No Age @ The Getty

June 29, 2008

I hope some of you got some use out of that event notification and got there on time. Getting up the hill took quite a while but it was totally worth it. These museum concerts have been great so far and it’s been nice to take in the great summer weather. If you haven’t already you should check out the Hammer and Getty’s schedules.

I was really impressed by how down to earth No Age was considering all the hype surrounding them these days. The show was small enough that they could hear what the crowd was saying and joked back and forth. Another plus was that they got instant feedback on the sound and could adjust things based on what the crowd was yelling like “more vocals.” This could quite possibly been the most democratic sound mix ever.

No age consists of Randy Randall and Dean Allen Spunt formerly of Wives. The last Wives album was pretty rough so I expected a pretty crazy show; but, while No Age still employs some reckless use of sound they were much more polished than I expected. Spunt’s vocals were great and he’s transitioned from his old barking delivery to his new smoother style with ease. Those guys can still really make some noise though, and the intensity dovetailed perfectly with the evening. Randall played his guitar with his mic stand and played through the broken string that followed, they played a great Urinal’s cover, fun was had by all. The pictures I took can’t really convey how great the noise was that was coming out of those speakers but I’m going to post a few anyways.

It was a really beautiful evening and everyone there was very cool to everyone else and the band seemed to really appreciate it. Randall commented that it was an overwhelming event and thanked everyone for coming out and being overwhelmed with them.

You can check out the new video for eraser here

http://www.mtv.com/overdrive/?artist=2542022&vid=251747

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Be Your Own Pet @ The Wiltern

June 28, 2008

I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen a couple walking down the street and wondered, “How the hell did that happen?” Maybe one’s way hotter than the other, maybe one’s dressed like a cowboy while the other looks like an attorney. Whatever it is, something just doesn’t add up. As I looked at the Nylon Tour’s bill the other day (Switches, The Virgins, Be Your Own Pet, She Wants Revenge) I couldn’t help but think, How the hell did that happen?

I have a theory. Kind of. My theory is that it was Be Your Own Pet’s non-fault. There aren’t many bands around that Be Your Own Pet could go out with that wouldn’t illicit a double take from me. (previous tour-mates The Black Lips were a pretty brilliant choice though) One of the reasons that BYOP has become so successful is because they are hard to pin down. They appeal to a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons. This is also generally the most frequent reason they get hated on. It’s hard for me not to see a parallel between the type of mass appeal BYOP has achieved and what today’s politicians are aiming for. There is one very important difference though. While a politician intentionally baby proofs their image, smoothing out any possibly controversial rough edges through compromise, most of BYOP’s image is either due to happenstance or the result of what other people have projected onto them.

Teenage girls flock to their shows and hold up spunky frontwoman Jemina Pearl as a role model so they have to find other bands that girls can listen to without being threatening to boys. Their songs aren’t about dying children or underpaid laborers so they can’t tour with hardcore bands. They’re fashionable so people cry hipster fad. Whoever designed this tour probably took all of these factors into account; which, really, are entirely irrelevant. Because at the end of the day what you’re going to have is the actual set and it isn’t going to be anything like what the crowd is ready for.

I just thought of who BYOP would be in my village people mismatch scenario. They’d be a lightweight prize boxer. They were introduced just like boxers, one member at a time before their set. (I love it when the world bends to fit my analogies) Once that set started it was on. The band went into full pummel mode and were hitting me right and left. John Eatherly’s sticks were just a blur, Nathan Vasquez was launching himself as high as possible with his bass while Jonas Stein favored some sort of airborn bicycle kick maneuver. All the while Jemina Pearl was convulse-dancing, sometimes in a way that made me wonder if she’d seen Rize. By the end of the set I was pretty sure all that shaking was going to make her throw up right then and there, and it looked like she might have actively been trying to for a minute but she held it together and just hocked some major lugies saying, “Eww” in probably the cutest voice I have ever heard. For the most part though, cute moments were few and far between. Live, BYOP played their songs faster and with more ferocity than the record would make you think. Much of the playfulness in Pearl’s tone on the record was translated into yelling or sultriness. Be Your Own Pet’s songs keep a pretty good balance between childish fun and reckless destruction. The whole BYOP aesthetic can be summed up from two lines in “Black Hole” “Eating pizza is really great!/ So is destroying everything you hate!” Their live show leans much farther to the latter side and when you’ve just seen two pop bands you can get a little confused. From what I could see the crowd was barely moving. Even when Vasquez launched himself so high that he flew right out of his pants (and underwear) and kept playing ‘til the end of the song, I didn’t see any type of audience reaction.


Event Notification: Rumspringa @ The Echo

June 27, 2008

Rumspringa is ending their residency at the Echo this coming Monday (the 30th) The show is free for 21+ and 7 dollars 18-20. I’ve been going to this and its been a blast. The lineup is so far posted as

1921a
Slang Chickens
Rumspringa
The Amazements

I missed last week’s show but I heard they played a new song. They’ve promised to play another new one this weekand I don’t doubt that there will plenty of other great bonuses to make this a blowout. Starts at 8.

check out their myspace to stream a bunch of their songs.

rumspringa


Short Notice: An Event Notification. No Age @ The Getty

June 26, 2008

No Age will be playing a FREE show at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles Friday June 27th at 7 P.M. as a part of the Getty’s ongoing Friday’s off the 405 series of events. Its put together in part by the wonderful kcrw radio station out here.

You can read more about this particular event here.

J Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles CA 90049


Autolux @ Make Music Pasadena

June 24, 2008

Most people will agree that one of the worst things about outdoor festivals is that they are inevitably hotter than if you held a concert inside an old fashioned kiln. I’d have to say that the worst thing is that the sound generally sucks. As it was, the 100+ degree weather turned out in my favor as it sent a large portion of the crowd seeking sweet shady refuge from the sun’s rays and let me get closer than I’d hoped to the speakers; which were pushing out a pretty fine mix. After I made myself a newspaper visor I was good to go.

Like my improvised headgear, Autolux represents a synthesis of technology and ingenuity that results in some pretty nifty things; albeit on a much larger, and way cooler, scale. I like to think of Autolux as two opposing forces that have collided and been fused together seamlessly. They are a band of contradictions that have somehow been resolved. The most obvious example of this quality would be the way that they fit their noise together with their pop sensibilities. At this point, I have to conclude that Autolux can produce any sound they want from their instruments: from back-arching wails, to gentle warbles, to ominous grinds that imply an epic scale. Pyramids big. All of the tools at their disposal would mean nothing though without their imaginative organization.

Every element within the songs I heard Saturday afternoon was immediately dependent on every other element at work. Whether it was a noise intro that slowly morphed into a pulse-turned-melody or a sudden blizzard of feedback that cut through a placid veneer, every part was included with an understanding of the whole. Where Autolux really shined though was not just in creating a dry juxtaposition of noise and pop by filling their songs with genre specific islands, but by creating enough subtle shifts and overlaps that I couldn’t tell which was which. The emphasis within the songs flowed seamlessly back and forth between the percussion and the strings so that at any point a different member could be driving a song or creating a rhythm for the audience to hold on to while the rest of the band added flourishes on top of it.

Autolux songs sound as though they were written by adventurers that never make any mistakes. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been waiting so long for their next album, Transit Transit. I imagine one would have to travel very slowly if he or she were to adventure without error. Their painstaking attention to detail (this is the same band that built their own lights after all) makes for some great shows, but it’s also the reason I had to wait for them to stop by to hear any new material. My anticipation level for the next album has spiked. The new songs maintained material’s the organizational soul while magnifying the elements. The abstract elements seem to have gotten quite a shot in the arm with more frequent noise freakouts that manage to capture and even greater sense of urgency. I was particularly struck by Carla Azar’s drumming, which has evolved quite a bit as well. I felt uncoordinated just looking at her. With the exception of “Audience No. 2” the percussion served less of a conventional rhythmic capacity and Azar got a chance to really brake out of her grooves and add some impressive barrages of sound that showcased her ability for complex parts.

*gasp* end gush.

—-

This is a little blurb i wrote to illustrate the same type of conciliatory style in their live performance that I didn’t know how to work in but still like enough that I want to do something with. I think the names could catch on, especially with the popularity of guitar hero and rock band turning everyone into a rockstar. They’re going to need a common terminology.

There are two distinct types of feedback production. On the one hand there is the “Flail of Abandon,” in which the artist knows that there should be some type of feedback coming in the general area of the song and is satisfied if his careening produces some sort of noise during that time. Then, there is the “Tweaker” (cousin of the “Knob Twiddler”) who stands calmly in front of his amp making minute modifications so as to exact feedback that is just right. Bassist Eugene Goreshter synthesized these methods and used a kind of controlled swing.


Things I Like: Infinite Horizon

June 22, 2008

This guy just realized he’s not getting any for 10 years

Although the series has been out for a little bit and picked up some good press (nominated for an Eisner in best new series among other things) I was kind of sleeping on this title and I feel like a lot of other people have been too. The biggest thing you should know about Infinite Horizon is that its a retelling of the Odyssey. This to me is interesting. Every time I hear that something is based on the Odyssey I can’t help but spend the bulk of my time with the material trying to recall all of those middle school classes about the original and compare it to whatever updated version I happen to be experiencing. What makes Infinite Horizon even more interesting to me is that they decided to condense this bagillion page classic into a 6 part comic book run. How in the world are they going to do this? So far, I’ve read the first three issues (put out by image comics) and they’re going at a brisk pace, to say the least, but are still hitting the major plot points.

There are though some major and potentially problematic differences. Some of them can be attributed to the fact that this is a modernization of the story and some things just aren’t going to work the same due to changes in social norms. The most obvious example would be the suitors. In today’s day and age a bunch of men moving into a woman’s house when her husband is lost in a war just isn’t going to read with the same authenticity as it does in an ancient setting. I’m not so sure about the solution though. Instead of having mooching suitors eating her out of house and home and competing for her affection as she does her best to preserve her honor, the Penelope character is a commanding woman who appears to be caught in some struggle between two factions of farmer’s who are competing for her water. (apparently she alone controls access to this powerful aphrodisiac.) I wonder what her analogous action to knitting will be in order to delay her “suitors'” unquenched thirst for water turning a thirst for blood.

Another change is the lack of the supernatural. This change though could lead to some interesting applications of artistic license as Duggan tries to create parallels through scientifically explicable lanes. And that twisting of the source material is really the most fun things about these kinds of projects to me. His vision of the cyclops for instance is a really big soldier in high tech armor that they guess is of Israeli or Russian origin. His sheep are really just prisoners that obey his command. I’m waiting to see how Circe turns everyone into pigs. The absence of divine intervention though means that some of the more complicated bits of intrigue and the switcheroo shapeshifting elements of the story are probably going to be cut, but that’s probably for the best when we consider the limited space Duggan has to work in.

Two changes in terms of character bother me though. 1. Telemachus becomes a little boy and the role is is given in the beginning of the Odyssey hasn’t been brought up yet. I don’t understand yet how he is going to be an effective force in dealing with the suitors; especially because he has been kidnapped which I don’t recall happening in the original. This new plot point puts a lot of pressure on the Penelope character who decides to take decisive action which seems out of character for her. That is emblematic of my only real problem with this series. This abridgment seems to have forced a sacrifice of cleverness on the part of the hero’s. The battle with the Cyclops was a little disappointing for me because it lacked the flair that Odysseus had in the original. Odysseus is the dude that thought up the Trojan horse right? He’s a crafty guy. I’d like to see more of that.

Overall though I find it interesting enough to keep reading and its a nice alternative to the big superhero comics. I’m liking Noto’s art a lot too.

Also, you might want to check out

House of Mystery (Vertigo) which is on its second issue right now and is co-written by Matthew Sturges and Bill Willingham.


Megapuss and Lauren Dukoff @ the Hammer

June 21, 2008

conservative dress

When I arrived at the Hammer at 8:30 Wednesday night I thought I’d be lucky to catch the opener but when I got out to the atrium all I saw were people milling about enjoying the nice L.A. weather. It felt more like a summer patio party than anything else. Which must have been all part of Megapuss’ ingenious plan. Megapuss spent the hour between the eight o clock start time and their set mingling with the crowd in full costume and ready to go so by the time they did leave whatever discussions they were having to walk the couple of feet to the stage I felt like I was hanging out and watching a friend’s show. Which, while not absolutely essential to the Megapuss experience, is incalculably important. So where was the opener? Whether or not this social hour signifies a different conception of a show’s beginning on Megapuss’ part or is just a result of the mechanics of a show at the hammer, this hour was effectively the opening act. I would like to think though, that Megapuss had a certain feeling they wanted to create. There just has to be some sort of preface to seeing five grown men wearing skirts made of inflatable penises over tights, safari gear, and a vest of a wookie-wildebeest hybrid creature. In this case there were two. The second was their formal introduction in which the crowd was informed that every song we’d be hearing had been written in under ten minutes. By my calculations, on the conservative side, Banhart should be releasing an album every week.

Because from what I could tell Megapuss is pretty much the people that bring us Devendra Banhart records. Megapuss has so far been billed as a Devendra Banhart/Greg Rogove joke project. But Rogove, who drums for Priestbird, is a member of Banhart’s band as are Noah Georgeson, who played a comically skinny red bass, and the drummer who I was unable to positively I.D. (later found out it was Fabrizio Moretti from the strokes) Aziz Ansari of Human Giant also appeared as a special guest. The thing is, for the amount of time that probably went into these songs they were really good. And in terms of the fun factor of the whole project, it was through the roof. That’s why I could almost believe the quote that naturalismo posted on his blog where Banhart says “to our surprise and shock, we started writing songs, and we’ve written eight songs that I’m really proud of and excited about. We’re gonna record a real record.” These guys probably play together enough that they could make songs in their sleep and the breezy folky sound that they have really suits that type of spontaneity. Even when the drummer took over the mic and forgot the words he was able to just ad lib some with with a bubbly beat and tie it all together with a “Shabop Shalom” before the “what it is” refrain without losing anything at all from the song. Every mistake was met with boyish grins from the rest of the band that added to the feeling that I was watching a group of children that had somehow landed in men’s bodies perform their ideal comedy album. Devendra’s “dick skirt” pretty much set the tone of the set. He stopped the first song in protest of his picture being on the projector because it was “just too creepy.” Throughout the starts and stops the band promised to keep playing a Tears For Fear cover until their demands were met. It was really quite charming and I discovered that Banhart has pretty good comedic timing. I should also mention that at this time Rogove was playing what looked to be a bow and arrow. The instrumentation was pretty standard for the most part though with the exception of “Surfin” which had a guest harpist and where Georgeson took a break from his bass duties to blow a mean conch shell. If I do say so “Surfin” is one of the finest re-creations of the feeling one gets floating on surf. And seeing Georgeson hold that conch up with pride was one of my favorite moments of the show. The top one would have to be when Georegeson’s bass got caught on Banhart’s skirt and he had to hold up on a song saying “wait, my bass is caught on your dick-skirt.” That’s just something I could never imagine hearing. Male genitalia seems to be Megapuss’s bread and butter. They were everywhere. On their persons, in their songs, animated onto the projector slides. At one point a very happy, and very naked, Banhart and Rogrove were animated to look like they were jumping on an off camera trampoline slowly coming into frame to reveal some prosthetic dongs. That’s not to say there weren’t some really touching moments. “Chicken Tits” was a great song to “hold your special someone” to and had an old doo-wop feel to it; quite soulful.

I realize this rambling but I’ve tried to write a review three different times and I just don’t think there’s any other way it could be. I think Megapuss would be pleased by that. Banhart said “we wrote alot of songs, these were the worst. Which is kind of the point of this band.” You try translating that type of show into a blog post. Here’s the setlist:

To the Love

Adam and Steve

Lavender Blimp

Duck People Duck Man

Mister Meat

Crop Circle Jerk 94

Chicken Tits

Surfin

Hollywood

Hamman

I’ll leave you with my favorite Human Giant video

*edit* many thanks to naturalismo I caught a couple of pretty big mistakes on here thanks to reading his entry.