Archive: March, 2011
A perfect complement to weekly dude column "Man Cave," Jillian Weir-Reeves' "I Am Woman" adds a feminine touch by chronicling the weekend adventures of a single social butterfly in the city of sisterly love.
Even though I was surrounded by strangers — and they were all wearing masks — I somehow felt at ease. The music was loud enough to cancel out the various conversations, but low enough not to cancel out my internal dialogue that bubbled with excitement.
At first, when a friend of mine suggested the idea of attending a masquerade ball, I was turned off. It's hard enough to break the ice when you're in a room full of people you don't know, but if they're all wearing masks? Feels like deliberate avoidance. But after a week full of never-satisfied bosses (ed. note: not it!), grumpy professors and demanding friends, I wanted to take a break from this face-forward life of mine. I figured, it'd be nice to play pretend and be someone else for just one night. After all, it was my first weekend off in a while — and I already had a dress.
Monday: An offshoot of the world-fusing West Philadelphia Orchestra, Hershel Songs is perhaps more orchestral than its parent group. Percussionist/bandleader Gregg Mervine has composed many pieces that might not have fit into the WPO’s manic catalogue. Hershel Songs is the outlet for Mervine’s more theatrical creations; his experience writing ,for and performing in theater settings gives Mervine a keen sense of tonality and mood. w/ Larry Goldfinger, Shinjoo Cho & Chris Coyle, 9 p.m., $5, Tritone, 1508 South St., 215-545-0475.
Tuesday: Brothers and sisters, unite! The Sonic Liberation Front brings the high-energy, afro-beat improvisation direct to you. Though they might sound like some aggressive musical militia, the guys are truly virtuosos. Whether you’re into jazz, worldbeat, rock or funk, the SLF’s big, big sound moves through and gives plenty of time to each of those and more. Try to keep up but don’t forget to enjoy the journey. w/ The Horrible Department, The Love Club & Touch, 8 p.m., $5, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919.
Wednesday: Back with a new album for 2011, those adorably bleak Danes, The Raveonettes, have a lot to share. Raven In The Grave, out in April, is a much darker record than the duo has ever turned in before. They’re still bound to play some of their older favorites, but the latest batch is more likely to make you slowly sway than bop. No matter, Sune Rose and Sharin always put on a fun show, regardless of their sonic heaviness. w/ Tamaryn & Nothing, 9 p.m., $15-$23, TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-1011.
Thursday: The torch-bearers of retro jangle pop, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, have regrouped after a year on the road. With a new record, Belong, boasting a much bigger, more modern sound, The Pains are growing up, and fast. Still, the sound of shyness pokes through plenty in the new set. With a heavier reliance on studio magic, The Pains’ new songs will likely receive a more scaled-back treatment in concert, unless they’ve managed to bottle that radness, too. w/ Twin Shadow & Creepoid, 8 p.m., $12, First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., 215-563-3980.
Friday: The Residents, best known for not being known at all, tour more than a band of their iconic mystique probably should. In case you missed them the last time they materialized in town, you’re in luck. Not only are the oddballs returning, but they’re still on their Talking Light tour. Featuring an assortment of songs, stories and asides, Talking Light is one of the more straightforward (by Residents standards) creations in years. If you never knew where to start, start here. 8 p.m., $25-$50, World Café Live, 30th St. & Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
Saturday: Not too many people can claim the title ‘post-punk bass player to the stars.’ Mike Watt can, though, as he’s performed with countless luminaries since D. Boon’s death ended the Minutemen. After working with Iggy Pop, Sonic Youth and Nels Cline, Watt returns to his own work with Hyphenated-Man, a collection of thirty brutally brief blasts of jagged character studies. It’s a rock opera of sorts, and Watt’s penchant for storytelling adds another layer of intrigue to his already captivating music. w/ Caterpillar and Split Red, 9 p.m., $12, North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St. 215-787-0488.
Sunday: By now, you should know that any band that calls itself the “Hot Club of ______” is sure to have some gypsy swing influences. The Hot Club Of Cowtown doesn’t buck that trend so much as expand the possibilities and range of a gypsy swing band. HCC’s most recent album, What Makes Bob Holler, is a tribute to the music of western swing legend Bob Wills (a cornerstone of the Hot Club’s influence). Crafting a cinematic frontier of galloping fun, The Hot Club is cookin’ up a hootenanny, the likes of which most city folk have never seen. w/ Philly Rhythm Kings, 7:30 p.m., $19.50-$30, Sellersville Theater, 24 West Temple Ave., 215-257-5808.
New York indie buzz-band Cults brought their lo-fi fuzzy psych to John Brenda’s for a short, intimate set, requesting the lights turned way down and the sound way up.
The core of Cults is singer Madeline Follin and guitarist Brian Oblivion, but they do bring a backing band along on tour. Their sound features distant guitar riffs, echoed and emotional vocals, and playful xylophone chimes — all adding up to some eerie, trancey, haunting rock ’n’roll.
The set was solid. Follin marched in place, bellowing out the chorus of “You Know What I Mean” and the crowd swayed to the delightful melody of “Go Outside,” a darling of the blog world. I particularly enjoyed “The Curse,” a bluesy cry with a wailing chorus that you can feel deep down in the bottom of your soul.
Overall, I was really impressed. Culs maintain a cool, reverb-heavy and fuzz-box sound, while implementing catchy hooks and pop sensibilities into their song writing. After the show I talked to Follin at the merch stand. She told me to look for Cults’ debut album to drop in late May and to expect to see the band back in Philly sometime in June. Until then you can check out their Daytrotter session.
Imagine it’s 1998 again: The sounds of post-grunge and pop boy-bands pollute the radio waves. Bill Clinton is in office, the economy is stable. We aren’t at war with three different Middle Eastern nations. That was also the year Queens of the Stone Age released their debut self-titled album. Creating what Josh Homme (former guitarist of legendary stoner-metal band Kyuss) describes as “desert rock,” Queens of the Stone Age was born as a stoner-band, complete with dark, grimy guitar riffs, distorted bass lines, and heavy drop-C tuning, but with an uncanny knack for writing catchy pop songs. In an attempt to bring back the feeling of ’98 and promote the reissue of their classic first record, Queens’ latest tour had them playing their debut in its entirety, along with a B-sides, rare tracks, and fan favorites from the entire Queens catalogue.
It was a packed house at the Electric Factory on Thursday night. The motley (and sometimes douchey) clumps of stoners were slammed up against each other, all fighting for a better spot to head bang. When Queens of the Stone Age took the stage they created not only an ambiance, but also a mindset with their stage and music. As blistering backlights burned behind the band and the hazy mix of fog and THC filled the room, it really felt as if you were in the deserts of Southern California watching a band zone out and jam. The towering 6 foot 3 Homme, along with guitarists Troy Van Leeuwen and Michael Shuman, drummer Joey Castillo, and bassist Dean Fertita, proceeded to rock the house with one classic after the other. Together, they played a set that you could not only hear, but also feel in the pit of your gut. The thick and heavy sound made you feel like you had motor oil running throughout your veins.
Last night’s season three finale of Jersey Shore encompassed everything we’ve come to expect from this season. There was verbal abuse of women, drunk cooking, pot stirring and poop. Lots of it. Especially poop. We were spared the grenades, though. Phew!
We start back where we left off last week. Ronnie’s about to punch Sammi for hooking up with Arvin… before she had ever even met Sam. Mike eggs on Ronnie and tells him that Sam is lying when she says it never happened. “I feel like the joke’s on me. I feel like a fool.” This is new? Where have you been all season, Ron? Sam then breaks down, admitting that she never made out with Arvin. Only, when she says “never,” she means except for the whole year she was 21. She and Ron go out on the patio to cry together in their black hoodies and Sammi apologizes to Ron. He gives Sam a shot at redemption, which, like most girls with no self-esteem, probably comes in the form of a sexual favor.
The next day is the last day at the Shore Store. Danny hosts a barbeque for the gang in honor of all they did for him over the summer, like Snooki pooping while on the clock, Mike taking naps and food breaks, and Ronnie sobbing violently (the way he does everything) in the bathroom. Their non-existent hard work is rewarded with a fiesta that features a who’s who of the shore. The get-together is harder to get into than Deena’s denim onesie because each person can only bring three guests. JWOWW, of course brings Roger and her father, who was a cross between and older Kid Rock on a bad day (are there any good days for Kid Rock?) and Professor Dumbledore. Vinny brings his Creepy Uncle Nino and Deena brings a few of her friends from home. JWOWW almost kills a few on-lookers when she smashed the piñata, Deena Jersey Turnpikes Uncle Nino as Pauly DJ’s and everything is going smoothly. That is, until, Vinny tells Deena that she is the new Angelina when she stops him from hitting on her friend, Lisa. “Being called Angelina is, like, one of the worst things you could ever be called,” says Pauly. Low blow.
"3D gaming without the glasses—and the system fits in the palm of your hand."
That’s how Nintendo is billing its 3DS, basically a three-dimensional Game Boy, which comes out this weekend. I’m not normally a guy who runs out to see the latest gadget, but I was both impressed by this idea and a bit skeptical. For my generation, video games began with Super Mario Bros. — brightly colored, pixilated, two-dimensional. How did we get to this point?
When I first played a friend’s Nintendo, I was hooked by the idea of controlling a character. I could be another person, a person whose life was a lot more interesting than mine: Mario shot fireballs, he ate strange mushrooms, he plumbed (do plumbers plumb?). The idea of “graphics” never really crossed my mind: This was just what video games looked like.
Then came Genesis and Super Nintendo. Suddenly, the visuals were sophisticated enough to care about, yet still simplistic enough that game designers had to work within severe limits. Those limits forced real creativity: How do you make rain look real? How do you make a character’s movements convincing? As designers cleverly worked around the limitations, it became possible to see video games as a crude art form.
Fear and desperation corrupt the women in Jacqueline Goldfinger’s Southern Gothic-meets-dark comedy one-act, the terrible girls.
Three waitresses are tightly cuffed — first by their misfortunes, and then to each other. In the kitchen of a Florida diner off the I-10, proudly upright Birdie (Zura Johnson) bickers with the oversexed Gretch (Kristyn Chouniere) while both look after slow-as-molasses Minnie (Amanda Schoonover). Gretch tries to get Birdie a man and some fun before she dies, while Birdie tries to keep the devil away. It’s hard to see what makes these girls so terrible … until the first murder.
All are abandoned in some way and run the diner in loyalty to their absent benefactor, Mr. Witherose. 3 Women comes to mind, and the terrible girls shares a certain amorphous realism. There is no telling how long Mr. Witherose, the diner’s owner, has been gone, and his reasons for leaving are a mystery. Birdie and Gretch both wait for their prince to return and sweep one of them away, while Minnie simply wants to stock the bar and keep her makeshift family together.
No cavernous plantation house exists to hide the women’s piling misdeeds, and the questions that arise stay with you long after the actors take their bow. Sharp comic timing brings a vital levity to the cutting plot twists and nightmarish revelations. It’s an interesting examination of need for authority, whether real or imagined, that keeps us in the most precarious situations. Emotional needs beat logic to the truth in this pressure-cooker drama.
You’re kind of connected to this divine silliness.
I called up comedian Eddie Pepitone to chat, and he just rolled stream-of-consciousness style through an entire interview’s worth of info. I never even asked any questions. Here it is (almost) in its entirety, mostly unedited.
Eddie Pepitone: Hi Ryan. I’m staying in New York. Do you mind if we just start talking? I’m from New York. I’ve been living in LA for the last 8 years, and it’s taken me, for some reason, over a year and a half to get back to New York this time. So right now I’m sitting on my friend’s back porch, it makes me feel like an old guy, like I wanna feed the squirrels or something…
Doing comedy is like going to war, on stage. I was just thinking about it just now as I was drinking my coffee, I go back and forth between having this incredible confidence in what I do on stage and this incredible doubt about what I do. When I’m feeling really good I feel like I could do anything on stage. Like, I had two shows last night in New York. I started out addressing the audience, “Hello corporate whores!” Whenever I say stuff like that I’m always half-kidding and-half serious.
Well, the audience didn’t take it well...
But I feel like I’m at the point where I can rescue any set, but I had to work hard. And when comedy becomes work, you might as well sell shoes… Comedians get into it in order to have this ecstatic, funny… televangelist...
When you’re doing well it’s like you’re preaching. Not in any kind of negative way. You’re kind of connected to this divine silliness. And last night, the first show I did, it was such a contrast, I kinda love performing in New York because I can bop around from club to club, and it’s always interesting to see the differences between shows and crowds…. and me… If I have a better set later that night, it’s like, “okay, don’t call them corporate whores.”
I get cocky when I have really good sets for a long time, and then I get slapped in the face by an audience and it’s like, “who the fuck do I think I am?” Sometimes you never get out of it. An audience either loves you or hates you. If you ever here someone talk about a comics like, ‘meh’ they really don’t like them.
I like to do stuff with a political edge, because I feel like the corporations, the right wing, but the corporations in general have really fucked regular people. It’s a tricky thing for a comic because you have to have a strong point of view in order to be effective on stage and funny. I have really, really been angry, and now in Wisconsin, the Republicans wanna take away collective bargaining. I try to talk about this stuff in my set, because so many comics talk about their dick and minutia. And I think that’s fine, but I’m getting older. I’m 52, my dick barely works anymore.
For me and the audience, it’s good if you can really get into some things that affect people’s lives. And then you run into hard-asses, where people wrap themselves up in the flag, and military… I try to stay away from that. My first job is to be funny, and my first thing is to make fun of myself and my pathetic-ness… That’s why so many comics kill with relationship stuff. My girlfriend and I have run out of things to say to each other. We’ll have a long ride with an hour silence and then she’ll say out of nowhere, “Did you know the grey parrot lives to 200?” I’ll say, “You wanna fuck with me? I’ll tell you some shit about Sacco and Vanzetti...”
I go through these jealousy things… I’m 52, I have a big ego, I’m waiting for my big break. I did an audition for Larry David, and it was so great to do a scene with him. We did a funny scenario, where we were at a diner, and I had a computer. I asked Larry to watch my computer while I went to the bathroom, and Larry left and let a black guy watch it, and then the black guy walked off with the computer. In the scene we’re both arguing about it trying not to sound racist.
At this point I said something about Woody Allen movies, which sparked Eddie’s interest in another direction.
Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. Everybody is looking for ways to stop fucking our own lives up. That’s the thing with being a standup… there’s the craftsman and then the inspirational standup. I get loud and I like to hook in emotionally, but the writing thing is a struggle, to shape it out.
I’ll see ya in Philly.
Eddie Pepitone plays tonight, Friday, March 25, 8 p.m., $18, Connie's Ric Rac, 1132 S. Ninth St., 215-279-7587, brownpapertickets.com.
Devoted poet/avid concert-goer/nerd-grrrl extraordinaire Jane Cassady's weekly horoscopes run in this space every Friday morning.
In honor of tarot poem mistress Marty McConnell: a Tarot-Tastic Horoscope
Aries (March 21-April 18): (Happy Birthday Month, Aries!) The High Priestess: Disentangle yourself from everything but your inner mermaids, they know what to do: live on bioluminescence and sea monkeys. Float and listen. Get fat off the sea.
Taurus (April 19-May 18): Six of Coins: Mindy Nettifee says, “There are some things you can’t write yourself out of.” Give it all away instead. Seal up your regrets in shiny envelopes and float them down spring gutters, fly them away like kites, shred them into slightly sinister-looking Easter grass. It’s a good way to be generous to yourself.
Gemini (May 19-June 21): Temperence: You’ve always been my favorite card, you and The Sun. You’re standing in clear water defying gravity pouring more water from one jar to the other. You balance everything good on your wings. But even serene expressions should be enjoyed in moderation. This week, be immoderate. Overspend on drinks, kisses, and time. The next day, you’ll still be a flowered field.
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