Anteater Eater: You Eat What You Are (What You Eat)

Anteater Eater [ Daniel Hubert]

Meet Victoria-based band Anteater Eater, who, according to contributor Brian Gross, is in the wake of (or for) metamodernism.

Near the end of 1989 when the only times I am aware of laughing (or at least pushing audible air through my nose) was when I was high, I bought a VHS porn tape that I later found featured a guy I’d tricked with a few times. I became about as obsessed as I could get at the time (like a teenager who goes on antidepressants becomes obsessed with suicide simply because the drugs render them functional enough to consider such things) with the idea that something meaningful could be rendered from his performance. When the straggle of (mostly-straight male) friends from high school visited my downfall from time to time, I’d pop the video on and tell them I wanted to write a paper about it. If nothing, I was cheap entertainment.

While I laugh all the time now, it is with the same low-grade obsession that I aim to introduce the Victoria, BC-based band Anteater Eater.

The pitter-patter of big concepts (of which I finally, in my mid-50s, feel I have a grasp) I want to present about Anteater Eater are decidedly too big for such a fledgling band. I could find one of each of the following online: EP, single, live performance, podcast feature (though by the time this is published, it looks like their first full-length may have gone live). To an extent, this is intentional on my part. I sought out a band to write about with fewer than 5,000 streams on Spotify for any song and fewer than 100 monthly listeners. This way, I can say whatever I want and not seem ignorant to anyone (or at least not seem ignorant to many) who might know better.

Let me get a few orientation details out of the way.  

First, the band name. Apparently, it was worked out by one of the band members on a bus with a friend. I imagine kind of like this: “How fucked up is that to be named after what you eat?” “Yeah, what if instead of ‘male,’ it was ‘pees standing’?” “No wonder gender makes no sense.” “What the fuck?” “If I pissed on you, I’d be ‘pees on pees standing.’” “I don’t pee standing.” “What?” “Really, I don’t.”

Second, a bit of alignment (or name-dropping). On my first listen, three bands came to mind: AJJ, Carseat Headrest, and Black Country, New Road (not in any order, though the comma in BCNR necessitated it come last or resort to semicolons). It may be a function of age (some of the band members have just finished high school), but while topic-wise and stylistically they cover much of the same ground, Anteater Eater lacks angsty gravitas, instead bopping around with alacrity, as you’d expect of a band thusly named. In this way, they might resemble an earlier project of the folks from Carseat Headrest, Skinny Teeth… but without the teeth (listen, you’ll see).

To me, this lack of teeth makes Anteater Eater part of a new vanguard or even a generational shift. Are they a spearhead of this shift, one of its best representatives, or do they just inhabit its wake? I don’t know enough to say, but I’ll use them as an example. Of what?

Some say that around 2010, postmodernism reached its peak (or nadir… of post-truth meaninglessness). Postmodernism was a reaction to earlier Modernism’s failure to deliver on its grand narratives (e.g. that science would solve all our problems). What comes after postmodernism lampoons everything that was supposed to make sense? Thankfully the laughable “Post-postmodernism” didn’t get much sunlight before the term “Metamodernism” was coined. The proponents of metamodernism identify its key quality as a concurrence of sincerity and irony. 

Many of metamodernism’s early adopters had a waking wet dream when Bo Burnham re-emerged (kind of) in May 2021 with Inside. Arguably, Father John Misty’s 2017 Pure Comedy laid the groundwork with his unflinching staring match with the depressing truth behind post-truth. Inside, as the title says, takes us inside instead of just looking at that truth. And as bracing and daring and intense as spending a couple of hours Inside can be, most people I know haven’t wanted to go back for seconds (unless they were pushing audible air through their noses while high).

What puts Anteater Eater in line with, but apart from the likes of Burnham and Misty? I’d argue they represent the arrival of a generation that didn’t give birth to (or think themselves into) metamodernism. They were born in it. Unlike earlier surviving generations, they have no parental pride about the daring act of staying submerged in the discomforts of modern life, gasping for air through the irony of a disintegratingly sincere paper straw. They aren’t going to try to tough it out to prove there might be something edifying about such torment. They’re cheap entertainment.

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Michael C. Duguay 
Saint Maybe