Yo La Tengo collaborated with him; the late Kurt Cobain threw him all sorts of authenticity props; members of Sonic Youth rescued him on the streets of New York City during a psychological episode; Jeff Feuerzeig patched together a 2005 indie-film-circuit documentary about him. Bipolar and crushingly naive, 47-year-old Daniel Johnston is the sort of underground pop songwriter who's perpetually doomed to niche underground adoration—no matter how many new albums and best-of comps are issued or how many mainstream admirers (Beck, Kimya Dawson, Wilco, Pearl Jam, etc.) cover his tunes or insert them into films. His child-like flights of fancy and romantic distress signals come equipped with a precociously high-pitched, zig-zag-ouch singing style that brings to mind Half Japanese's Jad Fair—another minor countercultural figure soldiering valiantly on in the impassive face of total commercial indifference. Forget Ron Paul—Johnston needs and deserves your monetary vote; the dude lives with his parents in Texas. Let's all chip in and help save a career headed for footnote status, right below Eugene Kelly. 18+.
Fri., Feb. 8, 8 p.m., 2008