Indie rock has long had a place on Comedy Central's satirical right wing broadcast the Colbert Report--from Stephen Colbert's challenging the Decemberists to a green-screen guitar shred-off to having Vampire Weekend battle the Black Keys for Grammy and commercial licensing supremacy (always with the fighting, Stephen). But last night, on a show whose guest was indie violinist Andrew Bird, Colbert gave a shout out to the folks who really make rock'n'roll happen--not the rock stars, but the critics, the academics, and the down and out NERDS of the EMP Pop Conference. As the man says, the Pop Conference is "a weekend-long music festival in the tradition of Woodstock and Coachella, but instead of jammin' to your favorite band, you're jammin' to a series of panel discussions and presentations of scholarly papers! You know their motto: less rock, more talk!"
This year is also the second that the Conference has taken place not in Seattle at its namesake Experience Music Project but rotated between here and other cities. Last year, it went down at UCLA, and this time it's at NYU. Clearly, the move out of our provincial backwater has raised the conference's profile, but it's a little bittersweet. (The Conference is set rotate back to Seattle for its 2013 edition.) Being a huge music nerd, I highly recommend the EMP Pop Conference, but it is undeniably funny to hear Colbert deadpan the ungainly names of a few of those academic abstracts. Also, as has been pointed out, Colbert's "rejected" paper--"Self Love in an Elevator: Apollonian Images of Hedonism, Eroticism, and the Mechanized Urban Landscape in Post-Comeback Aerosmith"--actually sounds pretty killer. You can watch the whole episode here.