The last ten days were nothing short of a marathon. And by marathon I don't mean a feat for the lean, fit, and firm of abs. I mean, in the spirit of Bay to Breakers, it was a lot of lousy beer and loud music and nearly naked men (I'm writing this at the close of Gay Pride, where I realized I'll never understand what's sexy about gay men bundling their twigs and berries into ensembles that resemble lumpy sacs of melting ice cubes). But I digress.
I loved Death From Above 1979 from the first time I heard them: a fierce Canadian bass/drums duo with the intensity of a heavy metal act and a disco-ish backbeat. Their songs are all quick, inhalant-style hits, and they get me pretty giddy. The bassist from DFA has a production/DJ side project with Al-P called MSTRKRFT. It's full-on techno-electro ear candy with a rock edge (i.e. laptops, headphones, and mustaches).
MSTKRFT got their start remixing a lot of the Vice roster among other acts, but I really dig their original material. Check their track "Easy Love" (there's a great video floating around online involving foxy females and frothy milkshakes). It's a bitchin' summer anthem.
Attendance at Mezzanine didn't make for the Dance Party USA I was hoping would happen, but I did appreciate the fans who gave the night their all nonetheless.
That weekend we hit "Frisco Disco" at Arrow Bar - which, of course, gets packed if there's a line for the bathroom. It's as loose as your average house party, only you get sent home at 2 am (but not before the DJ spun "Easy Love," oh yeah).
My competition in the photography department that night.
By Sunday it was time to get classy, which meant hitting the free concert series in Stern Grove. I can stomach almost any kind of music perched on a picnic blanket in the sunshine - even Aimee Mann (so long as I can talk through her whole set).
Most people know opener Seu Jorge as the guy who sings the David Bowie covers in "The Life Aquatic." But then again most people are not from Brazil (Jorge's home country), hanging out at Stern Grove on the day that Brazil dominates its World Cup match.
These Brazilians were not as shallow as me - in that they probably didn't spend the whole performance thinking "these Brazilian pop songs are ok and all, but couldn't Seu play, like, one David Bowie song? Not even one?"
Thoughts on Aimee Mann.
Thoughts on being awesome.
Zeitgeist bartenders make margaritas so tasty it makes you wonder why you'd settle for anything less refreshing. I also appreciate that they don't make them out of the same magic tequila potion La Rondalla uses - which is to say you don't stumble out of the Zeitgeist with your pupils rolling in your eye sockets like Cookie Monster wondering where Oscar parked the trash can.
Eating tamales on the Tamale Lady's birthday I wish my friend Eric had never told me that lard is the reason they taste so good.
A fancy purse made from an old skate deck.
Wednesday the MOMA hosted a party for the opening of Matthew Barney's newest cinematic headfuck, "Drawing Restraint 9." I sat through all three hours of the film, and couldn't connect the various whale blubber montages into something resembling an emotional impact. But I like parties at museums.
I'll never work for "Us Weekly." When a really famous person - like Björk, who costars in "Drawing Restraint" - walks into MOMA party, I'm too shy to get close for a photo. I can, however, easily take photos of her back like a coward.
Björk was there to watch her pals Matmos, innovative electronic musicians. And by innovative I don't mean punching buttons on an iMac all night. I mean they use dry ice and tuning forks to make music, which creates a cool, meditative sort of drone.
At a dotcom party around the corner, we totally ran into Buffy the Vampire Slayer (much fatter in real life then on TV).
Thursday, Austin's Black Angels played the Independent. I don't get the industry buzz on these guys. I like a lot of the drone-y shoegazer stuff that's come back around, but when a band has no hooks, no energy, and no spine to its sound it becomes difficult to differentiate one song from the next.
They played with Lansing-Dreiden, a conceptual music and design collective from New York. L-D used to have two stoic chicks doing the Nico thing over angelic, psychedelic pop and it was a mesmerizing live performance. Now they've swapped out most of the band members shifted towards a fey, '80s new wave aesthetic.
There was an "afterparty" at Wazima across the street, where the Black Angels and L-D DJed from their iPod.
I got to hang out with my friend Paul from Kemado Records and his pal Tim, who's in a local metal band called Saros. Kemado is the shit these days - its roster includes Dungen, the Sword, Diamond Nights, that killer "Invaders" comp, and they just signed Danava (a very smart move). Danava is a killer melding of Alice Cooper and progressive metal, which is to say artwork featuring dark castles and evil wizards would not look out of place on their records.
Now that the Hives aren't worth their weight in skinny white ties, people think Sweden gave up on campy rock. Not so. The Ark swooped in with a sound critics are calling the Scissor Sisters meets Spinal Tap -- with a sprinkling of Ziggy Stardust. They got sweaty for the Café du Nord crowd on Friday night.
Just because the singer of the Ark is a flaming, glamtastic bisexual doesn't mean the ladies don't love him.
This chick was my favorite. She stood stage left and threw devil horns.
Yay, the Ark!
Yay, black wings!
New night, new venue, newspaper box graffiti
First up at the Independent on Saturday: the Riverboat Gamblers, fronted by Mike Wiebe, a hyper rock 'n' roller who revels in getting close to his audience.
I've yet to see the Gamblers put on a boring show, mostly because they refuse to sit still. It's one long punk rock 'n' roll party.
And I did say party.
Witnessing Priestess, who played after the Gamblers, play live was one of my highlights for the week. The Montreal band hits the melodic edge of heavy metal and they have hooks galore. You just want to sing along with everything. I'd heard their opening set for Early Man kinda sucked, but there was no suckage at the Independent - except for my shots of the band.
Mid-set, Priestess' drummer launched into a 10 minute drum solo, John Bonham-"Moby Dick"-style. People were into it. Really, you don't hear many drum solos these days.
The Bronx headlined the show. Total bro fest for the aggressive post-hardcore set.
Bronx mosh pit
Time out from the Bronx mosh pit.
And for the seventh day, god invented baseball (A's beat the Giants)
and official hair style
and the Gay Pride party
which brings things back to the Ark! Skipping in leopard print! (Yeah, I saw them twice. I couldn't help myself).
All of which ended in a ride home on the 71 bus next to a big bouquet of balloons.
Here's a couple shows picks for the next two weeks: Black Fiction (7/4, the Hemlock);
3 Inches of Blood/Early Man (Slim's, 7/6); Magik Markers/Skaters (7/6, Hemlock); Aesop Rock (7/6, Independent); Rock n Roll Soldiers (7/7, Hemlock); Mickey Avalon (7/7, Mezzanine); Colossal Yes (7/8, Hemlock); the Sword/Saviours (7/12, Slim's)
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