Saturday, May 17, 2008

Concerts and Camera

Kittens! How've you been? I've missed you.

First and foremost, I have to let you know that I got a new camera. So far, I'm extremely pleased with it and its flexibility. Many thanks to JH, who recently bought the same one and let me fondle it for a while, which helped me make the decision to purchase one of my very own.

Had the pleasure of seeing Jim White live for the first time last Friday at the Old Town School of Folk Music. (Jim White the Southern Gothic troubadour who records for Luaka Bop, not Jim White the drummer for the Dirty Three.) Setting aside for a moment the fact that the well-to-do yuppies in the crowd probably bugged me more than the garden variety rude, unkempt hipsters I usually encounter when I'm out at a show, it was an enjoyable night. He talks incessantly between songs, unspooling these long, insane monologues about these insane (and often quite poignant) experiences he's been through (watching with panic, fear, and fascination as waterspouts writhed and twisted on the beach in Florida, talking heretical smack to Jesus-lovin' Sleepy LaBeef at a Canadian bluegrass festival) and though there's obviously a bit of polish and raconteurishness to these stories, I get the sense that if you just ran into him in a coffee shop somewhere, he'd probably talk your ear off in a similar way. I bet it's somewhat exhausting, but ultimately quite rewarding, to know him personally. It's the same sense I get about Quentin Tarantino whenever I see or read interviews with him. In fact, White's music and persona exist for me at this funny intersection of a whole collection of other artists, in addition to Tarantino, I have particular fondness for, which, even though I'm not an avid fan of his, really just makes me inherently sympathetic to and curious about what he's doing. There's the Tarantino talkiness, but also the dark, lyrical Americana of Denis Johnson, the joie de vivre informed but unbowed by life's more unforgiving realities of John Darnielle, the childlike silliness and deceptive simplicity of Jonathan Richman, the quirky country parables of Lyle Lovett. (I'm sure there's probably some others in there that I'm forgetting at the moment.) I wasn't familiar with the majority of the material he played, much of which comes from his most recent album Transnormal Skiperoo, but that's OK because he started the show with "A Perfect Day to Chase Tornados," as heartbreaking, tender, and transfixing a song as I know.

Oh my god, Son of Rambow is absolutely the movie that Be Kind Rewind wanted to be. I don't know what I could possibly say that would convince you that you need to see this film at your earliest convenience, but please pretend that I've just said it. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. The British whimsy, the ways that little boys can be such beautiful idiots, the emotional intelligence about the trickle-down economics of bullying--Garth Jennings is just firing on all cylinders here. I was in a total state of suspended delight through the whole thing. Highly recommended.

Also caught the Laura Veirs solo show at Schubas this week. I try to catch her whenever she's in town just because...well, just because. It's like, what else am I supposed to do when it comes to someone who's written and recorded so much music that's insinuated itself into my life so thoroughly in such a relatively short period of time? I show the fuck up at the shows and clap like my life depended on it and buy the merch, that's what. Though I missed Tucker Martine and Karl Blau's contributions, when she plays without her backing band, the songs can reveal their impressively sturdy roots in old-timey country, folk, and bluegrass idioms (an impression which was definitely helped by her playing "Freight Train," which appears on the Two Beers Veirs tour EP, and by then pulling out her banjo to play "Cluck Old Hen," complete with audience participation) and her skill as a guitar player really shines. Liam Finn--New Zealander, son of Crowded House's Neil Finn, with a likeness of Johnny Burns from Deadwood--opened, with a little vocal help from the sumptuously lovely EJ Barnes, and fucking owned the room. Pics here.

Even though it's ostensibly just two guys playing music on a mostly dark stage, I'm tempted to tag this video (via) of the Dodos playing "Fools" as NSFW because, um, holy crap, it's kinda sexy. (Also, WTF, is Casey Affleck playing drums for them now?) Yes, darlings, I'm just using my twenty-ninth year to get some good cougaring practice in before I hit 30...

Jamie Lidell fans, please be sure not to miss this shit-hot remix of "Little Bit of Feel Good." Not only does the track itself knock me out, I was fucking pleased as all hell to discover that remixer Son Lux is actually an old pal from college whom I've obviously lost touch with in the intervening years. Looks like he's making quite a name for himself among the tastiest of the tastemakers in New York. An awesome discovery for the week.

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