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Lightspeed Champion: Show Review (Union Pool, Brooklyn)

Lightspeed Champion

The last time I saw Devonte Hynes, currently the one-man indie-folk band called Lightspeed Champion, was in November 2005, when his band at the time, Test Icicles, played the Cake Shop in New York. Test Icicles' music was varied -- noise, pop-punk, pop -- and the band broke up after releasing its debut, For Screening Purposes Only, in 2006. Hynes struck out on his own, but many things remain the same. Small venue? Check. Gaudy eyeglasses? Check. Strange attire? Check. Acoustic guitar? WTF?

There’s something empty about a musician’s style shifting radically and quickly. And it often leads to ridicule. Sam Endicott, for example, frontman for the Interpol-aping band the Bravery, was mocked when people found out he sported dreads in a ska band called Skabba the Hut.


Before a sold-out crowd on March 8 at Union Pool, the crimson-lit stage was like Hynes’s own personal judgment day. The man who previously flaunted hot pink while screeching out was playing the softer-sounding tracks off his Lightspeed Champion debut, Falling off the Lavender Bridge (Domino). This was one of a handful of acoustic shows Lightspeed had scheduled, and it's where I really would have expected him to prove that he was more than just a Saddle Creek product.


“Nice hat,” shouted one fan to the shoulder-shrugging Hynes, who dutifully pushed up his glasses and smiled. It wasn’t a “Fuck you,” and it wasn’t the same juvenile Hynes. It was a mature, older, wiser facade of the thrash-metal guitarist.

Songs like “Happy Birthday,” “Galaxy of the Lost,” and “No Surprise” rolled effortlessly off the production line. Similar and vague, there was something divorced of Hynes’s music. When seeing the Test Icicles, you knew you were watching a bunch of kids fucking around. When seeing Lightspeed, it’s like watching your friend’s dad succumb to a midlife crisis as he tries to get his old band back together.


Lightspeed’s cover of the Strokes’ “Heart in a Cage” was the only thing that didn’t feel entrapping and forced about the show. The song “Everyone I Know Is Listening to Crunk” was so silent and hollow that I wrote my own lyrics to the melody: “Everything Dev says between song breaks is about South by Southwest.”

His hit single, “Tell Me What It’s Worth,” raised the question: What’s it worth to jump to a different ship? Is integrity lost? Does cash rule everything around me?

I guess we’ll have to cross that lavender bridge when we get to it.


Band: http://www.lightspeedchampion.com

Label: http://www.dominorecordco.us

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/lightspeedchampion

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Lightspeed Champion

We know he's not in Test Icicles anymore and we know the music is very different. We know Lightspeed Champion produces a different atmosphere to what Test Icicles did. Two things so different...and yet it seems most of the review is based on camparison.


when 'lavender bridge' wins the mercury prize and you re-listen to Midnight surprise without that same old 'indie' blocking your ears im sure you'l change your views
you Test Icle


how have you managed to end up writing music reviews?!
you shouldnt be forced to stick to one genre just because thats how the music you used to create sounded, and if he had decided to make similar music would you have written in this review that it is pathetic he is attempting to copy the music he made back before test icicles split?
this is him solo so why compare it to the days when he was in a band. its a completely different project.


this Nicolas Millan guy seems like quite the dick.
i am ashamed to have such a similar first name.


Please shut up.


A friend's father's mid-life crisis? Sorry, that just doesn't make logical sense - not even in the context of your own review. Mid-life crisises imply forgoing maturity and responsibility in order to regain a lost youth, lost irresponsibility and a lost life of leisure. But Dev is doing the opposite - a fact which you harp on relentlessly in your article, so there is no excuse for missing this flagrant inconsistency.

Also, the crux of your article seems to be that people change or select musical identities according to whatever will make the most money. In this case then, it surely makes no sense that a member of Test Icicles, instigators of a revolution and gods of a generation, would turn his back on such a trendy scene in order to create personal folk music.

So you're angry about the implosion of Test Icicles, or you don't understand changes in style. Perhaps you don't understand that people don't always stake their personal identities on the kind of music they like. Fine. Your issues are your own, but they shouldn't interfere with your ability to discern great music, or to at least competently write about why you believe the music is a scourge on the world.


You're a dick. Dev is an awesome person and people dont give him the regonition he needs.

And for crying out loud stop banging on about Test Icicles. That was then, this is now.


I guess everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinion.

My opinion is that there is no use for music critics these days cos we can think for ourselves.


wow maybe this guy should get a life and stop trying to critique music when he has no clue what he's talking about.


Dev was in Test Icicles, was he? I DIDN'T KNOW THAT TILL YOU TOLD ME! God forbid the man should do something else, or that he should be interested in more than one kind of music.

Do you enjoy music or just pretend so you can have a job?



The person that wrote this is a massive prick. Cos if he can't recognise how much of a genius Devonte Hynes is, then u clearly can't hear good music when u do hear it. Just because his new project, Lightspeed Champion, is completely different from the teen-fuelled, grot-rock noise of test icicles you should not critisise him, instead u should applaud him for coming back to the fickle, shallow music business with a brave new sound. If only more musician had the integrity and courage of Dev, He is a true genius in every sense of the word.

To round this off I'm just going to say that Nicolas Millan should shut the hell up and never talk about music again because he just doesn't have a clue.

Nicolas Millan is a twat

LOL @ the comments. I appreciate the feedback guys but -- as you've all been saying -- this is just one person's opinion.


Nick Millan

the test icicles were poo anyway. thank god for those evil folks at saddle creek for helping a retard learn how to perform properly and not wank off on thinking its cool to play out of time and like you nickolas millan - your mother would be proud if you could write a decent review instead of giving me the impression dev is some kind of sellout - oh what a pity he'll be making all that money and getting all that pussy and all you'll get is your mom handing you a doggybag full of mom juice so you have something to suck while writing your bullpoo in high school. you indie wank peddling spastic!


this is the dumbest review ive ever read.

Well, I had just read the review and was about to comment but now that i have seen other peoples comments i dont think there is much left to say.

i hate to be a douche, but this review does suck.

Jimmy B

Ha. Reading those comments made me laugh. Lightspeed Champion is amazing though, this review may be written quite goodly(!) but it is kinda stupid. There was no need to compare it so much to Test Icicles. It's a completely different thing.


Review or personal judgment? Hmm....

Lightspeed does what he does incredibly well. Test is neither here nor there. It's like f'ing apples and watermelons, both are fruit this is true...but they have obvious differences in size, taste and overall appearance.

She Knows Me

Don't know Test Icicles, but Lightspeed Champion made a great album. It's nice the first time you listen to it and you don't gey sick of it after a while. what you want more?


i hope you fall over

nick millan you smell

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