Last year’s Indie Pop Prom, in honor of Maria Sherman’s birthday, found boys in bowties and girls in pastel dresses boogieing to the likes of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Swearin’, Waxahatchee, Potty Mouth, and Weed Hounds. Although this year the location changed from the now-shuttered 285 Kent to the significantly cleaner Baby’s All Right, the hype surrounding the hopefully annual party remained as intoxicating as Sherman’s homemade prom punch. The stellar lineup this year included Friendless Bummer, Pity Sex, Places To Hide, Radiator Hospital, a reunion from Bad Banana (Allison and Katie Crutchfield’s defunct side project), and the mysterious secret guest, Traitor Bitches. By the time of my arrival, it was still unclear what percentage of the audience had figured out that the secret guest was Perfect Pussy, but the room’s energy skyrocketed when the group took the stage. The combination of a Bad Banana reunion, a much-craved appearance from Atlanta’s Places To Hide, and a generally terrific bill made for a memorable night—one more memorable than our own adolescent proms.
To be sure, I spoke to members of each band about their high school prom experiences, and while the verdict is out on whether Matthew McConaughey would be the perfect date, most would agree: the entire evening at Baby’s All Right topped our pressure-filled high school dances by a very considerable margin.
(L to R: Spike Anderson, Sam Sodomsky, Ben Bondy)
Did you go to your high school prom?
Ben Bondy: I went to a dance I think my junior year. I wore a white tuxedo and it went really badly. But I didn’t go to my prom, no. But this makes up for it! This is like the freak prom that I always wanted.
Maybe most of these people didn't actually go to prom so they're making up for it right now.
Bondy: Yeah, this is the freak prom that we all dreamed of.
How did you guys form?
Bondy: We're all studying the same major, we're all music majors at Syracuse. We all just studied music so we decided to make a band and play together. It was just us three and it still is us three. We thought about adding a bassist, but it just didn't work out ever, it just was the only way I felt comfortable playing music.
How did the name come about?
Bondy: When we first started, we were playing really surfy garage stuff. It was our first show and we desperately needed a name to play for it, so it was kind of a joke that was going to be for the first show but we kept with it.
Who would be your dream prom date?
Bondy: Alec Baldwin.
Sam Sodomsky: Maybe Aubrey Plaza.
(L to R: Brandan Pierce, Brennan Greaves, Sean St. Charles, Britty Drake)
Did you go to prom?
Brennan Greaves: I went to prom twice actually, in junior and senior year.
What did you wear?
Greaves: I wore a suit and a leopard print tie. I thought it was very cool and it really wasn't. I had actually fractured my heel so I was wearing a giant airboot on my foot the entire night.
What is your favorite prom movie scene?
Greaves: My favorite romance movie is Wet Hot American Summer. There's a lot of romance! There isn't really a prom moment, but there are similar moments.
How was playing tonight?
Greaves: It's been great. This was an excellent reason to throw a show and we've had a blast.
Places To Hide
(L to R: Kyle Swick, Steve Valero, Deborah Hudson; Not pictured: Gavin Caffrey)
How did you guys form?
Deborah Hudson: Kyle and I formed an acoustic duo in 2010 and we've just been going through a rotation of band members for a little while. Steve is our bass player and Gavin is our drummer and they're like the second bass player and drummer that we've had now.
Kyle Swick: Yeah, but they're pretty permanent. This is our lineup now.
You are based in Atlanta. How did you end up playing at Indie Pop Prom?
Swick: Our friend Maria Sherman asked us to. I still don’t know why, but she likes our band I guess.
Hudson: We did a phone interview with her for a site that she was launching and when we did the interview she asked us to play the show.
Have you played in New York before?
Swick: Yeah! We played a show in Brooklyn once.
How was the drive up?
Hudson: We split it between Atlanta and Arlington, Virginia, and then we stayed in Baltimore last night. We played a show in Arlington. So it wasn't so bad, it was good. It was a lot of sleeping .
Tell me about the Atlanta music scene.
Swick: It's really good right now. There are a couple of really, really great bands and there's really cool shit happening. There's a really cool all-ages scene right now.
What are some of the bands?
Swick: There's a band called Bodyfather, a band called The Hotels, Burners, Twin Studies. Our drummer is in a band called Jebediah Springfield and our bass player is in a band called Sunday Whiskey. They’re all awesome.
Did you go to your prom?
Hudson: Yeah, I went to my prom. I went to both proms, junior and senior year. I asked Kyle to my senior prom and he said no. So I went with my friend Chris.
Steve Valero: I did go to prom, it was pretty uneventful. It was not a stellar time.
Swick: I never went to prom. My senior year, me and my high school girlfriend told our parents we were going to prom and we went to Outback Steakhouse and we stayed at a Red Roof Inn and it was amazing.
Who is your dream prom date?
Hudson: Matthew McConaughey.
Valero: Me too. I'll go McConaughey as well.
Swick: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Matthew McConaughey.
What is the best romantic slow dance song?
Hudson: Enrique Iglesias’s “Hero.”
Swick: I’m gonna say, well, it's not a slow jam, it's kind of a slow jam, but “Dancing In the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen.
(L to R: Katie Crutchfield, Allison Crutchfield)
Did you go to prom?
Katie Crutchfield: We did! We went sophomore and junior year, neither of us went senior year.
Who would be your dream prom date?
Allison Crutchfield: Well, I have a boyfriend so probably him if I knew him in high school.
K. Crutchfield: I like Andrew McCarthy, I think he would be a good prom date.
A. Crutchfield: You know who is my weirdest celebrity crush? Simon Pegg! Simon Pegg would be a great prom date. He's so funny!
K. Crutchfield: Mike Watt would be my dream prom date, the bassist from the Minutemen. He is just a total babe.
You both played last year, as Waxahatchee and Swearin’. What led to the decision to reunite Bad Banana?
K. Crutchfield: Maria was really sweet, she was like, “I want to do this annually and I want to include you guys for as long as you guys want to be included.”
So you have to keep creating new bands.
K. Crutchfield: She asked if P.S. Eliot, our old band wanted to do it, or Great Thunder, my other band, and we were like, “Let’s just do this, this will be really fun for us.”
(L to R: Jon Rybicki, Cynthia Schemmer, Jeff Bolt, Sam Cook-Parrot)
Did you guys go to your high school prom?
Sam Cook-Parrot: Yes, I did! I rode my bike to my senior prom, it was fun. I was the junior prom prince at my junior prom. That's the headline.
Jon Rybicki: I went to my prom, I borrowed a car from my dad's funeral home. Nothing really happened, I barely remember it but I do remember dancing with one of the younger teachers, Mrs. Presley. I saw her in a Starbucks later on, the summer after I graduated, and she said, “Hey, call me Liz,” and gave me her email, but nothing ever happened with me and Mrs. Presley. I remember I took out a flask in the bathroom stall, which was very uncharacteristic of me, but I wanted to do it because I felt like I was in a John Hughes movie or something.
Cynthia Schemmer: Well, I didn’t have any friends my senior year because I got into punk and feminism so they all ditched me. So I had to go to prom with my high school boyfriend with people that I wasn’t really friends with, it was really awkward. We went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show in Manhattan afterward, and then I brought my high school boyfriend back to my parents’ house. We had sex for the first time, and I felt so guilty that I told my mom the next morning.
Did you go to prom?
Graves: I did. My best friend and I were involved loosely in a senior prank that got us in trouble even though it was totally harmless. I brought my bike into school and we rode it down the hallway, yelling. There was this math teacher who was absolutely foul who chased us down the hall and got us in trouble. We didn’t think we were going to get to prom and it's a long story, but we decided to go two days before. I ended up getting a dress, getting it altered, which is funny because I’m a tailor and for the last two years I've been doing nothing but altering prom dresses for a living. I live in prom. I know more about prom than any fucking human being in the planet because I have worked for the last four years at a store that sells prom dresses.
What are the popular prom trends?
Graves: There are so many. When I first started working at the store where I work, which is mostly a prom store, there were dresses with cut-outs, satin was really big, and then it went out of vogue, and then everyone was into stretch jersey. Last year it was pastel, lots of mint, lots of peach. But the one thing that manages to never go out of style, no matter how played out it ism are the big poofy dresses. There's a prom guide Top Ten and we're in it every year. There's a registry in our store, so from Boston down to Baltimore, no two girls that buy dresses at our store will go to the same dance in the same dress. I was the only alterationist on staff for four years! I have hemmed hundreds of prom dresses. Most of the people I've sewn for in the last four years have been teenage girls.
You're doing something special for what is stereotypically supposed to be either the best or worst night of their high school careers.
Graves: And it was for me, too, because I went with my best friend. We weren’t gonna go because we were bad kids, but we decided to go two days before. We got in a fight and we left after twenty minutes. And he's still my best friend after ten years.
What would be your dream dance song?
Graves: A slow jam or a fast jam?
I think slow jams are really awkward.
Graves: Well, this is “Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates, and that's a really good jam. I know every word to this song, so I would say that. “Too Close” by Next, late 90s r&b jams about awkward erections. But my favorite karaoke jam would be my ultimate prom song which is “Rock with Me” by Michael Jackson. And at my dream prom as a 26-year-old, I would probably want to hear Arthur Russell.
How did you decide to put blood in the new vinyl?
Graves: It was effectively a dare. I posited it as an arbitrary idea. I was pushed to come up with something that was a luxury item for the very idea of doing a special edition of the record. I kept giving these ideas out and the general consensus was “We can do that for every record, you're not dreaming big enough,” and to me the ultimate idea of a luxury item was my body. So I said, “Fuck it I'll just put my blood in the record,” and it was a joke.
At the time, we hadn't agreed to do the record with our label, I was just talking to the guy who runs it on the phone, and he said the blood was a really good idea. And that's when I was like 1) We will do the record on this label because this guy is going along with my crazy idea and 2) Fuck, now I have to do it because I said I was going to do it. I didn't give blood, I don’t have health insurance, so I used my period blood. I use a diva cup, so I just kept it.
I was in Montreal, our van broke down the last week of our tour, and I was staying with my ex-boyfriend in Montreal with a bunch of his friends and we were having such a wonderful time. I was carrying a jar of my menstrual blood in around my bag. We've been referring to is as “The Reaping” or “The Blood Harvest.” The blood harvest lasted for four days and then I was like, “Fuck this, I’m so bored, I’ve been carrying around a jar of my blood for days.” It's that personal of a record though. We recorded it in November, and at this point it's like, I have a lot of friends in the last year who have gotten pregnant, and when you find out you're pregnant and you go to the doctor and you're like, “Oh my god I’m pregnant what do I do?” they guess how far along you are. My high school best friend is pregnant and she thought she was nine months ready to burst and her due date was like two and a half weeks ago and they had no idea how pregnant she was, and so she's been standing around being like, “Oh my fucking god, why am I still pregnant?”
And right now? I am in the death throes of “Why am I still pregnant?” We recorded this album in November, can it just come out already?!