Archive: February, 2009
|Too many people wore reds that night.|
“I thought you said you were going to kill yourself.”
I can’t imagine listening to The Friggs at home. On their albums, they come off as a decently-executed tribute band to Bikini Kill, a group that isn’t too exciting in the first place. And, by definition, tribute bands are short on innovation and therefore lack one of the few things that punk rock has going for it — creativity, no matter how base. But I attended The Friggs’ Saturday night show anyway, mostly because it was celebrating the eighth anniversary of Sugar Town.
If you’re not entrenched in the Tritone/post-riot grrl/punk rock scene, you may not know what Sugar Town is. It’s a monthly event that promotes female bands, which was originally hosted by Sara Sherr, M.J. Fine, Lisa Cohen and Maria Tessa Sciarrino. (And just what does “female band” mean, exactly? “It means at least one girl plays in the band, and she’s not just shaking a tambourine,” says Sherr.) Whether or not you’re familiar with Sugar Town, though, you probably know Sherr in at least one of her incarnations. She DJs. She books shows at the Tritone, and booked them in the past at the Balcony at the Troc. She also hosts karaoke and performs in the drag-happy improv group Dumpsta’ Players. And on top of that, she’s got a full-time job at Urban Outfitters in the Navy Yard.
So yeah, a part of me went to see Sherr — to find out what the firecracker was like in person. A short lady with choppy blonde hair and an all-black outfit, Sherr looked like a proud mom on Saturday night. Standing next to Tritone’s front door, she attentively eyed the front stage, then ushered in several fans, and then sang excitedly along to The Friggs. As she hummed, her head bopped furiously up and down, like she was trying very hard to convince you of something. In short, she looked like a fangirl.
If I judged The Friggs solely on their recordings, I’d have no idea why Sherr (along with the crowded room) was so enamored with them. But the band is an entirely different entity live — the tweaked-out joy that The Friggs bring to a room just can’t be translated onto an album. In person, the group’s mash-up of punk rock, Beach Boys riffs and rapid-fire drumming is much tighter, and the intricacy of these musical layers is more apparent. And that’s to say nothing of Palmyra Delran, the singer and guitarist who’s known for her signature black ponytail, which was suspended by two perfectly-placed chopsticks that night. She’s charismatic as hell, and can glide effortlessly from a soft coo to a coarse howl. Plus, she’s funny:
While bandmate Lexi Plumm was wrestling a guitar around her shoulder, Plumm yelled, “I hope a tit doesn’t pop out!”
“You’re wearing too many layers for that!” Delran said.
'Gotta agree with Sherr on this one — I think I'm becoming a fangirl.
Should you go see anti-war environmentalist Yale drop-out cult-escapee Rhode Island-via-Alaska-via-Memphis singer-songwriter Larkin Grimm tonight? That’s your call. Listen and decide.
Larkin Grimm plays tonight. Wed., Feb. 4, 8 p.m., $8, with Ghost Ship and Hunter/Gatherer, Kungfu Necktie, 1248 N. Front St., 1-866-468-7619, r5productions.com.
|Photo | John Vettese|
"I'm hitting a lot of sours tonight, so I apologize," Antony Hegarty said to a modest Keswick Theatre crowd. "I've got lemons on my fingertips." A citric metaphor by way of explaination for some supposed flubs, but it was hardly necessary. Sure, it was the first night of tour and maybe he hadn't been behind the Steinway in front of a theater crowd since 2006. But whatever mistakes Hagerty was fretting over were subaudible if at all. Antony and the six-person orchestra that is The Johnsons played with poise and delicate panache, tackling songs from across the Manhattan Welshman's catalogue - the baroque airs of "Epilepsy is Dancying," the meloncholic piano ascent on "Cripple and the Starfish," his popular rendition of Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" followed immediately by the steady soul vamp on "Fistful of Love" - which I swore would not work without the horn accompaniment but good God it totally did. If sours were present, they were tastefully absorbed but the skillful ensemble. Chrissakes, some dude on a center asile seat kept hollering "I want your lemon fingertips." Hagerty seemed momentarily embarassed, laughed, wondered aloud how tall the fellow was. Stepping out for the encore, he and the Johnsons threw a couple bouquet's worth of white roses to the crowd. More photos after the jump.
|Photo | John Vettese|
|Photo | John Vettese|
|Photo | John Vettese|
|Photo | John Vettese|
|Photo | John Vettese|
|Photo | John Vettese|
|Photo | John Vettese|
|Photo | John Vettese|
An added perk to the show was Antony's good-natured ribbing of Fishtown. I didn't have my tape recorder going, so this is roughly paraphrased, but still hysterical:
"So I spent some time in Fishtown recently. I was quite impressed. I wish there were still places like that in Manhattan."
Sounds really complementary at first, yeah? But he continued, talked of visiting a friend who moved there, and how:
"It was great, there was this like 17-year-old girl on roller skates and in bright orange pigtails and - okay, so maybe that part wasn't so great - but its broad daylight, she's standing very erect and [*makes twitchy expression and affects an uber-valley girl voice*] 'Do you need directions?!?!' 'Um, actually, no, we were just wondering about that abandoned police precinct over there. Is it for sale?'"
(I live on the Mt. Airy / Germantown border, so I've got no idea what he's talking about here. Hey Fishtownies, did he travel deep into your burg to see this, or is he just really confused?)
"And then there's that part right on the main street, underneath where the trains go by. And along the street, there are all those abandoned bank buildings. You look inside, and they're just these majestic ruins. Yes, mmmm...ruins. Enjoy your city, everyone."
God bless the DDT brewers, honey.
Featuring: A chemical plant manager played by the guy who tries to take Claire’s baby away from Kate in the Lost season debut.
Chloe Garafalo goes up to Larry and says she found a “code fragment” that may be “residue” from when the planes went down and maybe it’ll help them outwit the CIP device. Larry’s like, eh, I’m skeptical. First Larry turned up his nose at torture and now this. I wonder if he’ll live another 24.
Of course Garafolo’s longshot lead turns up something: Dubako! is triggering a meltdown at a pesticide plant in Ohio. My god. Thousands of innocent bugs will die! At the same time, instead of one-by-one late at night when they scurry across the bathroom floor! Oh and people will die too.
Chief of Snakes briefs President Pillowface on the matter and all of the sudden he’s the world’s leading authority on essapathemerkasyn cyanide. He warns of massive toxic cloud, nausea, dry mouth and weak stream.
Meanwhile, Dubako!, whose amazing control room must only be five minute drive from last episode’s abandoned airplane hangar, threatens Mutobo about some Sangallan crap.
Agent Walker sneaks into Bad Guy HQ while Jack, Bill and Tony sneak in the back way and Chloe does the earpiece walkthrough. And for a minute it’s just like old times.
The new times keep on rolling too, with New Chloe talking the chem plant manager through a $5 version of that Star Trek scene where Spock dies. The end of Khan, I think. He calls her honey and she says I’d rather you didn’t and he says she should lighten up, and since we know he’s about to sacrifice his own life to save his fellow heroes the toxic pesticide makers, we discern he’s the good guy and that Chloe Garafalo should, in fact, lighten up. Honey helps him release pressure so that he’ll get gassed.
Then, Dabako! notices Bill’s white hair floating across his security monitor and decides, zoinks, let’s gtfo. So they shut off the CIP just in time to have a loud, crazy, spark-showering, glass-shattering shootout with Jack et al. Tony has a silencer, which is ridiculous. Walker secures the Mutobos who are just standing around cowering. They are seriously the most useless people on the planet.
Back in Ohio, the Sexist Pesticide Patriot has collapsed, his selfless suicidal self-gassing now rendered unnecessary. Thanks to a pretty sturdy Bluetooth and a strong signal, he dies on the phone. “Don’t grieve Admiral Garafalo,” he wheezes. “It is logical, honey. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one, sweetcheeks. I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper, toots.”
Somehow, Dabako! the Sangallan supercriminal manages to escape — but without the frakking CIP, which is smashed. Dude you suck. Ah, but on his way out he remembers where he stashed the that supernerd who helped get the CIP device up and running several weeks, I mean hours, ago. Dabako! wires the dude with explosives in like 10 seconds and detonates him when Jack gets close. But, yawn, Jack notices, dives and lives. Dabako! just walks right out of the building and gets on a bus.
From there he calls his other Secret Service spy, the one who didn’t get floppy-tackled of the balcony last episode, just as he finds that body and a now-mobile First Dude. I’m glad to see this storyline is getting tied to the main one because maybe soon I will care. Dabako! asks what happened and SSspy says “Everything was going according to plan and then something went wrong.” Thanks. Dab! orders him to bring First Dude to him, and fails to mention that he’s on a bus and that Bad Guy HQ was busted up, because, eh, details.
Back at Bill & Chloe’s Bungalo, Jack, goes against everything we know about him and convinces everybody it’s time to call the government and let ’em know what’s up. He has a point, I think. Now that CIP device is smashed, ya’ll can just go home because job well done, threat averted, etc.
Mutobo calls Madam Pillowface and says he’s free thanks to some secret pals. He says, “we’ll come visit you at the White House in 10 minutes aka next week.” Tony says he’ll sit this one out, since he’s an undead criminal and all. Jack makes him swear to turn himself one everything is over, except isn’t it all over, really?
Who cares about Dabako!? He’s a nobody now. At the end of the episode he goes back to his crummy apartment. His waitress girlfriend stops by and says hope you didn’t forget we’re visiting my parents tonight. Damn. One hour ago he was the most powerful man on the planet. Now he’s stuck having dinner with the gf’s m&d. Ugh. Small talk.
1 Pesticide Patriot
2 or 3 Dabako! henchmen
1 Explosive Supernerd
Every Monday, sometimes impossibly late on a Monday, The Showdown tells you who to see and where to see ’em.
|Millionaires. Hence the money.|
Monday: NYC rockers Semi Precious Weapons (see video below) bring their glammed out Hell on Heels winter tour to Old City. Lead vocalist Justin Tranter’s impressive make-up and witty quips are well worth the cover charge. With Von Iva & Nico Vega. At the Khyber. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $10.
TuesdayTHURSDAY (thank you, comments section): Former Starbucks “Pick of the Week,” folk rock siren Sonya Kitchell swings by the Tin Angel with expressive vocals and heartfelt songs. With John Shannon & Theresa Andersson. 8:30 p.m., tickets are $10.
Wednesday: Millionaires. Okay, these chicks are kind of ridiculous but totally fun. They also have really cool hair, so check out their sexed up electro rap and make sure to dance a lot. With Cash Cash, I Set My Friends On Fire & Watchout! There’s Ghosts. At the Barbary. Doors at 5:30 p.m., tickets are $12.
Thursday: Quit listening to Icky Thump. Try the Black Keys instead. With Heartless Bastards & Patrick Sweany. At the Electric Factory. Doors at 8:30 p.m., tickets are $25-27.
Friday: Philly’s Hoots and Hellmouth serve up a set list of foot stomping folk and roots. With The Spinto Band, Illinois, The Swimmers & Slo-mo. At Mandell Theater. Doors at 7 p.m., tickets are $10.
Saturday: West Philly punks Pony Pants need a new van. Some jerk stole their old one. Wanna help out? Grab some friends and head over to Danger Danger Gallery for their Stolen Van Benefit show. The lineup rocks, plus it’s for a good cause, so there’s no excuse not to go, right? With Barking Spiders, Northern Liberties, My Mind, Bear Is Driving, Serpents of Wisdom & Thin Hymns. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $10.
Sunday: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart make dreamy indie pop with guy/girl vocals at KFN. If you’re a fan of New Wave, the Smiths, and cardigans, this show will make you smile, swoon, and sway. With Brown Recluse Sings & Depreciation Guild. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $10.
It sounds like a concept hatched by stoned new agers, or maybe a drunken joke: the story of Enron, whose nefarious business strategies became the most meteoric rise-and-fall tale in corporate history, told through interpretive dance.
But if anyone in Philly was going to do it, it had to be the Rebecca Davis Dance Co., which seems to have a knack for adapting subjects that don’t lend themselves to dance into dance performances. “Greed: The Tale of Enron” was an ambitious and difficult project from the moment of conception, and the full house owed itself in no small part to the curiosity of the audience that wanted to see just how in the world this would be pulled off. At its best, the show is powerfully innovative and spot on in its depiction of corporate malfeasance, exploding with the mania that consumed the company’s villains. At its worst, it’s a jumbled, confusing narrative, a reminder of just how limited the language of ballet can be.
If you don’t know the story of Enron, don’t expect “Greed” to teach you. While the program offers a skeletal story of the energy company that was poised to become the largest in the world and was brought down by lying about its earnings, the show is mainly meant to dramatize what people already know. To ensure the audience doesn’t become completely lost — and to convey the media sensation of the whole debacle — static reproductions of radio newscasts boom from the sound system, and this is how “Greed” begins.
Find out how "Greed: The Tale of Enron" ends after the jump. (Yes, Clifford Baxter kills himself.)
A projection of the Supreme Court displays on the semi-transparent stage screen as we hear about Enron CEO Jeff Skilling’s plea for innocence. The Supreme Court brilliantly turns into the iconic tilted E and floats in front of Skilling (Troy Macklin) as he walks onstage. Enron employee Rebecca Mark (Vanessa Woods) joins him, and the newscast turns into grungy techno as Mark and Skilling flowingly shake each other’s hands while they move up the stage.
As a narrative, “Greed” tends to falter. The dancing itself is always masterfully executed and mostly imaginatively choreographed. But here, Mark and Skilling appear as co-conspirators instead of the rivals that they are. In “Greed,” it’s repeatedly difficult to determine if the characters are joyous or somber. And it’s most difficult when Davis uses ballet instead of a modern style. Was that pirouette expressing greed, or was it expressing conflict? Classical ballet also generally looks anachronistic here, a show in which A Perfect Circle broods from the speakers and a horde of suited corporate legions dominate the stage. It’s confusing why Davis took certain movements of a modern story, put them to modern music and then used an archaic physical language to convey them.
The best parts of “Greed” come during modern dance movements, and ironically, the best parts come in what some would expect to be the hardest parts to interpret, like moments of accounting fraud. After the Skilling/Mark opening, Kenneth Lay (Ian Dodge), donning a flamboyant gold vest and tie under his suit, struts to front center and exudes Lay’s inner prowess. (In one of many funny internal moments, I thought of the actual late Lay — grayed, bald and stout, and nothing like the Jude Law-doppelganger Dodge — being this nimble and dazzling in the boardroom.) Behind him, nameless employees tinged in gold light shimmy back and forth over E-branded tables and then bow down to Lay. Davis does well in showing the fervent devotion toward the company’s higher-ups.
She does equally well when she’s showing the unbridled money lust of Enron’s board members and executives. In a particularly striking scene in which Lay and Skilling present their strategy to the Board of Directors, Clifford Baxter — the guilty conscience of Enron who eventually takes his own life — sits motionless at the board table while everyone else loses their minds to blaring, dark electronic rock, throwing their hands in their air and signing off on the company’s practices.
There are enough of these brilliant scenes to make up for some god-awful instances elsewhere in “Greed,” and Joshua Schulman is masterful enough with his lighting that there’s at least something visually captivating at any given point. But it seems Davis tried to tell too much of the story and fell into peripheral territory, like the love story between Skilling and Rebecca Carter (Lauren Putty), or the use of Rebecca Mark as a main character. Unfortunately, including these frivolities meant omitting the entire real-life ending. At the end, Skilling is nervous, Baxter kills himself, and that’s it. No trial, no Senate hearings, nothing about the second half of the story. Which is too bad because it’s all so important. That, and I would have liked to see Barbara Boxer prance around onstage.
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