Forget Cassettes and Ever Thus The Deadbeats
Saturday, Sept. 30
The night started with a loose house last Saturday at Locals Only. And it started two hours late. I know, I know, I should have known better than to show up at 9:30 for a 9 p.m. show, but something was telling me to get there on time. And that something must have been the part of me that loves a good wait.
As the tall people wearing glasses and the short people sporting bushy beards started filing in, forming clumps of inside parties, telling their own inside stories and jokes that are funny only to them, the Kyle half of DJ duo Twin Peaks (the other half is his identical twin Cameron) quashed what looked to be the hipster revolt of 2006 by playing Iggy Pop, Blondie, Raconteurs, Beck and other staples as the crowd waited for something to happen on stage.
Forget Cassettes from Nashville was the first thing to happen. They showed off their Tennessee roots by plunking out a form of rock that effectively produces a menage a trois of early 20th century Bayou blues with old west themes of longing and excessive drinking, and hardcore screaming guitars that drive their songs with a murderous force. With Beth Cameron, Aaron Ford and Jay Leo Phillips forming the trio, the predominant sound of Forget Cassettes is like a train barreling down the Swiss Alps, picking up more and more momentum as it collides into your ear drum, taking you to those dark places of your psyche where you can see skeletons of regret and heartache every time you blink.
And it makes you want to crack some skulls.
Immediately after Cassettes came the Zappa-esque Everthus the Deadbeats. It’s like the circus, but not fun. Sure, they had something upbeat and psychedelically danceable. What they didn’t have, unfortunately, was much of anything else. While I must admit that there were folks on the floor grooving to the beats, as soon as the skinny mutton-chopped ringleader of this quintet started growling “Godliness” with his lips so close to the microphone he was practically fellatio-ing it, I was ready to bolt. Although some might describe this nightmare of an experimental band as an ensemble with a lot of potential and a cheerful melody that gets overpowered by shrill vocals, someone else might say, and this is a direct quote, that “This makes me want to shoot myself in the face.”
I guess we all have our preferences.
Jesus camp, Blue Man-style
Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar Tour 2.0
Sunday, Oct. 1
The conceit of How to Be a Megastar Tour 2.0 is that the three blue men are learning how to be rock stars. An instructional program — along with Ron Popeil-style commercial interruptions — describes proven methods to ascend the ladder to megastardom.
Blue Man Group has its cake and plays it too. The show functions both as a rock concert and as a satire on rock concerts. The musical emphasis is on percussion as nearly half of the eight band members are beating on drums. Add to that the three blue men, who play a variety of percussion instruments, most notably the PVC pipe organ that sits centerstage, its plastic tubing snarled and coiled as if some modernistic monster spilled its entrails.
Fascinating video accompanies the songs and elaborate props keep us wide-eyed, while the blue men descend into the audience to root around in a woman’s purse or stick a camera into a man’s mouth.
We in the audience are also an integral part of the instructional program; we’re taught to thrust our fists into the air, raise the roof, hop up and down, yell on cue, etc. When we all get going, paying rock homage in raucous simultaneity, it’s like being at Jesus Camp, except that the deities are bright blue.
And what of them, these men of blue? Always curious, always in search of something to do or play, the blue men are childlike in their behavior, wide-eyed and sometimes even a little sad. In other words, there’s much more character to glean from these beasts than their homogeneity would otherwise suggest.
— Jim Poyser
Monday, Oct. 2
Paul Oakenfold, possibly the world’s top DJ at this point, didn’t need an introduction when he spun at Talbott Street Monday; the moment his floppy mane of hair appeared above the DJ boards the crowd went completely nuts, and camera phones shot up into the air like lighters during an Aerosmith power ballad.
Talbott Street’s got a new sound system and Paul Oakenfold pushed it to the max.
The whole place feels like it has a fresh coat of paint, what with the trademark multimedia shows and big screen projections about two orders of magnitude bigger than last time Oakenfold dropped by. It’s all timed with clockwork accuracy, tying in the visuals, lighting and strobes into one seamless effect.
So what makes a guy like Oakenfold, you know, OAKENFOLD? Writers like me spend column inches trying to figure it out, trying to explain the exact beat and rhythm that makes it work, like it’s a mathematical formula and if you could only solve it, you’d reach stardom. Jungle plus house plus techno equals tall dollars. Doesn’t quite work like that. At the core it’s all about connecting with the audience. And not just in an immediate hey-how-ya-doin’ kind of patter; in fact, his personal manner was kind of distant.
No, I’m talking about a deeper language here, the kind of precision stimulation that can send an audience throbbing and pulsing as one, getting everyone’s hands in the air and swaying, as if at a religious revival, through a single, elegant beat-match. It’s about finding something new, that turn of musical phrase you haven’t heard before, and it’s in those in-between moments that Oakenfold thrives. His music is not a single nonstop high point; it’s an ebb and flow that drives to explosive peaks and retreats just as fast.
Which isn’t to say he’s still not pulling from the classics; I couldn’t tell for sure, but it sounded like his rendition of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” chorus drew from both ZZ Top (the old school, pre-MTV bluesy stuff) and the “Tainted Love” underbeat. I heard everything from bluesy soul to straight-up metal riffs, and a lot of 1970s and 1980s in between.
Every so often someone reached up across the top of the DJ booth, skittering fingers across the barely-reachable boards. No idea what they were doing; possibly trying to touch the hem of his robe, tap into a bit of that magical Oakenforce. Maybe they’re onto something.
-Paul F. Pouge