23 April 2007

Weekend Update

I meant to post an account of the weekend's activities as they happened, but you know how it goes... You don't? Well, never mind, then, here's a brief summary:

Friday night, my new friend Mikki invited me out to see a band I'd vaguely heard of but otherwise knew nothing about. They're called Japanther, and are apparently "local heroes," at least according to Mikki, and she knows a lot more about such things than I do. They were playing at the old Domino Sugar Factory, a waterfront landmark since 1884 which looks set to be converted into either luxury housing, moderately priced housing, or God knows what else (a similarly contentious site about a mile north in Greenpoint mysteriously burned to the ground when the preservationists looked like getting their way).

The venue turned out to be a rather small and very smoky room (the show apparently being conducted somewhat sub rosa (the guy selling tickets seemed quite determined to make sure no one hung out on the sidewalk as if, say, there were a show going on inside, New York City's smoking laws were apparently in abeyance as well. The tobacco stink was bad enough, but about half the junior air polluters there seemed to be smoking dope as well.

I say "junior" because this crowd was young. I'm used to going to punk rock shows where I'm the oldest person there, but for some reason I don't feel as self-conscious there as I did at this gig. Actually, I don't think it was so much a matter of chronological age - Saturday night's punk show, of which more later, had kids even younger - as it was of emotional or intellectual maturity. My first reaction on walking in was to feel like I'd stumbled onto the set of a rather sanitized movie about Williamsburg hipsters. I mean, they had the right look and the right manner, but they were just a little too fresh-faced to be fully convincing. It was like the 21st century Brooklyn equivalent of Singles, which portrayed a bunch of wholesome little 20-somethings getting mildly messed up on the Seattle grunge scene.

Never mind me, though, I'm just getting grumpy and old. Japanther, a very loud and effective two-piece, were interesting, and I don't mean that to sound as damning as it often does. A little too arty for me, maybe, but I'm not as opposed to art as some people seem to think I am. It was the kind of music that could easily prompt some serious cerebral musings while still being thoroughly danceable. But a few of the more intoxicated kids thought it ideal for starting a slam pit-cum-crowd surfing derby and honestly, I just wasn't in the mood. It was very 70s/early 80s, where you're having a punk/New Wave/experimental show in a warehouse and a detachment of frat boys shows up and starts crashing into people because "Isn't that what you punk rockers like to do?" We left early, though I was glad to see at least what I did of Japanther, and a little disappointed not to have seen Harry and the Potters, who were headlining, though I've heard their music doesn't quite measure up to the name and concept, which would admittedly be hard. I see they have 88,704 Myspace friends, however, so someone must be listening. And you can hardly quibble with album titles like Voldemort Can't Stop The Rock.

On Saturday, the most beautiful day of the year so far (Sunday may or may not have topped it), I stayed indoors most of the time watching the dire doings of the English Premier League. Honestly, I'll be glad when this season is over so I can go outdoors on Saturdays and Sundays again. It's true that when I was in England football took up an inordinate amount of my time, too, but at least I was out in the (sometimes entirely too) fresh air watching instead of hunkered down in front of a TV set.

This season's doings are particularly dire, however, because my beloved Fulham have bumbled and stumbled their way into imminent peril of being relegated to the First Division (now known by people who don't know any better as the "Coca Cola Championship"). Humiliation aside, I wouldn't mind quite so much if I were still in England because there'd still be matches to attend (46 per season rather than the 38 played by Premiership sides), but it would mean I'd no longer be able to see them on television here in the States, as lower division matches are very seldom broadcast here. All will be revealed in the next three weeks, but for now it's like watching a horrible car crash in slow motion.

Saturday night was the big record release party for the Unlovables, also featuring the Steinways, Project 27, Full Of Fancy, and, in a special treat, one of the hottest young bands in the country, the Leftovers. I'd been looking forward to this show for weeks, and while it was a full-fledged success on nearly every count - except maybe for those who showed up too late and couldn't get in - it was kind of a bust for me. Not because of the bands, who as usual were on fine form (though the Steinways showed worrying signs of turning into a cover band), but because I wasn't feeling my best.

I don't think I've mentioned it here, but I've been being treated for a bit of skin cancer - nothing at all serious, just one of the afflictions that typically goes with being Anglo-Irish and spending too much time in the sun - and it's left some horribly unsightly burn-like marks - hopefully only temporary - on my arm, which I'm kind of self-conscious about. So I decided to wear a long-sleeved shirt and topped that off with a hoodie, only to find the temperature inside the Knitting Factory best suited to the cultivation of tropical house plants.

I stuck it out for a few hours, but had to flee before the Unlovables had finished much of their set. Reliable reports indicate that it was sensational, as were the Leftovers, and that I can attest to as an eyewitness. I've been lucky enough in my time to see a number of bands - among them I could cite the MC5, the Stooges, Blondie, the GoGos, the Ramones, Green Day, Screeching Weasel - when they were playing places far too small to contain them, when I'd be standing two feet away from an act that I knew could just as easily be filling an arena or a stadium. The Leftovers are headed off for a national tour starting in late May, and following that, are on their way to Europe. If you want to see them up close and personal while they're still playing small clubs, this could be your last chance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

live a little dude - you barely compliment any aspect of anything you did all weekend.