Monday, April 12, 2010

It List: Monday

First things first: Gutterth Live's Facebook profile needs to stop aimlessly adding my obscure cousins that are too smart to go local shows, as well as friends of mine who can't go, because they live in Southeast Asia. Chances are when they visit The States, the first stop will not be a J&J's show on a weeknight. Annoying.

Saw a lot and did a lot of "local music" stuff this weekend. After taking a little break from going out so much, I attended events at The Phoenix Project, Fallout Lounge, and The Modern in Fort Worth, respectively. A brief recap along with some random notes:

I've always liked the Wiccans' recordings, but have actually never gotten to see them live. I tried once, but they wouldn't let me into the show at 818 Hickory because I had a little reporter's notepad with me, and I was taking notes all the way down to the street. Just kidding. I'm not a total douche, believe it or not. Anyways, The Wiccans live show is something that I wished happened more often. The mix of speedy hardcore with golden oldies barre chord fuzz, and nasty sludge punk breakdowns was the exact kind of concoction that was just a muddled enough blur of influences to avoid any obvious stylistically oppressive pitfalls. It was just enough to snap me out of this bored and disgusted haze I had felt for the past week, and lifted my spirits about live music, at least as far as the weekend was concerned.

Somebody stomped on my foot at one point during the show, and it hurt really badly, but it was a nice reminder that some audiences still "get into it." There was a time when circle pits would have grated on my nerves, but lately I'm glad to see any sort of participation and enthusiasm. I hated kids in the 80's that wore T-shirts donning slogans like "SHIT HAPPENS" in hot pink letters, and tried to kick my ass so often that I started carrying around a can of Raid bug spray hidden under my shirt, but now I wish I could see those kids out and about, knocking things over at shows. Any sign of life, even a slightly unpleasant one, is better than the vacant looking minions that populate Brinker joints all across The Metroplex, and give up on life by 25.

I should have mentioned this before, but Cole Garner Hill the "hard rock columnist" who writes the "Dead Beat" column for Quick is not only very knowledgeable, but is a great writer as well, and pretty much makes a mockery out of most other people trying to tackle the "other Music" at similar publications. He also writes for The Fort Worth Weekly, where he's also an asset to one of the few independent alt. weeklies in the country. It's nice to have someone out there writing who actually knows what he's talking about, instead of some culture vampire journalist that only covers the underground in a cynical attempt to round up more readers in a coveted demographic. His recent interview and live video combo with Drug Mountain was so cool and well-put together, that I was shocked to see that it was for a Dallas Morning News publication and not some metal/hardcore nerd's blog. I know that sounds like a knock against Quick, but honestly I have always preferred it over other weeklies and dailies.

Later that evening, I heard a remix of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control" from one half of Billingham's Defense System at The Pizza Lounge, before heading next door to catch the always wonderful Anthony Stanford and Keith P's Black Friday. I won't even attempt to go over the play list, but I'll summarize it by saying I didn't necessarily know a lot of it, but it was still really good. I will be talking to someone from that crowd soon, to give us more insight into the almost psychotic habits of record collectors that explore that particular sonic dungeon of the 80's, so look forward to that. I know you love it when we talk about what we're going to do, as opposed to doing it.

Finally, I really enjoyed the Modern 'Til Midnight event, as it's almost impossible not to have a good time at the Modern, however the borderline steep ticket price keeps too much of the riff raff away that I'm sure would have liked to have caught the Ben Jones performance and exhibit. Warpaint played really well, but I have a hard time with mid-tempo indie rock, especially the jammy variety that exists somewhere between Yo La Tengo instrumentals and reformed goth vocals. The performance was still good, and it's hard not to be taken by the sights and sounds of a group as they perform in front of that beautifully shallow body of water eerily lapping against the "critical regionalism" of Tadao Ando's building design. It just never exploded the way I hoped it would, however Warpaint drummer, Stella, a crowd favorite by the end of the set, is really something. "Girl Rhythm" indeed.

Seeing Warhol and Basquiat's collaborations, and to a somewhat lesser extent Francesco Clemente, was so moving and unbelievable that it was ultimately depressing. When you revisit that work, it makes even some of the most impressive pieces of the past thirty or so years seem like a joke. It hasn't aged a second. Pile that on top of his manipulation of television, where he interviews everyone from Divine to Phillip Glass and it really makes the time we're living in seem like a hollow knockoff of an era indeed.

Oh, wait, I forgot the It List:

Power Animal/Final Club/Kampfgrounds/DJ Set By Bryce Isbell (Majestic Dwelling Of Doom): Power Animal hails from Philadelphia, though they are on Waaga Records and they recorded their album, People Songs, with the members of Sleep Whale, so you might accidentally assume they're from Denton. As such, they have a familiarly layered, chamber pop approach, complete with strings and xylophones. What differentiates them from more mood-oriented acts like Sleep Whale is that structured vocals play a big part in the group's sound. If you click here, you'll see one of the members headbanging to to a xylophone. Video courtesy of the aforementioned Gutterth Records, since the video is a preview to an upcoming Podcast featuring the group.

Final Club continues to be an almost controversial and hot local topic, with a fully realized and almost polished confidence to their sound, while Kampfgrounds doesn't pick up at all where Last Men vocalist Luke Dayton left off with his previous group, but instead finds the singer also playing guitar with a mix of forceful and triumphant sounding, songwriting-based punk that is a nice blend of distortion and earnestness. Dayton's range between irrational rage and clear-headed directness is impressive.

Cool Out (The Cavern): A joyous event that's almost the opposite of Black Friday, except that the music is still really good, whether it's Danceteria No Wave or soul and disco tracks that you normally don't get to hear at most Dallas DJ nights.


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