “talk shit”), and then gave my own opinion. Which you then agreed with in your second paragraph there.

    Not sure what you mean about jumping on “in” things. And making a TON of money. Or not soundchecking, since it is clearly stated that we did soundcheck but are on a tight schedule with a lot of very different sounding bands. Not sure why you skipped that part. Also run-in-da-mill is not an actual phrase.

    But thanks!
    Peter Macia
    Editorial Director
    The FADER

  7. Yoram says:

    I was there.
    And understand your point, Peter.
    But they were booed off the stage because they looked like they didn’t even want to be there – not because the venue wasn’t correct.

  8. Peter Macia says:

    That’s a fair point, though I’d say maybe the sound/venue had a little to do with them not wanting to be there? That is if they didn’t actually want to be there, which is debatable. Some commenters will say tough, that Salem should just play better live, but that’s missing the point. I mean yeah, I would hope they try to make every show better than the last as I hope with every band I like, but people seem to want them to be something they’re not. I think it was cool that Salem did it knowing it wasn’t their usual. That’s it.

  9. hern says:

    Peter Macia…glad you explained your ‘work function’ at FADER. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind when I read your magazine while pooping. To quote you, “bands don’t really soundcheck”…..exactly his point. Yea, you didn’t retract Matt’s statement…but trying to candy coat it is lame…..he said it. deal with it. real or fake emails is not the point… one cares….it’s the message that’s important. And to say that you ‘don’t know what you mean’ in regards to making money? Your event was corporate sponsored. So you didn’t make any money? Or did they just pay you in slivers of denim? I think Salem are great. Let’s let artists be artists and writers comment on whether ‘goop gaap doon’ is an actual phrase.

  10. Peter Macia says:

    I wish you would learn how to comprehend language dude for real. It’s frightening.

  11. duder says:

    I wish you would learn how to respond to a ‘free discussion’ instead of remarking on dude’s comprehension of grammer. NOT THAT’S FRIGHTENING!

  12. Peter Macia says:

    It’s only a discussion if the participants are reading each other’s comments in full and responding to them with full comprehension of their meaning. And if someone’s going to be a dick right off the bat then I don’t see why he or she should be given special allowance.

  13. an important opinion says:

    The degeneration of this “discussion,” while predictable, has been highly entertaining. Will check back shortly.

  14. david cook says:

    lets just say it it is what it is….. the band DID have a horrible mix for what they needed to accomplish THEIR SOUND. they are really good in the studio. the show DID SUCK. matbe they should stick to playing little art spaces where the people appreciate their abstract sounds and never sing again without reverb. with that said, i still like their music. i think that sums it up. thanks fader for everything u gave us last week u guys are awesome.

  15. vdezz says:

    who cares?

  16. bingo says:

    Look, if anyone wanted Salem to be something they’re not, it’s Fader. Because what they are not is a live band. If you get a plumber rooting around in my mouth like he’s a dentist, yeah, it’s not going to go over well. But I’m going to blame both you AND the plumber for thinking otherwise. Point of fact: Salem suck live. And they sucked everywhere, not just the Fort. Whatever buzz they had, it is now tainted, and that’s not the fault of the people testing the wares. It’s just not.

  17. anton stasny says:

    @ David Cook, COULD NOT AGREE MORE, you are dead on, and actually seem to have a brain unlike some of the anono-haters above talking about ‘corporate sponsorsed bullshit’, what, is it 1992 again and no one told me? those commenters have to be over the age of 45 to be that out of touch. do these idiots realized that it’s those same ‘corporate’ dollars that provide a platform for over 40 bands/djs and i heard over 15,000 people come thru that fort in 4 days – AND having a FREE EVENT with FREE DRINK and an incredible environment for anyone and everyone to enjoy?

    FADER, i’m hard pressed to think of a music media brand that is more on point than you guys. keep up all the great work!! let those hater morons go back to their 2 visitor-per-day blogspots… ha!


  18. d adams says:

    what’s up with the money comments? so weird, last i checked, The FADER was a ‘for profit’ business, so why should they not make any, some people are so bizzare… should they work for free and go out of business like all the other music magz have (harp, no depression, magnet, urb,blender etc etc)?

  19. david cook says:

    the funny thing about the corporate sonsored bs is the same fools that are yelling that mess were there drinking free soco. i remember when nirvana did the unplugged set and at the beginning when they were tuning up someone shouted from the audience “mtv still sucks!” and kurt responded by saying, “then why are u here?”

    that summed it up

  20. Chris says:

    I’m still highly anticipating their debut album.

  21. woot says:

    To save time Chris, I suggest you buy a Fields of the Nephilim record, play it at the wrong speed and then ask a kid you find stoned outside the mall to come freestyle over it. Same effect.

  22. davidd says:

    I think what the commenters mean in regards to corporate sponsorship is that it’s less about the music and more about finding ‘an act’ that will generate a large draw (i.e. money). And I also thinking comparing Nirvana to anything in this present age is pointless….these are different times especially with the internet hype machine pushing everything……it’s really hard to pin point. Regardless…….as long as the music is good and original than i’m all for it.

  23. Tmendez says:

    I have to say this is the second time I’ve seen them, and the second time I’ve been disappointed by their performance.
    I also don’t understand the apologists that are saying SALEM are not a live band, this show was many months after the last time I saw them, and there was no improvement, it was actually worse.
    Most of these bands usually know well in advance that they’re playing at SxSW, and to not have your live set together for it reads like laziness. People come from very far away in some cases and to present such a poor performance is really lame.
    It’s not like their setup is super complex, so many little things could’ve been done so that they could control their sound from the stage. Also, please explain how the venue/sound excuses the rap dude from drumming out of time on the drum pad.
    Watching this again is so cringeworthy. Seriously, it feels like i’m watching a Metallica shreds video.

    Whatever, I guess all press is good press right?

    @Peter Macia boo, your replies in the comments aren’t really a good look, and reflects pretty poorly on the mag.

  24. punky says:

    i think this video sounds cool and weird. Too bad the venue didn’t work for them. Outdoor performances, festivals, etc. always come across as kind of hippyish and underwhelming to me in comparison to the feel of dark indoor spaces. I’m in a punk band and I don’t think we’d ever want to play an outdoor venue except as a gift to people who like our music or to the people organizing the event. I think SALEM’s willingness to perform probably expresses a lot of respect for the fader. I share their respect. I also think its worth noting the Schnipper’s column is a creative and ever-engaging exercise in unabashedly subjective, creative criticism. I read it and I like it. I think it undermines a lot of the accusations people are making here about some kind of artistic corruption or “selling out” on the fader’s part that they are willing to publish an opinion that expresses a negative slant on an artist with whom they could have a potentially valuable relationship. Also, George’s comment with regard to My Bloody Valentine is obviously significant. Personally I never find hip hop particularly compelling live, though I haven’t really seen enough hip hop shows to make this claim. Also, I saw Clap Your Hands Say Yeah one time in high school when they’re great first album had just come out and I was too high and they looked like losers and it completely sucked. It wasn’t a big deal and I still love “Details of the War.”

  25. david cook says:

    cosign everything punky just said

  26. david cook says:

    oh yeah…. with all that being said. titus andronicus was the best bend at sxsw, fader really slept on that one.

  27. jem says:

    Peter Macia?! Seriously? You have no idea what is going on. If you don’t get it now….you never will. too bad

  28. blah says:

    How difficult is it to get a digidelay/reverb or something to mask her voice?!! COME ON. Its embarrassing to defend this.

  29. Ryan says:

    It may be true that Salem would have sounded better had they had better sound, etc. But that misidentifies the problem. I saw salem at a smaller venue a couple nights before (the mohawk) and they were bad, really bad. I went inside to check out the other band. I came back for the end of the show and they finished their set with no applause. People looked confused and were discussing how bad the band was as they were playing. Salem may have some good songs, but when the drummer on a synthetic drum can’t stay on beat with a drum machine, the singer slurs off-key into the microphone, and the band generally acts like they could care less about being on stage, they just aren’t good. you can’t make that up with a better sound system. Japandroids sounded bad at the fort because the sound wasn’t right for them, but they didn’t get one boo and put on a good show nonetheless. This post is embarrassing for FADER, Salem is a bad band live, they have no talent on stage and don’t care.

  30. Peter Macia says:

    @Ryan I’m not sure what people expect from this band, to be honest, but I didn’t expect a whole lot in terms of a live show. I expected it to be weird and probably fucked up and it was. In that sense, they succeeded. How much patience you or I have for that is totally subjective, so there’s no point in even arguing that. All I’m saying here is that the venue and sound didn’t do them any additional favors. I’m not saying they would have sounded and looked like Led Zepellin (or Japandroids or Titus Andronicus) had they had an hour-long soundcheck, and I’m sorry if anyone else came into this thinking they would. That’s like if you went to see GG Allin and then got bummed that he was dancing in his own crap, the dude danced in crap for a living, but I’m sure sometimes people just accidentally went to a bar to see a band and then there was a naked dude covered in feces. I can see not being psyched about that. I’m not sure if Salem is trying to be the GG Allin of not giving a fuck but they aren’t trying to be some super tight rock band either. What they are being, whether they are trying or not, is messy and interesting, especially to those of us who like their recorded music.

    Anyway, the point of the post was not to apologize for a coworker’s statements but to put them back in their original context after they were taken out of it. And then make a few jokes about what I thought was a pretty obvious situation.

    Sorry folks.

  31. Luke says:

    “especially to those of us who like they’re recorded music.”

    YOU’RE an EDITOR!? wow. just wow.

  32. Peter Macia says:

    @Luke I edited it. Thanks.

  33. david cook says:

    this is prolly the most anyone has ever talked about salem! good job gettin publicity salem!

  34. glimmertwin says:

    I was there too and it was truly awful in person – embarrassingly so. They looked like a bunch of complete burnouts who wandered onstage and made up something on the spot. I’m mad I had to sit through it and they should be embarrassed they they let themselves get so screwed like that in the first place. There were about a zillion bands at SXSW who sang through a ton of reverb and pulled off more studio centric recordings live so if they couldn’t make it work live it’s on them – not the sound guys….besides, the sound guys often aren’t intimately familiar with every artist so they probably didn’t know what it was suppose to sound like in the first place. If Salem wants to play with the big boys then they better come prepared…

  35. cory says:

    i wonder if fader realizes how dumb they look by defending this.

  36. isthisrob says:

    Was the performance also sponsored by Budweiser tallboys?

  37. luke says:

    this band is obviously talentless
    if you cant play your song live, if you cant sing, if you cant play a fucking DRUM PAD
    then you shouldnt be a band. youre not a musician. stop booking this horseshit

  38. Charles says:

    i didn’t really have a high opinion of fader before this, but after this debacle, fader is really down low on the kiss ass PR totem poll shitfest.

  39. opinion says:

    this bears repeating:

    also, please explain how the venue/sound excuses the rap dude from drumming out of time on the drum pad.

  40. RMT says:

    All hype, no substance.
    The emperor has no clothes.

  41. Soundguy says:

    I was the sound guy at this show.
    All the other bands sounded fine, because they can play and sing.
    This band straight up is awful and stop blaming me for how much they suck.
    Fader, you booked some complete bullshit. Man up.

  42. Peter Macia says:

    This all now makes a lot more sense. Thank you.

  43. Charles says:

    Peter, you better quit before you get fired.

  44. Peter Macia says:

    I’m going to quit because I now know what’s up. Comment away.


  45. New York Times says:

    insult to real musicians everywhere

  46. Johnathan says:

    Peter, how about this? Please post a video of this band not sucking live to disprove all the comments?
    A myspace music track in no way cuts it.

  47. Charles says:

    salem’s live video is offensive, but your stubborn attitude towards this situation is truly more offensive, Peter. Please start acting like an adult, admit you’re wrong and be done with it.

  48. opinion says:

    You know what’s up? Do you think this is some internet conspiracy to take down your band? There are only like 5 members of that facebook group.

  49. janeeats says:

    am i the only person who enjoyed salem’s performance at fader fort? the girl up on the stage doing nothing cracked me up. best. back. up. dancer. ever. hahahah

    okay i agree that they were kinda wack. EXCEPT for the first song. fader, please please post the video from the first song they performed! i found the track online, but it doesn’t have long blonde haired dude rhyming… when he switched from MC to drummer, that’s when whatever vibe that was mildly present totally disappeared. seriously. if you were there, you could tell. you didn’t expect that kid to start rhyming and then he dropped that bitch you alone line and we were like yeaaaaah. it was lazy stoner rapping. and the crowd was kinda digging it. then they switched roles and the buzz died. yeah… they had an interesting group dynamic.