Was I too busy ranting with friends about music at these shows? Maybe I was spending too much time at the bar? (I did go through a phase where I was going to Metro all of the time and ordering nothing but tall whiskey drinks...hmmm) Whatever the case, Dean Wareham and his cohorts were coming to this fine music venue for one last time as the band Luna, and this time I was determined to behave, stand quietly to myself and concentrate on every last quirky lyric and fuzzy guitar note.
For the last show ever (in Chicago, at least) by a long-time indie/college rock institution, the crowd was amazingly thin. Not empty by any means, but hardly what I would call a full house. I felt a little bad for the band that their Windy City swan song wasn't in front of larger audience, but at least I would be able to find a good spot and devote my full attention to the stage.
Luna started the set with "Fuzzy Wuzzy," from Pup Tent. Not really one of my favorite tracks, but a nice slow-builder to open up the night. Not long into this slow Fuzzy jam, it dawned on me why my previous Luna experiences had been so forgettable. It's not that they sound bad live (or that I always too knackered), it's that they have never been (or should I say were) a very commanding live presence. The band just kind of rocks out at their own pace. You could almost call them lazy, but a more accurate description would be restraint and reserved. Wareham never begs for your attention or pauses dramatically to soak up audience admiration...he just snarkily belts out his lyrics and idly noodles the guitar solos. The music speaks for itself, and if you're not impressed...well, it seems they could care less. Wareham seems like a take it or leave kind of guy...I don't think he's loses too much sleep on the tour bus if the kids aren't dancing from the rafters or the press isn't showing them with acclaim in every city.
This is probably what I've always liked about the band. Always a bit cynical, never immersed in hype, and anything but hyper. Admittedly this isn't a great formula for a live rock show, but when actually concentrating on their show this time, I discovered that Luna are (were) a decent live act. Maybe I was felling a bit nostalgic, but overall I thought they sounded great. The set seemed to borrow a bit heavy from Penthouse, but I certainly had no complaints...it is probably the classic Luna album and it was also my introduction to the band back in 1995. (the "chasing girlies...go home earlies" rhyme from "Chinatown" never gets old!) Even the material from the new album, Rendezvous, (which I was a bit disappointed with) sounded great.
Wareham even gave old-school fans a bone by throwing in a classic Galaxie 500 song ("Blue Thunder") into the set. I especially enjoyed his anecdote afterward about the first time he played Metro back in 1989(actually known as Cabaret Metro back then, and apparently no one told Wareham that they've shortened the name since). He said that there were only 50 people there that night and some random guy kept harassing him all night and shouting "hey, you fagot!" Joe Shannon and the staff eventually booted the guy, and Wareham thanked Shannon for the help that night and all the years of hospitality at the venue.
My only complaint during the night was the lack of Britta Phillips vocals. I thought she really infused some much-needed energy for the band when she joined around the time of Romantica and was looking forward to hearing her live. However, much like the latest record, her presence was barely noticeable during this show. Technically, I suppose she's only a footnote in the band's 13 years of existence, so I guess I shouldn't have expected to hear too much from her in a farewell performance of "greatest-hits." Nonetheless, it seemed like she should have had at least one solo vocal...or at the very least she could have contributed to the classic Luna cover of "Bonnie and Clyde." However, it wasn't to be... (There were rumors swirling around the time of Romatica that Phillips and Wareham had become an "item," but the lack of her voice on the latest record and this final performance makes me wonder if perhaps there was a falling out between the two).
Despite the lack of Jem-worthy vocal contributions, all and all this was a good show and Luna will certainly be missed. However, I think it was a good time for Wareham to call it quits for the band before it became stale and predictable for both the fans and band members. I highly doubt this will be the last time we see or hear of Dean Wareham in the music scene and I won't hesitate to check him out next time he returns to Cabaret Metro.
Day 1 of Chicago Rocks at Metro is an all-ages performance that kicks off at 5 tonight. Featured artists include Longshot, All Natural, Pacifics, Typical Cats and Psalm One. In between sets, DJs PNS and 33 1/3 will keep the beats bumpin. Day 2 at the Abbey kicks off at 10p and features Immortal Technique, Juice, Vakill, Mass Hysteria and another performance from Longshot. Spinning records in between will be DJs PNS, Chris Mix and Boy Wonder. Both nights will be hosted by Cosm Roks of WLUW's The Hip Hop Project.
For more information and a complete talent line-up, visit www.molemen.com/chicagorocks
RFC: When hearing “Pictures and Sounds,” the first thing that comes to mind for me is a psychedelic aural and visual spectacle ala The Pink Floyd in 1967. However, the big differences here (besides the lack of LSD) are that: 1.Rather than random lights and slides, the music will be accompanied by complete video compositions and 2.The music will be improvised around the film rather than vice versa… Most people site The Floyd as being one of the innovators in bringing lights to live music, but who started the trend of improvising music around movies and film shorts?
Plastic Crimewave: Well, shit-this feels like a quiz, but it would be impossible to gauge. Me thinks-since folks were twiddling along on piano without set scores to the very earliest films!
RFC: This concept seems to be gaining popularity recently…(in the last few years, a couple of lounge/downtempo bands have released entire albums based on their improvising to old movies and locally, Califone did residency at Rodan last fall where they improvised to old films) …Is this your first gig like this? Or is it something that you’ve been experimenting with for a while?
PC: My full band, Plastic Crimewave Sound did Pictures and Sounds a few years back to Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising. I've always been into the idea though, being a silent film buff, and seeing a great Knitting Factory show in maybe 1995, where avant garde types scored such films.
RFC: So how do you prepare for a performance like this? I would assume you’re not going into it completely blind, and would have to have some ideas or themes planned?
PC: Oh, i've practiced a little, keeping mental notes, like "spaceship taking off part" or "underwater sounds" or "crowd chaos part"...funny enough when PCWS scored Lucifer Rising, I was the only one who'd ever seen the film, and folks still asked how we managed to score it so tightly-ie-they thought we'd practiced it a lot and had distinct movements planned, when we never had!
RFC: How or why did you choose Méliès' A Trip to the Moon for this performance?
PC: It was actually chosen for me, but a fine choice indeed, that I OK'ed.....
RFC: Anything else we should know about this performance?
PC: I'll be utilizing treated guitar and electronics...and promise aural lift-off! also very excited that my ol pal Fur Saxa will be playing, she rules!
RFC: Besides your performance at Pictures and Sounds, what else is on tap for Plastic Crimewave (and your band Plastic Crimewave Sound)? Future gigs? Album releases? International super-stardom?
PC: This is going to be a sort of big year for me/us...Let's see-
For PCWSound: a new double LP/CD due on Eclipse for summer; a split 12" w/Oneida on JagJaguwar; a track (and I did the artwork) on a UK 10" that is a tribute to "free-festivalers" Pink Fairies, Hawkwind, and the Edgar Broughton Band; a collaborative Lp w/Michael Yonkers; a west coast tour in May with the Ponys (also playing their record release show april 29 at the Double Door); also hoping to get to Europe/UK in the fall.
On the personal front, I've been drawing a bunch of posters, ads and album covers, will have a new comic strip in the Reader, been writing for Stop Smiling and Arthur mags, and I will have a new double-sized Galactic Zoo Dossier magazine available in Summer on Drag City, also will have Million tongues festival #2 in fall at Empty bottle. whew.
This year's program features four nationally-known artists improvising to a century's worth of classic experimental cinema. Projected from 16mm prints, this year's films range from the classic works of Brakhage and Méliès to a modern piece created by local musician Tatsu Aoki.
Besides Aoki, who will be providing his own musical accompaniment, the event will also feature local musicians Azita and Plastic Crimewave. Rounding out the bill is Philadelphia's Fursaxa. For the complete who/what/where and when, visit: http://whpk.uchicago.edu/events/
The Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago is located in Cobb Hall, room 307, at 5811 South Ellis Ave. Cobb Hall, on the U. of C. campus Quadrangle, is located 1/2 block north of the Midway Plaisance. The building is directly across from the Hospital Brain Research Pavilion and just south of the Administration Building. Enter Cobb Hall on the north side. Ample free parking is available on the Midway and 59th Street.
The show will begin at 7:00pm and will feature informal question and answer sessions with the musicians, moderated by film historian Ron Gregg, from the University's Committee on Cinema & Media Studies. This is a free, all-ages event, and the general public is welcome. NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY will be allowed.
(Tomorrow on RFC...more on this event from featured artist Plastic Crimewave)
Swagger Launch Party In Chicago!
If you're a WOXY.COM fan in Chicago, you may want to head down to Subterranean on 2011 W. North Ave this WEDNESDAY, February 23rd around 9pm. Swagger is a new zine in town and they're holding their launch party around 9pm. You can pick up your hot off the press copy of the first issue and have a chance to win prizes. If that isn't enough for you, some great bands including THE HIGH DIALS will be taking the stage. Cover is $7. When you pick up the issue, you'll see WOXY.COM taking up the entire back page!
Bastro - Sing the Troubled Beast/Diablo Guapo (Drag City)
Howling Hex - All-Night Fox (Drag City)
Enon - Lost Marbles and Exploded Evidence (Touch & Go)
William Elliott Whitmore - Ashes to Dust (Southern)
Various Artists - Looking For A Thrill (DVD) (Thrill Jockey)
Aesop Rock - Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives (Def Jux)
Limited edition ep from underground hip-hop star Aesop Rock...comes with a 88-page book of lyrics that spans his entire career! Pick up this week's Reader for a complete review.
Damon & Naomi - The Earth is Blue (20/20/20)
The other 2/3 of Galaxie 500 are back with their first studio record since their brilliant 2000 self-titled release with Japanese psychedelic rockers Ghost.
Ian Brown - Solarized (Koch)
Domestic release of the The King Monkey's (ex-Stone Roses) latest solo effort. Check out Mr. Brown and his pal Noel Gallagher (bloody arse!) rocking out the new Solarized material Wednesday night on Conan.
Ben Lee - Awake is the New Sleep (New West)
Seems like this lovable little Aussie singer/songwriter and Evan Dando stalker has been around forever...yet he's still only 26! This is his 6th solo release and it features guest appearances by Har Mar Superstar and Jason Faulkner.
Thievery Corporation - Cosmic Game (Esl Music)
M. Ward - Transistor Radio (Merge)
Nicolai Dunger - This Cloud is Leaning (Overcoat)
1. Shame on you!! How dare you doubt the drawing power of Erlend Øye?
2. You're not completely screwed...there will be a Kings of Convenience DJ set at Sonotheque following their live Double Door set. The live set at Double Door starts at 9pm, so I'm guessing the DJ set at Sonotheque will start about midnight?
I don't know about Erik Glambek Bøe's DJ skills, but the other half of Kings of Convenience, Erlend Øye, dropped one of the hottest dance mixes of last year, with his 2004 contribution to the DJ Kicks series. Admittedly poor at beat matching, Øye makes up for lack of skills behind the 1200s by improvising lyrics over breaks and occasionally adding lead and background vocals to the mix. This technique probably sounds a bit corny, but somehow Øye pulls it off. I had a chance to experience the "The Singing DJ" myself last year at a one-off SmartBar performance and it was a complete riot. Subsequently, his DJ Kicks album has been universally lauded by dance fans, electronic heads and indie-rockers alike.
Not a complete substitute for Tuesday night's quiet (aka "the new loud") and intimate set at Double Door, but the Kings of Convenience DJ set at Sonotheque is certainly worth checking out for fans who want to hear what the Norwegian duo listen to after-hours when the acoustic guitars are put away.
WZRD (88.3 FM) is back on the air!
WZRD 88.3 FM is the radio station of Northeastern Illinois University, which airs a number of progressive radio programs (including Democracy Now! twice daily). WZRD had been off the air for a number of weeks because of licensing problems with the FCC. However, at about 6pm this evening (February 18), the FCC granted WZRD a temporary authorization to resume broadcasting. Hopefully, WZRD will continue the process to file for a full license during the term of this temporary authorization (which is six months).
"FEBRUARY is BLACK HISTORY MONTH and we are dedicating this night to all who have been a part of the struggle, advancements in society, and positive perseverance. PEACE,LOVE,RESPECT ALWAYS."
The celebration takes place tonight at Sonotheque, from 9p to 2a. (the line to get in should be significantly more tolerable than the insanely over-booked Scion events) World renown DJ/Producer/Remixer Ron Trent will be providing the soundtrack.
Here's more about the monthly event from the Sonotheque website:
This monthly event will be a musical tribute of respect to Africa and all that it has touched and influenced in World music and culture. AFRICA HI-FI will fuse music and social consciousness with art and dance. The evening will be geared toward educating people about Africa as the birthplace of music that we all listen to and love, whether it be Jazz, Dance, World Music or Hip Hop. Africa HI-FI is being presented as an open forum that will tap into the creative energy of the Motherland to help elevate the consciousness of all people, thereby creating a positive collective community.
Sonotheque is located at 1444 West Chicago, for more info call 312-226-7600