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Outernational at Origami Vinyl, Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Arrived at Origami Vinyl way before the band, as it has happened many times (musicians are never on time), I had the longest discussion of my life with someone who wanted to convert me to communism. He insisted, I had to buy his newspaper, and he embarked me into a conversation about Mao, socialist revolution and ways to change the world. It was unexpected, he was pushing so much his political views in a middle of a record store, after all I was just there to see the New York band Outernational who was about to play an acoustic set! But yes, I should have known, these guys have been writing songs with strong revolutionary and human rights themes, and are reputed for their political activism,… they also appear in his newspaper, he showed me, as they are supporters of the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

I said to the guy with the newspaper I was a total pessimistic regarding all this and that communism was obviously not a solution but a total failure, ‘We can build from our mistakes’ he told me. Yeah some real utopists, but likable ones, and the music was real good.
Frontman singer Miles Solay’s charisma could totally be due to a vague resemblance to a young Bruce Springsteen, a revolutionary attitude à la Joe Strummer and a Shane McGowan delivery when he sings.

With 2 guitars played by Leo Mintek and Jesse Williams, an accordion alternating with a trumpet played by Dr. Blum, and Miles’ strong vocals (he did not use a mic, even in the street!) their protest songs were certainly drawing their influences from the Pogues, the Clash and  Gogol Bordello.

They wanted to start their set on the sidewalk, as they do in Greenwich Village, and after a few songs, they continued playing inside the store, preferring to be close to the people and not climbing the stairs up to the mezzanine as it is usually the case for the bands playing at Origami.

I could easily imagine a different sound for the next night, as they did open for Viza at the Troubadour, but the acoustic setting was totally enjoyable and real.

Before a song, Miles Solay talked about Clarence Clemons, who just died at 69, and one of their heroes, but there was little talk about communism, beside mentioning the sad death of Alejandro del Fuego, a young revolutionary communist who had presented a powerful statement during an event in NYC last April just before Outernational performed.

But the great news is their new record, as they proudly announced it, made possible by an online fundraising and ‘local hero’ Tom Morello who is producing it.

During their set, the energy was palpable, their drive was real and their in-your-face rebellious tunes were making people clap their hands and tap their feet.

‘See you tomorrow at the Troubadour’ said Solay before ending the show, ‘Come to see Chad Smith destroy a drum set’… Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Yes, he is playing with them, these guys sure know how to surround themselves. May be I should convert to communism after all.

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