No. 49: Extra Golden at the Caledonia Lounge, June 2008

I made a “game time” decision to attend this show (I’m pretty sure a lady was involved), and I’m so glad I did. Athens can be a tough town to play, particularly on a Wednesday in the summertime. We tend to “breed our own stock here,” we’re a rock/pop town, and our townies (no offense, folks) are notoriously cheap. I expected this Kenyan/American benga band to be playing to ten people. I turned the corner into the club, and wow! A great crowd! Math rockers and indie poppers alike! And they were dancing. It was hard not to! The band was just killing it up there, all tumbling guitar lines, liquid drums, and sing-alongs.


Though benga itself is a bit of a pastiche, I doubt that many in the audience had much of a frame of reference for what they were hearing. That’s a testament to the effortless stage presence of the Extra Golden fellas and the veritable Good Vibe Factory they created that night. They could have played for an extra two hours if need be, and nobody would have complained. I saw this unlikely multi-culti outfit perform a similar feat at the Pitchfork Music Festival a month later (right after seeing faux-Afro-poppers Vampire Weekend!), but that night at the Caledonia was the real jam.

Extra Golden [official site]
“Obama” [YouTube]
80 ’08 (and Heartbreak)

  • Lucas Jensen

    I must also say that the Caledonia played host to a bunch of wonderful shows this year, including a wonderful one from Megafaun, one of many fabulous shows of theirs I saw this year.

  • Lucas Jensen

    @Lucas Jensen: Everything is wonderful and fabulous.

  • baconfat

    Extra Golden also tore it up at the Pitchfork Festival this summer — ’twas great to see the recent-bearer-of-twins (as in 8 days prior) Bettina Richards of Thrill Jockey getting down on the grass in front of the stage during their set.

  • anumberofnames

    Alex Minoff is the most underrated guitarist in America. That he’s been playing his ass off for 10+ years and has earned a tiny fraction of the acclaim and money heaped upon Vampire Weekend is criminal. I hope that slow and steady may win the race, though.

  • Lucas Jensen

    @anumberofnames: Agreed!

  • Luke N Atmaguchi

    Village Voice Critics Poll 1980: #3, Talking Heads, “Speaking in Tongues.” Poll 1982: #4, King Sunny Ade and His African Beats, “Juju Music.”

    A led to B, I lived it. Vampire Weekend ain’t Talking Heads, but I’m dying to see what their “faux” might besteaux. And please, discard the notion that they’re snatching pie-slices from the mouth of Extra Golden. Conceptualize: bigger pie . . .


  • anumberofnames

    I’m not suggesting that Vampire Weekend is somehow stealing business from Golden/Extra Golden, but I am curious what’s happened in the approximate six years between the last Golden record and the Vampire Weekend phenomenon. It’s not as if there’s been a wholesale purge of the rock critics who (at best) completely ignored Golden’s output, nor is it possible to qualifiedly state that Vampire Weekend is simply a better band (though one could make the case that the members of Golden/Extra Golden are vastly superior musicians). I recall hearing that Thrill Jockey was reluctant to fund the release of the last Golden album because they thought no one would be interested in an album of Oberlin guys doing benga, and (caution, anecdotal evidence ahead) I also remember hearing from members of Golden’s peer bands that they found the concept of these guys doing African music borderline offensive (though I think that’s absurd). So how did a superficially similar band like Vampire Weekend become a bankable commodity?