Archive: January, 2009
Bear is Driving, Rafter, Your Freedom Party, "The Dark Side of David Silver," Jan. 29, Danger Danger Gallery
There was an affable looseness to the proceedings last night at Danger Danger Gallery. It seemed to be affecting Rafter, in town from San Diego, who had to stop themselves short midway through an enthusiastically scattershot set: "Did I mention we have CDs? We're professional musicians!"
Frontman Rafter Roberts, a chatty, excitable redhead, was pleased as punch to be playing to the thinned-out 1:30 a.m. crowd, pausing in between bursts of spazzy quirk-pop to extol the virtues of going dancing with your honey and then having sex ("It feels good! And it creates emotional intimacy!"), and to muse on the everyday nature of tragedy (such as losing your cousin to a serial killer — apparently that really happened to him, though it might have been a strange joke). That was how he prefaced the brief, relatively somber song "Tragedy," before informing his drummer: "You don't know this one … just play the Addams Family beat." Then he turned back to the crowd to ask: "Wait, how does the Addams Family song go?" Pros they may be, with a couple of albums out on noted indie Asthmatic Kitty, but that didn't mean they were any less scrappy than the DIY local talent that filled out much of the rest of the bill.
Well, almost: Your Freedom Party, the West Philly duo of Matt Rubin and Joel Blecher, took that looseness to extremes in their short, sweet basement set earlier on. Favoring topicality over polish and tunefulness over intonation, they made their way, sometimes haltingly, through a handful of utterly simple compositions, most of them apparently written the day before the show, on subjects ranging from the future of Middle Eastern economics after the oil supply is depleted to Tony the neighborhood barber. There were some moments of real loveliness amid the unabashed amateurism, especially when Rubin swapped his cutesy Casio plinkings for an acoustic guitar to complement Blecher's cello figures on the more musically developed "25 to Life." More surprising, though, was the simple, affecting a cappella rendition of Depression-era standard "Brother Can You Spare A Dime."
|Your Freedom Party|
|Photo | Ross Hoffman|
There was no room for looseness, however, when Bear is Driving took the stage upstairs. The local instrumental outfit celebrated the release of its first CD The Adventures of Bear is Driving with precision triangle hits (timed to the unpredictable stop-start pauses of "All the Truth, None the Answer") played in front of a gilded Barack Obama wall hanging. Erik Osheim, who taps a sick six-string bass centerstage, sheepishly admitted at one point: "I'll probably crawl back into my cynical little hole at some point, but for now ... it's all about togetherness!" As intense and sometimes overwhelming as it was, the music seemed to echo that sentiment. BiD has figured out how to utilize math not just for the mindless indulgence of arcane virtuosity, but also for split-second showmanship, as with Dan Consiglio's polyrhythms that actually groove — there was not a stationary body in the crowd.
|Bear is Driving|
|Photo | Ross Hoffman|
The most curious item on the evening's agenda, which formed a sort ofintermission halfway through the festivities, was Eddie Sids' video-music piece "The Dark Side of David Silver," a mash-up of a complete Beverly Hills 90210 episode with an foreboding original score of electronic music and rock noises. To be honest, although the musical augmentations added some degree of enjoyment to the experience, they were hardly a match for the otherworldly strangeness of just seeing the show itself 15 years down the line.
I need to own this song. I need to hear it when I'm not at a desk. It's not out in the US yet.
Here's Ida Maria on MySpace.
Another video after the jump.
I forgot how much I loved this song. Didn't know there was a video.
|photos by Patrick Rapa|
"There's an old saying in the hobby: Whoever owns the cap, owns the pen."
—Vendor speaking to a potential customer (overheard)
I've been to some small lame conventions before (ahem, Kaiju-Con), so I was expecting the 2009 Philadelphia Pen Show to be miserable, nerdy and tiny. I was right about nerdy. The Sheraton Hotel mighty ballroom, site of last year's Henri David Halloween party, was wall-to-wall with tables. And miserable? Nah, for a pen show, the place was kind of happening. Not really. But, there were a lot of people there, anyway, and they were pretty enthusiastic. There was guy customizing fountain pen nibs and somebody else doing engraving. Lots and lots of tables bragging about rarities and reconstructions. Here's what I didn't realize going in: There are pen collectors.
I could see spending good money on a pen. Even though they're messy and fickle, I dig a good fountain pen. To write with. The ink just can't wait to get out. But some people at the PenCon were spending insane money on pens. $100? Nah. $300, $500, $1,000, more. Some were titanium monsterpieces of unchewable mass, some came in ornate boxes built for proud display. I picked one oaken pen up out of its cradle and considered its weight in my hands. Oh yes, I could kill a man with this. "That's a $10,000 blah blah blah," explained the vendor. I put it down. You know what's crazier than paying that much for a pen? Every table had pads of paper for test-writing. As in, people are using these things. As pens.
More pics after the jump.
|Wow! Exclusive Lunar Soil Simulant!|
Admit it — you want more from this week's Movies section.
Former CIA operative Bryan (Liam Neeson) has given up the risks and adrenalin in order to be closer to his teenaged daughter Kimmie (Maggie Grace). Never mind that she resents his earlier abandonment, or that her moither (Famke Janssen) is now married to the wealthy Stuart (Xander Berkley, who first appears here delivering a big black horse for the girl's birthday). Bryan is determined to rethink his life and priorities — until Kimmie rejects his advice and heads to Paris for a vacation with her blond best friend. Here Pierre Morel's movie breaks up into an action-horror-thriller mash. Bryan listens to Kimmie's kidnapping over the phone, then jets to France to retrieve her, within the 96-hour window suggested by experts in the girls-kidnapped-for-sexual-slavery business. Neeson is transformed by fast cuts and brutal effects into a Bourne-style professional killer, assaulting every smarmy pimp, gunslinger and john he sees, and confronting an old colleague, now Parisian police chief (Oliver Rabourdin) to boot. His adventure is not nearly so internal as those in the films this one copies, say, The Searchers or Paul Schrader's ferocious Hardcore. Where John Wayne and George C. Scott suffered mightily and had their views transformed during their experiences, Bryan's harsh, uncompromised, them-or-us take on the world is horrifically reconfirmed. —Cindy Fuchs (Click here to check out showtimes and buy tickets for Taken.)
Related: District B13
√ The Uninvited
Tom and Charlie Guard's stylish take on the 2003 Korean smash A Tale of Two Sisters sidesteps the typical half-assery that comes with the Asian horror remake territory thanks to a batch of surprisingly human performances. Young Anna (Emily Browning), institutionalized after she slits her wrists in grief over her bed-ridden mother's death in a freak explosion, returns to her idyllic lakeside home to join her author father Steven (David Straithairn) and party girl sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel). And then there's her — blue-eyed, blizzard-cold Rachael (Elizabeth Banks, swell against type), mom's old caretaker, who's now taking care of dad in a slightly different way. A series of bizarre circumstances leads Anna to believe that Rachael is actually a sadistic Poison Ivy-type plotting to off her and Alex to become the sole woman of the house. The brotherly directorial duo's feature-length debut is not entirely devoid of the hollow shock devices that have come to characterize this oft-more-silly-than-supernatural genre, but Banks and Browning's bile-filled exchanges do well at keeping you invested while you wait for the next spook. —Drew Lazor (Click here to check out showtimes and buy tickets for The Uninvited.)
Ice storms are no joke. Just ask Aziz Ansari. The Human Giant star canceled his show in Philadelphia last night after his flight was delayed. He plans on returning (we promise to tell you when!). In the meantime, he spoke with City Paper about more whimsical subjects than inclement weather.
City Paper: How would you describe your comedic style?
Aziz Ansari: I'd say it's a lot like some of the people I perform with like Patton Oswalt, Louis CK, David Cross, that whole scene.
CP: How do you find inspiration for bits?
AA: Usually I'll just be walking around and something happens and I'll write it down in my notebook. Then I try it out on stage and it usually takes seven or eight variations of a joke before I really land on one really well. I've never been able to just sit down and write jokes.
CP: You perform stand-up, sketch and even movie roles. How do you hone your skills as a performer?
AA: I tried doing stand-up in the summer of 2001, so it's been close to eight years in May. I had been doing standup in NY while I was in college at NYU. While we were doing that, me and some friends of mine were shooting short skits called Human Giant. So I was doing stand-up the whole time while I was working on Human Giant. Then we finished season two of Human Giant, and I've been working with Amy Poehler from [the producers of] The Office for a show on NBC. But I just found out that show was pushed back a few months because she was pregnant, so I had time to do a stand-up comedy tour.
CP: I'm sure you had nothing to do with her getting pregnant.
AA: Not at all.
CP: You mentioned a love for southern food and Indian cooking in our last interview. What is your favorite food?
AA: I don't know if I can pick one favorite food out. That's hard to narrow down. I like all sorts of food. I like hot dogs. I'm pretty much down for whatever with food. I go the extra mile to try something new.
CP: How was it like being raised in South Carolina, and then going to school and eventually working in New York City?
AA: I grew up in a very small rural town called Bennitsville in South Carolina, and New York City is the capital of the world. It's kind of a weird place. You don't really realize it while you are there. It was all I knew, so I didn't have a frame of reference to realize it was a really, really, really southern town. When I moved to NY, it's such a crazy place where so many people come to. Plus I was going to college with all sorts of people at NYU, so you're kind of in it there together. It was like I was going to college and exploring NYC at the same time.
CP: What was the funniest thing you've ever seen in your life?
AA: Pretty much anything I talk about in my stand-up. One time I saw a clown trip on a banana in a football field and fall into a cream pie. Then a bowling ball fell on his head.
AA: No, man.
CP: Any true stories?
AA: I was doing a show in Colorado and getting a lift pass at a ski resort. So I'm standing in line this guy asked me I was from, and I told him I grew up South Carolina but my parents came here from India to work, and he was like "Wow, you talk exactly like I do."
CP: Are you a fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship? You mentioned Ken Shamrock as your favorite fighter in our previous interview.
AA: I haven't seen the UFC stuff, but I've been in a few fights with Ken Shamrock. I was walking with my girlfriend and he started shit with us, so I fought him and it didn't turn out very well. Every time — and I'm not sure why I fought him multiple times — but he got me in an ankle lock every time and broke my ankle.
CP: Where would travel if you could go any place in the world?
AA: I really want to go to Tokyo. I have a few friends that have been there recently. It looks really awesome and I'm a big fan of sushi.
CP: So will we be seeing you on Season 3 of Human Giant?
AA: They offered us a third season, but I'm doing that as-yet-untitled show for NBC and scored a few movie roles, so we kind of passed on it. I work with my friends [Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer] from Human Giant for both seasons, and it's hard to find people that are on the same exact wavelength. MTV sort of left the door open for us.
I shot you and buried you alive. Bygones?
Featuring: A bunch of identical cabinet members, agents and bad guys.
Special Agent Larry Boring briefs the FBI on the current situation and when he gets to the part where Agent Renee Walker is kidnapped and feared dead he chokes up a little. Professor of Chloeology Janeane Garafalo complains about cloak and dagger crap interfering with her job. And I guess we’re supposed to notice what a bunch of by-the-book squares the Feds are as opposed to the now defunct CTU (I bet you they lay that on Nancy Pelosi at some point), but a suit’s a suit and a spook’s a spook. When Bill Buchanan’s your highest ranking rebel, you are a pack of lame-o’s. Some things never change, like the classic “Here, listen to this. Audio forensics cleaned up the recording.” Yeah freaking right.
Speaking of Bill: He and Chloe show up at Walker’s shallow grave, dig her up and give her an adrenaline shot. She coughs like a 3-packs-a-day lunchlady, but hey she’s alive. While Chloe tapes up the neck wound, Bill explains how this little rogue club is not affiliated with any federal agency.
Meanwhile, Jack, Tony and the worst background checking bad guy in the world are riding in a bright yellow bread truck once again hashing out the show’s cover story about why Tony’s not actually dead. Starting to make me wish we had an identical twin/Curly’s Gold situation. But we don’t. Tony’s a gruff, sub-vocal ex-agent ex-corpse ex-bad guy and we just have to buy that. Then the truck pulls over in an empty airplane hangar (all the planes are in the sky, you see) the dude grabs Jack and Tony caps him twice. (That’s one bullet for each time Tony has said the guy was like a brother to him.) The guy dies telling Tony to go to hell.
Jack unlocks Matobo (so that’s how you spell it!) and his wife and sings the “I’m a good guy, you have to trust me” song. Another fan favorite. And of course Jack’s plan involves, you know, doing exactly what the bad guy was gonna do: Deliver Matobo into the arms of his Sangallan arch-enemy: Dabako!
Dabako!, the highest ranking bad guy we know, ponders firing up the ol’ CIP SuperDoomsdayBFG to do some killing. Madam President Pillowface, keenly in tune with the criminal mind, anticipates this move and says she wants to speak directly to all first responders around the world, to prepare them for the worst. Be serious, 24.
How’s this for serious? Dabako! has his henchmen hook the CIP up to a vintage ColecoVision and aim a couple planes toward Washington. On the phone he tells the Prez to look out the window, and you can tell she’s hoping to see a Lexus with a big bow, but instead it’s a puff of Cheetos dust and smoke which we’re supposed to think very recently was a couple of planes. Dabako!!
Pillowface meets with he cabinet and reaffirms her stupid Sangallan invasion plan and refuses to bow down to terrorists/save civilian lives/listen to reason. At the table, she says “Go ahead, Tim, I wanna hear what you think.” When Tim says he thinks they should maybe ease up on Sangalla, you know, call it a day, save hundreds of thousands of lives, the Prez tells him to either quit or obey. Tim, she is no longer interested in what you think. Oh, Fox, you really miss Bush, don’t you? It’s so cute.
Jack meets up with the band at their practice space and tells Chloe to put a wire on Matobo. She glues a transmitter to his teeth. They hand Mr. and Mrs. Matobo off to some bad guys after a little firefight. The episode ends with Dabako! saying “begin,” but he doesn’t say what to begin so the next episode better start with some henchman saying, “and what would you like to begin, sir?”
What Else: The aforementioned Tim meets up with the snakelike chief of staff and says we have to change the President’s mind about whatever. Perhaps the First Dude can help? Nope. First Dude sits paralyzed (Medusa spider-style) while his dead son’s ex-gf shows up and is like why aren’t you talking? Then his bodyguard sneaks up, stabs her, and puts First Dude’s prints on the knife. First Dude un-numbs enough to kill the bodyguard. I still don’t care about this subplot, but floppy numb-people fights are high-larious.
Favorite moment of the evening:
Jack: You okay?
Walker: What do you think, Jack? You shot me and buried me alive.
1 Bad Guy Who Was Like a Brother to Tony
2 more other henchman
1 dead First Son’s girlfriend
21 people on small commuter jet
250 people (passengers plus crew) on flight 131 out of Chicago
?? people in residential neighborhood crash site
1 slimeball bodyguard (I hope)
Every Monday, sometimes really late on a Monday, The Showdown tells you who to see and where to see ’em.
|Live Set Disaster|
Monday: Orchestral sophistication with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Expect classy numbers by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Serebrier. With violinist Boris Garlitsky and conductor Roberto Minczuk. At the Perelman Theater, in the Kimmel. Doors at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $24-81.
Tuesday: Fond of beer and Friday night fights? Philly punks Live Set Disaster totally are. Watch them rock the M-Room tonight with the Parkway, Local Demise & Black Anchors. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $8.
Wednesday: Rhode Islanders the Low Anthem stop by Johnny Brenda’s to play some indie folk Americana. They’re pretty much the perfect soundtrack for January, so make sure to check them out. With Philly’s Birdie Busch. Doors at 9 p.m., tickets are $10.
Thursday: The Danger Danger Gallery presents Aquarius Raging 2009 with Asthmatic Kitty’s Rafter. In addition to sweet electro-indie beats, plan to be wowed by “The Dark Side of David Silver,” a trippy visual and auditory treat matching Eddie Sids tunes with 90210, Dark Side of the Moon, and the Wizard of Oz. With Sea Sick, Grandchildren, Bear Is Driving, Knotfeeder, the Mexico 1910, Your Freedom Party & Mega Mega. Doors at 7 p.m., tickets are $5-10.
Friday: Lykke Li is sold out, so swing by the Model Home instead. Gods & Queens with Auto Scroll, Snowing & Masato Tanaka. Doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $5.
Saturday: Chill out to Spirit and Dust’s mellow folky set. With Secondhand Musicians, the Beggers & 15 Keys. At the Fire. Doors at 10 p.m., tickets are $7.
Sunday: R5’s Punk Rock Flea Market is back again! Sell, trade, and buy anything from bikes to vinyl to vegan snacks. All proceeds will help R5 do what they do best, so show up and shop. At the Electric Factory. Doors at 10 a.m.-4 p.m., tickets are $3.
What if Will never left West Philly? Yeah it's from the crude fratmonsters at College Humor, but it's Philly, so.
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