Archive: December, 2008
|Did you hear the one about the theater critic chucking a tomato?|
Okay, it was a fake tomato, and it was part of the act. Toby Zinman, onetime lead theater critic for CP and now the Inky's critic, had an aisle seat at last night's opening of 1812's new musical, Cherry Bomb. A collaboration between Jennifer Childs and James Sugg (read A.D. Amorosi's interview), Cherry Bomb is the riotous retelling of the story of The Cherry Sisters, known as the worst act ever in vaudeville and at whom audience members regularly threw produce.
Cherry Bomb features a brief interlude of audience participation, where patrons are invited to walk up and hurl facsimile veggies at the performers. I have to believe that Scott Greer, playing the role of Oscar Hammerstein, singled Zinman out; I'm sure I saw him out of the corner of my eye gesture to her specifically to get up, walk to the stage and hurl one of the aforementioned projectiles. It is, of course, a pregnant metaphor: Zinman's a tough cookie with very high standards and her critiques, harsh but fair, have inspired many an invective from the theater community. She is known unaffectionately as The Bitch of Broad Street.
I'm curious to hear what she has to say. Her feature in advance of the show ran on Saturday. Our own Mark Cofta will review the production in next week's CP.
Talk about deus ex machina. When the Buddha Machine II (and yes, I know that the Buddha technically is not a diety) arrived in its noble eight-fold brown-cardboard box, I was mystified. What is a Buddha Machine? Are the secrets of life inside? Does it help you better gaze at your own navel? Turns out the gadget, a production of Beijing's FM3, is an ambient music generator the size of a pack of smokes. It's stunning in its simplicity and surprising in its usefulness. The Buddha Machine II, an update of last year's original Buddha Machine, comes pre-loaded with nine new super-chill loops, a headphone jack and now featurs pitch modulation for when you want your plinked, detuned sitar to be just a little deeper.
Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian, electronic music pioneers in China, dreamed up the machine based on Buddhist prayer boxes. In the week or so I've had mine, it's been camped on my desk, just behind my keyboard, throwing waves of meditative drones up into my face. It hasn't changed my life or anything, but I sense I'm slightly less aggro with my Buddha Machine running.
The thing's $26.98 from Forced Exposure, but if your iPhone is the only gadget you need, there's a $3.99 app that puts the device's functionality right into your smartphone.
See a schematic after the jump. I"m gonna go take a nap.
Funny or Die is streaming the episode a month before the series returns to HBO.
Every Monday, the Showdown tells you who to see and where to see ‘em.
Monday: Escape a case of the Mondays with Wisconsin's Bon Iver. Acoustic and folky, plaid-wearing crooner Justin Vernon just might sell out The Troc. With The Tallest Man On Earth. Doors at 7 p.m., tickets are $17.
Tuesday: Philly-based slide guitar-slingin' Jack Rose performs a solo show. Hopefully featuring tracks from this year's I Do Play Rock and Roll and a few old favorites, this one's a seated show with room for 50 at the most. Talk about exclusive! At First Unitarian Church's Chapel. With Bird Show & Sun Circle. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $10.
Wednesday: 'Tis the season for "Greensleeves," Tchaikovsky's Chanukah Suite and excerpts from Handel's Messiah. Indulge in holiday cheer with Yuletide classics performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. At Martin Luther King High School. With tenor Albert Rudolph Lee & conducted by Danail Rachev. Free Admission, doors at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday: Remember "Champagne Supernova"? Us too. The hate-filled Gallagher brothers of Oasis somehow got through the '90s without killing each other, and, even more inexplicably, they still have a solid fan base. Impressive. Admismsion is pricey, but catch them if you can. At the Susquehanna Center. With Ryan Adams & the Cardinals. Doors at 7 p.m., tickets are $53.50-$73.50.
Friday: Brazilian New Ravers Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) break out the electroclash with their catchy synthpop stuff. How much do you want to bet that they'll play "Let's Make Love From Death From Above"? Come on, don't be shy. At the TLA with hey willpower & Pink Skull. Doors at 9 p.m., tickets are $18.50.
Saturday: Remember that scene in Empire Records where Marc gets eaten by Gwar? Well that was '95 and they're still around, intriguing, strange and demented as ever. Known for their bloody onstage horrorfests, these thrash metal shock rockers will most likely turn the Electric Factory into a rocked and rolled mess. With Kingdom of Sorrow & Toxic Holocaust. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $20-23.
Sunday: Screamo at The Model Home! Underground but still buzzworthy, Richmond's The Blue Letter play the living room of Girard Avenue's newest indie rock hot spot. With Balboa, Elder, Angle Worm, Hightide Hotel. Doors at 9 p.m., tickets are $5.
|Photos | Dianca Potts|
Read Dianca Potts' Dec. 11 interview with My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden.
Friday night was all about string trios, outer space and magic.
With each of its members clad in red, openers Clare and the Reasons turned out ballads like "Rodi," "Pluto" and the very very French "Pluton." A mobile of recorders, spinning lights and kazoos, the Clare Muldaur-led Brooklynites finished off their set with the well-loved Tears for Fears chart topper "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," putting a classical spin to the poppy chords and refrain.
Following this enchanting set of eight-ish songs, Worden and Muldaur decorated the stage with strings of black, white and striped flags. Decked out in a Victorian fashion somewhat akin to Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Worden, feathers in her hair, white fishnets on her legs, began her set with the subtle but high-energy "Golden Star" ("Tonight we are full up/ In spite we rejoice like stars/ exploding"). A Thousand Sharks Teeth's "If I Were Queen" gave way to "Dragonfly" and "To Pluto's Moon," which Worden played out on an electric black and silver-gray guitar.
Worden and her string gang introduced the jubiliant, adventurous "Top of the World" with a brief retelling of the song's inspiration, George MacDonald's tale of a boy named Diamond and his journey across the world with the North Wind. The same narrative approach premised the dramatic, Ravel-inspired "Black and Costaud," the story of a naughty boy's brawl with a hot-headed teapot that unfolds in alternating English and French.
With this Philly date marking the almost-conclusion of MBD's three-month tour, Worden compared December 12 to December 24: "This is like Christmas eve — the eve of the end." The band's final song, accompanied by crepe paper birds, ships, seas and puppets, magically transfixed the audience into sitting down for a hushed story time. Filing off the stage with Clare’s Reasons, Worden and her string trio accompanied by Clare returned for a one-song encore of "Gentlest Gentlemen" played out on ukulele and followed by a sincere and warm farewell.
Set list after the jump.
Video h/t: YouTube user kaperko
If I Were Queen
To Pluto's Moon
Top of the World
Black and Costaud
Ice and Storm
Inside A Boy
Je N'en Connais Pas La Fin / Hymne à L'amour
Chino's "Surrounded and Surpassed" makes me wonder if this song was inspired by the Soviet Union's position on Western Capitalism toward the end of the Cold War. N(ote to self: Finish final Essay on Russian Literature and Film.)
Is the title of Emily Bate's "Thunderclap" lifted from that cool move The Thing does in Marvel Ultimate Alliance? Probably not. The music, meanwhile, sounds like a tropical margarita mix topped with many many sweet layers of whipped cream, cherries and a dainty cocktail umbrella.
"South Jersey" sounds like the rough place to be, if the style of Seeds of Terror is any indication. Imagine these studs thrashing your living room, or at least the olfactory presence that would linger if they crashed on your couch, dude. The song was over before the I could really digest the lyrics, but it sounded like, "We all hate your fucking guts." At least they are honest.
"You are my sweetheart/ My one desire/ You make it easy for me to stay true" are telltale indicators of a love song, but in this case, the lyrics are delivered slightly slurred by none other than Local Support regular Joe Jack Talcum, formerly of the Dead Milkmen. Plus, Talcum sounds a bit crocked, so "Alcohol" is a fitting title for the track. "I gave you my heart/ I gave you my liver," he croons. Cheers to that one, brother.
Lettuce Prey, who check in with brattu lo-fi charms of "In Transit," is a very fascinating band name if you look past the punny mondegreen and consider the thoughts racing through a head of iceberg seconds away from being sliced up in a salad. If only vegetables had brains. (Ozzy Osbourne doesn't count.)
Spiral Jetty's "East Berlin" mixes vocals reminiscent of Joey Ramone (with a cleaner, smoother edge) with the upbeat punkrocky guitar melodies of decades past.
I've always wanted to go to a Russian wedding. Preferable, one in Russian. Either way, White Candle's "Abstract Eye" is the next best thing. Halfway through the track it sounds like somebody gave Blonde Redhead a synthesizer to mess around with. The end result is quite pleasing to the ears — no complaints on this end. How appropriate for a song which resonates with The Residents so strongly would be titled "Abstract Eye." Wait — the true identity of The Residents is a mystery. What if they were really White Candle?
I was able to guess what a band with a name like Total Fucking Destruction would sound like before I heard them. Call it musical precognition. A healthy dose of old-school metal never hurt anyone. These guys sound like Obituary, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles and a Fisher Price keyboards thrown into a blender set on "thrash."
"Musk, Hashish and Blood" — that Brother JT knows how to get down. Literally — this song sounds like music you'd hear on the elevator ride to hell.
Chino - "Surrounded & Surpassed" - Best Of Firsts
Emily Bate - "Thunderclap" - The Fever In The Feast
Seeds Of Terror - "South Jersey" - Cdr
Joe Jack Talcum - "Alcohol" - Photographs From The Shoebox
Lettuce Prey - "In Transit" - 7"
Spiral Jetty - "East Berlin" - 1984 Demo
Moral Crayfish - "Gadolinite" - Gadolinite
White Candles - "Behold! The Abstract Eye" - Cdr
Two Handed Engine - "No Victory / Who Dat Ninja?" - Good Misdeeds
Total Fucking Destruction - "Let The Children Name Themselves" - mp3
The Bigger Lovers - "Forever is Not So Long" - How I Learned To Stop Worrying
Brother JT - "Musk, Hashish & Blood" - Nod Is Love
Brothers Of Hope - "Nickol Nickol" - MFSB (c)
Hymns Murder Hearts - "Every Black Spot" - mp3
The Sound Of Failure - "Distress Signal" - The Party Is Over
The Sunshine Will - "Mustang Dunce" - The ESCAPIST
|Matt Wingall | myspace.com/mybrightestdiamond|
My Brightest Diamond plays Philly tomorrow, Dec. 12, at the First Unitarian Church. Dianca Potts talked to frontwoman Shara Worden about what song she can't play live, bizarre/amazing towns in Colorado, her upcoming collaboration with The Decemberists and what she typically buys at Target.
City Paper: Your second full-length, A Thousand Shark's Teeth, was released this past summer. In what ways is it different from the material on your debut, Bring Me the Workhorse?
Shara Worden: The records were made about the same time ... well actually, they were started at the same time and didn’t finish at the same time, but they were an experiment in one way of trying to bring strings and drums together. [On] Bring Me The Workhorse, the strings took a step down, got put in the background a lot more than they did in the orchestration on Shark’s Teeth, so it was a way of trying to negotiate this relationship between the dynamic range and kind of flexibility that you have in classical music with the more traditional orchestration.
CP: What were some of your inspirations for this album?
SW: Alice [in Wonderland] was very influential, and Peter Gabriel was another one. ... Visually, the German installation artist Anselm Kiefer was very key for me. I read a lot of his interviews and saw a couple of his exhibitions ... he explores a lot of man's desire to ascend to the heavens, and so I wrote a couple songs kind of based on that idea. He also employs ladders or sometimes staircases to indicate man's desire to ascend. And so we used a lot of the ladders and big skies and charred black — you know, burned hells and the sea for the images for the photographs.
CP: What are some of your favorite tracks from Shark's Teeth?
SW: I really love playing "From the Top of the World." I enjoy that song a lot. I like all of them, but I think some of them don’t work very well live. Some of them, I feel like the last half of the record — or at least [closing track] "The Diamond" — every time I've tried to play it live, I've never liked it and I've cut it off the program. [It's] sort of ironic since that song named the band, but it just really doesn't want to be played [live]. Yet, anyway.
CP: I know you did an EP that's already released — the remixes for A Thousand Shark's Teeth. I was wondering about the other two EPs I've heard about. What's going on with them and what artists will be involved?
SW: David M. Stith is going to do a remix EP and also Sun Lux, who [remixed] "Inside A Boy." David does all my artwork and he also sings on my records and he did a remix for "Tear it Down." I just heard the Sun Lux ones this week and I'm so excited about them. They're so beautiful. He just puts so much into these remixes. I do all of the arranging myself and it's sort of my baby, [but] I have very little input in terms of the remixes and it's really fun to separate yourself from your material. To hear the way someone else approaches it, it's really refreshing and kind of gets me out of the boxes I have around myself.
CP: You guys have been on tour for awhile. Any fun stories to share?
SW: Story time, story time ... what can I give you for story time? One of my favorite shows was in Paonia, Colorado, and it was this teeny-tiny little town. I think there's 1,500 people in the whole town. There's an 100-year-old movie theater and they brought us in ... we didn’t really know what to expect 'cause when you pull into town, there’s the one little strip of Main Street and it's definitely like a one-horse town. I went over to do something on the radio and they had a fantastic radio facility that was just amazing, and the people were so cool. They fed us an organic dinner that was all made locally by the owner. I think it was all [from] their farm, and they cooked us this amazing meal and we played the show and people were just dancing. It was like being with lettuce gnomes and little wood fairies. I mean these people were just so amazing.
After the show, there was this lady and she has this sort of parlor that felt like you were in a 1920s brothel or something — red velvet everywhere, with old-school naked lady pictures up. She had a bar with a café and then in the back. Everybody came over from the show and all the ladies of the town started dressing up in like antique lingerie and feather hats and feather boas. A bunch of us girls went into the secret stash of this lady’s old costumes and everything, and it was so special because you sort of make these assumptions about what a place is going to be like and these people were really very special. It was definitely one of the biggest highlights of the tour was sort of being there.
CP: You cover Soft Cell's "Tainted Love." What made you pick that?
SW: We started doing that a year ago or something when I was touring with The Decemberists. In the song "Workhorse," the bass line goes "bomp bomp bo-de-de-de-da-de" and I was like, "Guys, look! This sounds like, 'Bomp-bomp, Now I feel I’ve got to ... bomp bomp.' So we were like this flows directly from into "Tainted Love," so we started breaking out the glowsticks, you know what I'm saying?
CP: What are your post-tour plans for My Brightest Diamond? What do you guys have planned?
SW: I'm going to sing on Lori Anderson's record in January, so that's going to be one of my big things. And I also sang on the new Decemberists record. It's going to be like a rock opera — or it is a rock opera of sorts. Becky Stark from Lavender Diamond and I ... I am playing the wicked queen figure.
CP: That's awesome. Two diamonds.
SW: Yeah, totally. So the two diamond girls are going to join forces with The Decemberists — it's like a 3-D affair. There's [also] a compilation called Red, Hot and Indie, and I did a Nina Simone song for that, so that will be coming out next year, too. I'm really excited about [the plans] because it's doing all stuff that's sort of different for me. Since I've been in My Brightest Diamond layin' so hardcore for awhile, it'll be fun to kind of do some things with other people.
CP: Last question: What are your favorite things these days? Books, music, colors, foods, shapes, sizes ... anything.
SW: Favorite things are made of glass and metal. I've just been collecting anything glass that sort of has pitch. I've been buying candle holders at Target and hand-blown balls of glass that have pitches that sort of hum. My skull hoodie is also a favorite thing, and Limonata San Pellegrino.
Every Monday, the Showdown tells you who to see and where to see ‘em.
Monday: What's this? A seated show at The Troc? Must be special. Catch the original cast and band from Azuka Theatre's spring production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch or you'll totally regret it. Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25-$75.
Tuesday: Pretty singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata graces the stage of First Unitarian Church's sanctuary. She usually sells out her Philly shows, so expect this one to do the same. Get a ticket ahead of time so you can blog about her gorgeous voice and lovely talent to all your friends online. With the Low Anthem. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $16.
Wednesday: Pittsburgh natives The Takeover UK play the Khyber, sure to stun showgoers with their boyish good looks/indie pop rock anthems. With Rivers Monroe & Neighbors On the Moon. Doors at 9 p.m., tickets are $8.
Thursday: Melodic swooners and Merge Records signees The Radar Brothers are worth the trek out into the cold. You're going to like what you hear, I guarantee it. With Roomtone & the Swivel Chairs. At Johnny Brenda's. Doors at 9 p.m., tickets are $10.
Friday: Fronted by former Sufjan Stevens cheerleader Shara Worden, My Brightest Diamond plays the FUC. Between the string trio and the dreamy soundscapes, you'll leave in complete awe of opera scholar Worden's voice. With Clare & The Reasons. Doors are at 8 p.m., tickets are $12.
Saturday: '90s alt-rock siren Aimee Mann is feelin' the spirit of holiday cheer with her third annual Christmas show. We can pretty much be sure she's on Santa's "nice" list as a result. At the Keswick. With Paul F. Tompkins, Morgan Murphy, Nellie McKay and Grant Lee Phillips. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $29.50-$39.50.
Sunday: Looking for a way to keep your Sunday night from turning into a total snore? Skip over to the M Room and rock out to our very own You, Me & T-Rex. With Stereoblaster, Kill You In The Face & The Lopez. Doors are at 8 p.m., tickets are $8.
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