Long live rock, I need it every night

Monday, April 26, 2010

Farewell, til you know me well Girlfriend

Phoenix @ DAR Constitution Hall - Monday, April 26th ~$50

Move over Undercover Slut, Phoenix is the crème de la brûlée. First it was the kissing, then the fries, and now we have Sarkozy eating at Ben's Chili Bowl and Phoenix rocking us...? Next they'll be making enemies with the muslim world. The French. They so want to be American.

They were practically giving tickets to Phoenix away on craigslist this afternoon, so it was back to DAR tonight. DAR still sucks, but Phoenix is big enough to fill the aircraft-hanger of a music hall. They not only shrink the venue with their massive sound, but with their stage presence too.

Here's the difference between Vampire Weekend @DAR and Phoenix @DAR: everyone stands for Phoenix. I think it's deserved. They opened with Lisztomania, got everybody up and were relentless with the catchy pop rock for the duration. Thomas Mars seemed to be looking for every possible emergency exit in the place tonight. I thought he was going to commandeer a spot light and get all Bono at one point.

Great show, check out the second part of the clip where half the audience plays rock band.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Harlem Night

Harlem w/ Tennis System & Foul Swoops - April 19th @DC9 - $10

We are getting close to the one year anniversary of sacklunch's last post on this site. But that doesn't mean he's completely absent. This Monday night, Harlem performed at DC9, and it was a sacklunch pick. Nice job sacklunch. Never mind that Jumbo Slice has been talking up these guys for over a year now. He's a deserter and shall be ignored (for now).

We only caught the last couple of songs from openers Foul Swoops, but they were good, and they looked like they were sophomores in high school. Be sure to check them out if you see them on the bill somewhere. Young rockers.

The Tennis System? Not so much. I liked one out of the five songs I heard them play before retreating downstairs. But a part of me just couldn't get past their look. It was distracting. You know when little girls play dress up and wear their mom's clothes and put on make up and look rather messy and ridiculous? Enter The Tennis System. Half of their membership played dress-up, apparently trying to look like 80s rock stars. I wasn't buying it. Leather vests were bad for Danzig, they're bad for Tennis too.

Then came the very loose threesome, Harlem. Fronted by Michael Coomers, who began the set behind the largest kick drum I've ever seen, I'd say these fellas were well pickled by the time they went on. Sloppy and dealing with technical problems, it didn't matter. These guys were having fun, were self-effacing and they managed to keep it together. "Thanks for paying to see us practice," Coomers joked after his guitar cut out mid song. They took requests from the crowd which filled the club about 80% on a Monday night, and they pleased.

I haven't mentioned that Coomers looks a lot like How I Met Sarah Marshall star, Jason Segel, but I'm pretty sure they're the same guy. Judge for yourself (Coomers may need to lay off the french fries a little).

Better live than on record, despite (or maybe because of) their messy performance...here's their music video:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fillet of Soul

I keep seeing ads for Soul Train DVDs.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

From this day forward

The Wedding Present - Friday, April 9th @ the Black Cat with the Jet Age - $15

There wasn't much brewing on Friday night, so why not check out The Wedding Present?

I knew/know very little about this band, having mostly thrown them into the same basket of British bands that my neighbor in college would listen to, while I donned my flannel and set my sights on music from the Pacific Northwest. My neighbor, Jason Lee (not that Jason Lee, obv), was a huge fan of Ride, Swerve Driver, Suede, the Reading Musical Festival, and I'm pretty sure the only reason I ever heard of The Wedding Present was because it was in rotation coming from his dorm room.

Here's what I've learned since.

  • The Wedding Present is basically David Gedge. He's the only constant in the band since they formed in 1985.
  • They didn't stop making music just because Jason Lee is no longer my neighbor. Friday night's show included a handful of tracks from albums produced after 1995, actually. Some good stuff.
  • While DC area band The Jet Age opened for The Wedding Present on Friday, as they did some 5 years earlier, there is another Jet Age connection to The Wedding Present. The Jet Age's Eric Tischler "was commissioned to remix the lead track for The Wedding Present’s first ever download-only single, “The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend” from the band’s album El Rey" (thank you BLURT on-line).
  • Lots of bald dudes in their late 40s/early 50s love this band. They showed up in full force Friday and even had themselves a ghey-ol' dance party in the middle of the floor. Nice to see people dancing.
  • The Wedding Present can reach back and deliver some intense indie rock (as well as some softer jams), but they played a long long set. David Gedge turns 50 in twelve days, but he rocked it like a 30something Friday, playing the Bizzaro album (their 2nd in the catalog).

Thursday, April 08, 2010

(Cherry) Bomb

The rockudramedy, The Runaways, opens nationwide tomorrow (April 9th). On Monday night, Rock Club caught an advanced screening of this "coming-of-age biopic."

The first thing I learned from seeing this motion picture was that Joan Jett was a minor league lesbian. I guess this isn't necessarily surprising. She has that hardware-store type of walk, and she hates herself for loving you. After watching this movie, one wonders which got more fingering, her guitar, or singer Cherie Currie. Okay, if you expect to see fingering in this movie you're going to be disappointed. I think Jett is more of a power cord kind of player.

But I say minor league because despite the constant references and outright same-sex scenes in the film, Jett has not been out and open about her sexuality in real life. I don't think you can be a major league lesbian if you're not going to be out about it. She seems to be more of a double-A athlete than a major leaguer.

Thanks to movies like Dazed and Confused, I knew the Runways' big hit, Cherry Bomb, without necessarily knowing it was the Runaways who performed it. I was 2 when this band formed and wasn't living in California. Instead, I remember being pretty psyched each time "I Love Rock and Roll" was played over the school bus radio when I was 8 years old. Joan Jett seemed pretty awesome. Little did I know that tune was a cover of The Arrows' 1975 song. Anyway, "I Hate Myself For Loving You" was pretty solid. But now I've gotten ahead of myself.

The second thing I learned from seeing this movie was that I missed hearing some of these tracks I hadn't heard in a while. It inspires you to head to iTunes for a few downloads. No doubt, a calculation when making a movie like this.

Kristen Stewart plays a great Joan Jett, and Dakota Fanning plays Cherie Currie, and I have no idea how true to life her performance of Currie is. But I do know that anytime we type Dakota Fanning on our blog, we get more traffic (welcome back to the blog creepy Fanning fans).

Here are some problems I had with this movie.
1. No sense of time. You aren't given any clue as to what year it is at any given point in the movie. By the end of the movie, it seemed like maybe 9 months had transpired, when it had been 4 years. The same can be said for setting. It wasn't until the characters were sitting in front of the Hollywood sign that I knew for sure they were in California. That was 10 minutes in.
2. Not enough Lita Ford. The movie was based on Currie's book "Neon Angel," so perhaps it's no surprise that the film seemed to be all about Currie. But I wanted to see more Lita Ford. I don't know why, I just did.
3. No nudity. It's a movie about a chick band and there's drugs and rock and roll, but not enough sex if you ask me.
4. The relationship between Jett and Currie covered the "coming-of-age" element of the movie. But their relationship wasn't portrayed as being all that complicated (or interesting) beyond the girl-on-girl element. Once you figure that out, the only thing you have left is the nostalgia from the era, and...

the best thing about this movie.
1. The character of Kim Fowley, manager and "creator" of the Runaways. Played by Michael Shannon, Kim adds the comedy to this tragedy of a movie. In one scene, Joan Jett is calling Fowley from the road, filling him in on how well things are going, and all you hear is Shannon's voice over the telephone, trying to respond, but clearly distracted as he is obviously mid-coitus. He might be worth the time investment in the movie, but not necessarily the price of admission.

When it was all said and done, I learned more about the Runaways in 45 seconds reading wikipedia than I did in watching this whole movie. I wouldn't stop you from seeing the Runaways. The first 30 minutes were actually pretty good. But maybe like the band itself, it ran out of gas pretty quickly.
I'll bet the film does great in Tokyo.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Not quite the Graver I had expected

As mentioned earlier, Jimbromski and I were indeed spellbound by all the Goths congregating outside of Recessions in downtown DC Saturday night. Some folks really know how to make a statement despite a very monochrome wardrobe. Unfortunately for us, the real scene at Recessions for their Spellbound night takes place out of plain view from the street. That and the fact that this doomcookie wasn't brave enough to wander in there, my curiosity as to what goes down at Spellbound went unsated. Mystery solved:

Yeah, it's not what I would have expected at all, but probably should've guessed.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

VW Fuss

Vampire Weekend - Saturday, April 3rd - Constitution Hall DAR - $30+

Jimbromski joined me for an intimate night with Vampire Weekend on Saturday. We both felt as vulnerable as Abe Lincoln, sitting in the box just off the stage, but I can't complain about that really. Comfortable and close. It matched the comfort in which we traveled to the venue (minivan cab ride). I've already gone on and on about how much I detest seeing concerts at DAR on this site, and I'll do a little of that again here, but being close helps a lot.

Here's some video I took from our vantage point:

Sure VW sold a lot of tickets for Saturday's show, but I don't think they did themselves any favors playing DAR as opposed to the 930. They seemed slightly disappointed with the reaction from the crowd, encouraging more dancing, clapping, singing, fawning, even fist pumping. If the crowd wants to fist pump, it probably would take some coaxing, but clapping, singing along, moving. at. all. - these are not new ideas to us, thank you. But I am less likely to do any of them at Constitution Hall. It's just too big and somewhat isolating, leaving me all the more exposed. Anyhow, the space is better suited for a high school assembly than a rock show. Spoon could sell out Constitution Hall. Easily. But for whatever reason, they don't perform there, and we are all the better for it.

VW is certainly a different animal than when we saw them in February of 2008 at the Rock n Roll Hotel. Seeing them performing to high schoolers and their parents this weekend made for a more mainstream experience; not surprising and probably inevitable. But they seemed a little more Disney and a little less rock and roll.

My favorite tune of the night was "Cousins," the first single released from Contra. The song itself pushes all of the right buttons for me, but Ezra Koenig's edgy guitar and Chris Tomson's drumming at the end had just the right crash to disturb and rouse. Here's a great video shot by Diarrhea Island's Marianne to illustrate (actually, Marianne has lots of great stuff to check out from the show):

Despite what I said above, the crowd was wild with appreciation, just not very demonstrative beyond the applause and cheers after each song. Not all that unusual for a DC show, but VW could have had the floor jumping if it were at a better space.

After the show, Jimbromski and I checked out the Goth scene at "Recessions" downtown. Come to find out, they have an ongoing scene offered via Spellbound. Okay, so we actually just looked on from next door as the Goths gathered outside of Recessions. One of them raced back and forth across traffic for some reason demonstrating just how on the edge these folks live (while avoiding the light of day). Vampire Freakend.

I don't imagine I'll be going to see VW again, unless they played a venue like the 930 club or a larger festival where I can lounge outside and see a bunch of other bands too. Saturday's performance was solid, and maybe it's just my middle age flaring up again, but I don't watch Nickelodeon for a reason, and it's the same reason I'll leave future VW shows to the young and the Reston.