More Culture:

June 22, 2016

10 times Quasi made me feel okay about the pointlessness of life

Music Rock
Quasi Kill Rock Stars/for PhillyVoice


Say you’re on a sinking ship.

People are freaking out. Fighting for floaties.

Jumping overboard.

Shoving each other aside for a glimpse of a chance of a spot on a lifeboat.

Now, in that moment, do you wanna hear some maudlin string quartet creaking out “Nearer My God to Three?” No. Trust me: You want Quasi. Nobody embraces the meaninglessness of existence like this Portland band (Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss, also of Sleater-Kinney), which is due to play Johnny Brenda's on Friday.

 In fact, they like to give you that “what was the point of this?” feeling for all occasions, not just when you’re looking death in the face. The lyrics concern themselves with the dumb every day we’re all slogging through. The trick, the spoonful of sugar that makes the existential medicine go down, is their pretty, pounding, generally upbeat music. It’s rock ’n’ roll, often catchy and showy, sometimes straight-up glorious. And just about every word of it reminds you that you’re just some mindless zombie mouse in a maze with no cheese.

Anyway. Listen to these songs or don’t.:

1. “California”

“Life is dull life is gray,

at its best, it's just okay

but I'm happy to report

life is also short.”

(from ‘Featuring “Birds,’” 1998)

2. “Smile”

“Common as the cold

up for sale, never sold

getting older and it shows;

your disappointment only grows

and no one seems to care

that you never got your share

who said life was fair?

so smile — it's not so bad”

(from ‘Field Studies,’ 1999)

3. “The Happy Prole”

“You need the money so you got to play it dumb

but if you play it long enough it's just what you become

pay your rent, pay your bills, pay the doctor for your pills

so you can work another day

as life slips away”

(from ‘Featuring “Birds,’” 1998)

4. “A Case of No Way Out”

“Days roll past,

any one might be your last

as you run at your fleeting dreams”

(from ‘Sword of God,’ 2001)

5. “Sea Shanty” 

“Work and slave and skimp and save 

and you can buy yourself a bigger cage”

(from ‘Featuring “Birds,’” 1998)

6. “Mama Tried”

“You give and you take

and I do the same 

it’s no game

it’s just the way it is

when you're invisible.”

(from ‘Hot Sh--!,’ 2003)

7. “Death Culture Blues”

“Highest hill to lowest pit

if you ain't got love you ain't got sh--

cause it’s your life to live or to lose

I'm tired of singing the death culture blues.”

(from ‘When the Going Gets Dark,’ 2006)

8. “R.I.P.”

"So long stuck in the sand on the shores of oblivion

now you're free

drifting out to sea

baby R.I.P."

(from ‘Mole City,’ 2013)

9. “Nothing from Nothing”

"You can be so heartless; I can be heartless too

and we can wound each other — isn't that what people do?

you can't be betrayed when there's nothing to betray

you can't throw it all away

when there's nothing there anyway

nothing from nothing leaves nothing."

(from ‘Featuring “Birds,’” 1998)

10. “My Coffin”

“I'm fixing up my coffin

where one day I will lie

I can hardly wait until

the day when I should die”

(from ‘R&B Transmogrification,’ 1997)

11. “You F---ed Yourself”

“You f---ed yourself and you're looking for the goat

drowned if you sink, condemned if you float

you placed the blame but missed the boat”

(from ‘Featuring “Birds,’” 1998)

12. “Ballad of a Mechanical Man”

“A machine came knocking at my door 

lost & alone; hungry for oil 

I could see he wouldn't get too far 

shape of a man; soul of a car 

soon we'll all be dead. 

it makes me feel so comfortable”

(from ‘R&B Transmogrification,’ 1997)

Oh I did 12 instead of 10. Whatever. 


With Saqqara Mattabas
Friday, June 24
Doors 8 p.m., show 9:15 p.m. / $17
Johnny Brenda's
1201 N. Frankford Ave.