John Maus @ Scala

 Maus in da house


The curious case of John Maus...  
A primitive animal with an acute mind. A experimental avant gardist with philosophical intelligence. An intellectual and a nut.
On recordings (Songs, Love Is Real, We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves), he'll appear rather tame. All humorous spirit and wise remarks, dressed up in vintage-style experimental synthpop. But nothing prepares you for the ferocious persona that cruises the stage.
This American beau soon turns into an American psycho, hollering, jumping and wandering barefoot in restless paranoia. Instead of a hello he welcomes us with a scream, which he keeps repeating throughout the set, releasing endless anger and frustration; all, it seems, a sonic portion of performance art, apart from unique personal expression, intended to provoke a reaction from the audience - any reaction.
Well, he succeeds, unfortunately. Unfortunately because his rather accessible bites of electronica (and, let's not kid ourselves, his cute looks) have earned him hipster status, popular among teenagers and twenty-somethings that just don't know how to handle such extremities.
Before I know it (and while thinking "hell yeah"), girls with a seemingly perpetual scream in their mouths shout out his name, picking up fights with anyone who tries to resist their mindlessness and crazy pushes; other easily impressionable boys imitate their hero in obviously unhealthy ways, cluelessly copying what they see. One of them even runs after Maus behind closed doors backstage. Is it John Maus, really, or a post modern Justin Bieber?
The sight was so unbearably witless I stopped enjoying it - helpless part of this teen hipster charade. I should start smacking somebody while I scream "Jooohnn" to my neighbour's ear to be on trend here (obviously they didn't care to listen to anything else - so long as they made their presence clear to the pretty boy in question). I remained cold while he played my favorite Rights For Gays and all the newer gems of We Must Become..., while he splashed himself with water and nearly tripped, kneeled and howled.
Maus plays an exceptionally short gig - and intense as hell. Fun indie rockers The Pheromoans (who had very interesting accessories on their heads, I must add) and synthpop noise-makers Peepholes didn't quite cover me. And one of the most stupid audiences I've seen in a while (yes you, you earned it) ruined what should've been the absolute peak.
So much for all his - musical and other - brilliance. Intelligence, I guess, is a two-way street...

Review and photography by Danai Molocha

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