Jookabox, Oreo Jones x 90 lbs, DMA, Doog
Earth House, June 24
It was the beginning and the end Friday night at Earth House. The end for Jookabox, whose members gathered together for one last show, a few months after their breakup. The beginning for DMA, a new project by Jookabox lead singer David "Moose" Adamson.
Adamson and the rest of Jookabox — keyboardist Lisa Berlin, bassist Benny Sanders and drummer Patrick Okerson — put aside their differences long enough to perform one final set, though they didn't gab much on stage, and no one was game for a tearful goodbye. Better to end with a celebration — after the band ran through a still-impressive batch of fractured pop songs (the bouncy "The One Thing"; the catchy, compact "Glyphin' Out"; the brisk "You Cried Me"), the backing track to show-closer "Don't Go Phantom" kicked in, the Know No Stranger dudes let loose a couple inflatable streamers (a la football end zone celebrations) and the crowd danced as one.
I expected a more immersive visual experience from Know No Stranger, who provided lighting and video. Still, what they delivered — screen saver- and iTunes visualization-style videos, a few lighting effects — upped the intensity of Jookabox's performance a bit.
If you haven't already checked out the video for Oreo Jones x 90 lbs's latest single, "Cordon Bleu," please do, maybe after you finish this review. The song is one of Oreo's best, with its share of absurd lines — "We going universal ham and swiss sandwich / We going ham, bitch," for instance — along with some catchy onomatopoeia ("boom, ticky, tock," with Jones as a bomb set to explode), a few dance instructions (realized charmingly in the video) and funky production with a sci-fi twist by 90lbs. It was the highlight of Jones's show, which featured a full band on bass, drums and turntables.
Jones plays the comedian at times, particularly as host of his public access-style cooking show, Let's Do Lunch. But on stage, he leavens his goofier rhymes and pop culture references with a genuine intensity. It ain't just party rap, in other words, and while Jones doesn't wow with verbal gymnastics or freestyle, he's a compelling, energetic rapper.
Would it be fair to characterize DMA, David Adamson's new project, as being in a transitional stage, inasmuch as it lacks the showmanship that characterized either flavor of Jookabox (solo or full band)? It edged towards boring to watch Adamson manipulating mixers and synths behind a table for about half an hour Friday night, given the intense, goofy, uninhibited solo performances he gave as Grampall Jookabox, what with their fancy dancing and wrist-mounted lighting.
That's not to say Adamson's new stuff, some of which was released Friday on his debut album as DMA, the tape-only Drem Beb, doesn't offer its own pleasures: "Riding Holiday" is a cruising anthem on PCP (or rather, some sort of dissociative drug that doesn't trigger violent reactions); "I Like Having Fun" tears it down to basics with its heavy, fuzz-bass simplicity — "I like having fun / I like getting the job done." And you can dance to DMA, for sure — or rather, you can "mom dance," Adamson's favorite kind of dancing these days.
For a minute or two there, I was impressed by Doog, a Bloomington singer-songwriter with an interest in seeing the "underlying meaning in structure," as he put it one of songs, as well as a taste for apocalyptic imagery, biblical or not — one song has him "drinking on the rooftop the night that she imploded / The sky was black, and I collapsed beneath his weight"; another will become part of a concept album about a battle between angels and demons for the soul of mankind. So at first I thought: oh sure, this guy is a little like Daniel Smith, singing Christian ballads for a secular indie-rock audience with a really weird approach to vocals (in Doog's case, they're very, very carefully enunciated). But someone in the crowd compared him to the folk singer whose guitar John Belushi smashed in Animal House — and well, I hear that too, and Doog's weaker stuff tends towards the hippy-dippy.