Thursday, June 05, 2008

Jamie Lidell, Live at the Abbey Pub

It was a good show. Not a great show--but a good show that I'm happy I attended. Lidell and his band have only been on the road touring behind Jim for just over a week now, so I think there's hope that by the time they swing back around ("when I! come back around!") for Lollapalooza in August their set will have some more cohesion. But last night felt a little all over the place. I think part of the problem is that his band is...well, not much of a band yet. You could tell that Jamie wanted to blast out on stage and light the place on fire like old school James Brown, but the four guys behind him were nowhere near musically robust enough to support that attempt. They were clearly having fun, and their oddball stage antics and costumes were certainly of a piece with Lidell's sensibility, but until these guys can actually match his chops as well as his silliness--or, y'know, until he can afford to bring the Dap-Kings out on the road--I'd much rather see him just do the solo knob-twiddling freak-out thing. Which he did for a nice extended segment in the middle of the set. (A girl in my peripheral vision kept turning her back to the stage so she could flirt possessively with the guy she'd come to the show with, and I just wanted to shake her by the shoulders and say, "do you realize what you're missing every time you do that?!") He was also, thankfully, in fine vocal form throughout the night; his croon on the first verse of "Green Light"--easily one of my favorite songs on the new album--was just ridiculously pristine. I also have to give credit to the extremely amped audience. Even if the show wasn't quite as mind-bendingly in-the-pocket as I would have liked, the crowd was having a blast. Lots of dancing, clapping, and call and response--in fact, during the obligatory break between the fake end of the show and the encore, we all politely clapped and hollered for a few seconds until some brilliant person got the entire crowd singing the "I been waitin' / I been waitin' / I been waitin' / yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" bit from Jim's "Wait for Me" until the band started trickling back out on stage. It was an incredibly sweet and heartfelt gesture.

Right, so...Sex and the City. I don't even know what I can say about the movie, much less the entire juggernaut, at this point. I've been tying myself in knots all week trying to come up with something interesting to say about it here, but I don't know if any attempt to untangle would do much of a service to my thoughts or to the film. Was I offended by the prerelease backlash? Yeah. My standard line has been, "it's The Baby-Sitters Club for sexually active adult women. No more, no less. Get over it." But do I understand the fatigue and annoyance that comes of all that hysterical media saturation, especially if you're not a fan? Of course. Harry Potter's similar omnipresence last summer drove me batty. Did the backlash start to get to me a little bit, in spite of myself? It did, during the few days when I was meekly referring to my plans to see "that movie with the ladies." I pretty quickly realized, though, that that shit ain't right and just started outright discussing the fact that I was going to see it during opening weekend with, yes, three of my good city girlfriends. Was there a certain thrill in being in a theater full of women who were reminding the muckety mucks in Hollywood WITH THE VERY LOUD NOISE OF OUR DOLLARS that we're still a demographic to be reckoned with? Sure, while at the same time wanting to scold everyone for gasping with delight at that hideous walk-in closet reveal and for laughing at all the lamest jokes.

I think the only aspect of the movie I haven't seen widely addressed yet is Samantha's incredibly offensive food-instead-of-sex subplot. Far from being a genuinely affecting corollary to Carrie and Miranda's story lines wherein they're also separated from the things that matter most to them, hers is played slapstick. I guess Samantha's inherent wink-wink, nudge-nudginess kind of resists overwrought emotional histrionics in general, but her loss was really not treated with much respect at all. I think it's sort of barely coincidental that she's the oldest actress of the bunch, and thus beginning to slip into the realm of "it's so funny when grandma says 'penis'!" I mean, for a character who's known for her notoriously prurient appetites, her "sex scenes" actually become scenes of creepy-old-lady voyeurism as a bunch of plastic-looking porno people bounce and gyrate in front of the open windows next door to her. Oh, and of course she also buys a dog (retail therapy + being associated with the animalistic impulses of fucking and feeding--ugh), which then allows for the convenient "pooch" pun when she arrives back in New York and everyone's horrified by how much weight she's gained. About halfway through the scene, Carrie tosses off some line like "it's not about the pounds, you'd look beautiful at any weight"--and you can practically smell the graphite, the line feels so penciled in during eleventh hour script revisions. Obviously, I'm pretty angry about all that. But, I liked the rest of it enough on the whole, I guess. Best line? When they first get to the hotel in Mexico and Miranda barks, "you got wireless here? Thanks."

I also saw a bit of French piffle, Roman de gare, last weekend. It kind of pointlessly folds back on itself in that "you've just been watching the story that the character is writing!" way, but the performances are very warm and the preposterousness of many of the plot twists yields its own pleasure. Longtime Wrestling Entropy readers know of my love for Dominique Pinon, so it was definitely a treat for me to get to see him carry a film like this. Extra bonus points for all the wonderful French crooner stuff on the soundtrack.

Hey, how much fun is that Spoon Don't You Evah EP? I finally got around to putting it on my iPod and couldn't believe how easy it was to listen, not counting the one from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, to six different versions of the song in a row. A lot of it is certainly just the endless amount of richness in Britt's voice, but if the tracks had just been standard issue variations on the boring thumpa-thumpa remixes I always find myself regretting having downloaded, even the samples of him wouldn't have floated the middle five all on their own. I'm glad, though, that Spoon's tastefulness extends even to DJs and other remix artists on their interstitial releases.

Local friends, if you find yourself venturing out for the Printers Row Book Fair this weekend, be sure to stop by booths 331 and 333 to say hi to the CRP worker bees. A few local authors will be signing their recently released books and we'll be featuring plenty of other local interest titles. Should be fun!

1 comment:

Michael said...

Ha! I love the 'Babysitters' line. I think the backlash to this film is indicative that sexism in the US hasn't gone away, it's just gotten sneakier.

I don't understand anyone who still thinks that fictional characters hold some kind of magical sway over our actual behavior. That's like saying because I had a good time at the new Rambo movie, I'm going to dismember a guy with a giant homemade knife.