Friday, June 13, 2008

Almatross and Gnossurrus at Evangelo's

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words so a video must be worth 1,000,000.

Here are 3,000,000 from Almatross and Gnossurrus, who brought out a small but enthusiastic crowd at Evangelo's on a cool Thursday night.

Can You Feel the Beat?

Sometimes you go to a performance (whether it be music, dance, a play, etc.) and in leaving you think to yourself, "oh, that was nice." You are generally satisfied and consider your money well-spent. It's a good night, you get coffee afterwards, you tell people you had a good time. you go home, watch the news, and fall asleep.

And sometimes you go to a performance and you leave without being able to say a single thing, but you can't stop talking because it was so amazing that the words are just falling out of your mouth, but how could words (measly, pitiful words!) ever do it justice? Coming out of that concert hall/theatre/arena, you are transformed. Nothing will ever be the same. It's like you just crawled out of a rabbit hole and took a look around and Holy Shit! There's sunlight and the grass is so green and you can't even think about drinking coffee because how could you ever need coffee again after that? On nights like these, the news doesn't matter. You can't sleep.

That's how I feel every time I see a Moving People Dance Santa Fe performance. This weekend, they'll be shakin' it at the Lensic as a part of their 4th Annual Santa Fe Dance Festival. I'm going tomorrow night; my whole family goes each year. This is MPDSF's only performance comprised exclusively of professional dancers (and some very disciplined apprentices). Here is where MPDSF rips open the rib cage of its repertoire to expose itself to the city of Santa Fe, throwing out new choreography and premiering its most engaging solos. It's combination of ballet, modern, jazz, indigenous, and cultural dance is unique and expansive. The talent and dedication of the dancers is obvious, but MPDSF's power moves beyond that. The movement of MPDSF communicates on a deeper level than pretty leaps and impressive acrobatics. It crafts messages for its audiences that can't be communicated through any other form.

In short, they are quite good. With the risk of sounding pushy, I suggest you go.

(Emily Pepin)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Stalking the Roots

OK, I'm not really stalking The Roots, but I have seen them three times in the last month or so and I'm going to catch them this Sunday, June 15 at the Kiva in Albuquerque. That show is going to be the cap in the feather of my Roots tour, because it is with Erykah Badu and is rumored to be an amazing show.
But first, Philly.
So when I saw The Roots in St. Louis last month, they played at Webster, for a college crowd, and really pushed the new album, and played a little hip hop montage and all that. I already knew I was going to see them in Philly at the Roots picnic, but they added a pre-show the night before at The Theater for the Living Arts (TLA), which was my favorite theater when I was growing up. By the time I landed in Philly, the Philadelphia City Paper had hooked me up and I had tickets to both shows.
The Roots didn't take the stage at the TLA until well after 1 am, but in the meantime, QuestLove had put together more than half a dozen other acts to open, each one better than the next. SantoGold, who a lot of folks had come to see (she had to cancel playing the Roots picnic, which, I gather, was the reason they added the pre-show) was phenomonal, basically combusting on stage with fantastic energy and a voice like a knife. Janelle Monae also was a huge hit; her voice is so profoundly beautiful, I kind of started thinking The Roots were going to have trouble topping the night after she performed. Of course, they did not. The TLA is such a small venue (800 seats, maybe), that they really dug into their roots (sorry), and it was a much more freeform and jazzy show than they had put on at Webster.
The vibe was completely different the next night at Penn's Landing, but I swear to God when Blackthought was rapping on Seed 2.0, it seemed just mind-boggling that anyone human could spit out lyrics so fast and so precise and so down. They were followed by Gnarls Barkley (I thought it was kind of odd and had expected The Roots would play last, although Quest came out and ended the show with Cee-Lo singing). Barkley was beyond incredible. And I had to think, the whole time, that as long as The Roots, and Erkyah Badu and Talib Kweli and Kanye West are all still out there, hip hip is not dead, and I don't care what anyone says. There may be lots of crap out there, but the really good artists are so good, they just drown it all out. And, one more show to go. Again, The Kiva, Sunday night, The Roots and Erkyah Badu. Yes, you will see me there.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

24 hours of ringing

Perhaps, as a friend suggested on my facebook page, I am getting old. Or at least old enough to need to invest in a pair of ear plugs. Last night at the Santa Fe Brewing Company the Detroit Cobras and X blasted through a 2-1/2 hour punk rock set that may have been the concert of the year. The crowd was wild, the band dead on and the old school punkers out in full force.

I knew the audience would be dead on as a group of friends and I, mostly dressed in the requisite black t-shirts, took stock of the retro punk band attire that the mostly 40+ crowd rocked. Residents, X-Ray Specs, etc. These were people who knew where they were. There was even a woman sporting a torn up 1982 X tour t.

Everyone waited with anticipation and the second the Cobras took the stage the crowd huddled in close for a listen. The altitude got to the band a bit and they staved off the lack of oxygen by passing around an inhaler--an activity that I thought never left the halls of junior high schools. Once they got their steroid kick they were on it. Such a fun band and an amazing amount of energy. They didn't want to stop their set but had to because of the 10 pm curfew.

I was pretty close to the stage during the Cobras and was pretty sure that I'd better go grab a beer before the changeover. Yeah, right. There were three lines for brew and each of them had a line some 30 people long. So I ditched that idea quickly and headed back to my spot. The little jaunt to the back also showed that tons of people were piling in and my place 3 rows from the stage was going to be a coveted one.

During the quick changeover some familiar faces from the local music scene started popping up all over the place. Bill Palmer from Hundred Year Flood was a few rows back and Sean O'Neal from the Late Severa Wires showed up in a fantastic Siouxie shirt. I was a little surprised when KBAC DJ Honey Harris disappeared though. She'd been grinning like the Chesire Cat throughout the Cobra's set and seemed pumped for the show. But it was Harris herself who got the chance to introduce the band and if she's had a smile before I don't know what to call the enthusiasm that had washed over her face for the intro.

Once X took the stage the crowd burst forward and my ear drums began to take a beating. The sound wasn't perfect, with vocals going in and out, but right up front it didn't really matter. Of the four members, Billy Zoom was definitely the most fun/creepy to watch. His face was set in a robotic "take my picture" pose while his hands threw out a series of complicated chords. Zoom certainly also had a thing for the ladies in the crowd, making direct eye contact and offering them to touch his guitar. It would have been way better from the back because both times he thrust the neck into my face and smiled like an overly Botox-ed Stepford Wife I was totally creeped out. Not hot Billy, not hot.

When the mosh pit broke out I used the pushing to my advantage to secure a spot a little closer to the center and front of the stage. My main advice for mosh pit movement is to use passive resistance. An "Oh my God I totally just got pushed/deer in the headlights" look helps too. Act like you didn't mean to move over a step and no one in front of you pushes you back. Works every time and soon I was second row and center. Which meant two things: No more looks from creepy face and distance from the speakers. There was a very small, probably 10-year-old boy with his dad to the left of me and I tried hard to make sure the kid was safe and having fun. By the look on his face I was guessing this was his first concert, which is awesome. He looked awestruck most of the time and just stared at the musicians. Once the pit got a bit more intense he smiled as he was jammed against bodies but realized he was completely safe. Eventually I was pushed all the way to the front and spent the end of the concert trying not to end up sprawled across the stage. I've got to give the security guys credit for keeping such a close eye on everything and immediately pulling out anyone who was having a problem.

I don't know X's music very well and don't spend the time that I used to listening to punk. I remember friends touting the band back in the day and I know I had a tape at some point, but we were more into the Operation Ivy wave of punk at that time. These guys were already legends by then, and as high schoolers often aren't, we weren't too interested in history. I wish I knew their songs better, but it really didn't matter. This wasn't a sing-along kind of show anyway. It was watching a band that has more than 30 years of musicianship under their belts, know their instruments in and out and have the energy of teenagers.

When 10 pm came they announced that they'd have to stop playing soon, that there had already been a few complaints about the noise, and quickly launched into another song. No one wanted to stop. The band looked like it could have played for another hour, at least, and the audience would have gladly screamed through the set, no matter how long it went on. In the end it's probably good. If they had kept going I probably wouldn't be able to hear my neighbors on their porch right now and I can barely hear the cars driving down the busy street that's only a block away.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008