Harry Potter and the confusing band names: Last Tuesday, I caught the Pernice Brothers and the Sadies at The Earl. The Sadies played first. Despite their moniker, they are not a group of teenage girls who ask boys to school dances, but rather a Toronto-based alt-country band whose music somehow manages to reconcile hillbilly, surf and Western movie soundtracks, often in the same song. For those of you who don't know, alt-country is country music you're allowed to like. Y'alternative!
Early in their set, one of the Sadies' guitarists broke strings on both of his guitars. Rather than throw a fit and go home as I would have done, he coolly took the other guitarist's back-up guitar and played the next couple of songs fantastically. I would salute him for showing the terrorists that we Americans have unyielding determination, except he's Canadian.
The Pernice Brothers are another misleadingly named, yet excellent band. While the group does in fact include two actual Pernice brothers, it also includes a woman (by definition, ineligible for brotherhood) and, rather confusingly, the drummer from the Sadies. They play elegant, richly textured, soulful, very melancholic pop songs. Like my favorite sad people, Joe Pernice has a sense of humor about his melancholy. The band was selling T-shirts with "I Hate My Life" printed on them.
Pernice explained how the band tried to take the "I Hate My Life" shirts into Canada to sell at shows, but were blocked by Canadian border officials for lack of proper documents. The band then returned to the U.S. border station to discard the shirts, where some U.S. border officials suggested, without irony, that the shirts be given to a local homeless shelter.
Harry Potter and the violent art opening: My non-musical event last week was The Contemporary's opening for Masking and Rear Window, a group show compiling violent, sensational and violently sensational photographs. The show mingled photos of real violence with fictional "Hollywood" death images, including a print of Laura Palmer's dead body from David Lynch's "Twin Peaks."
The largest space in the gallery was devoted to Klansmen, a series of larger-than-life color portraits of masked Ku Klux Klanspersons by Andres Serrano. Serrano isn't much of a portraitist, despite his pioneering work in the medium of urine-soaked crucifixes. Outside the gallery, a group held a vigil memorializing victims of the Sept. 11 attacks by reading their names aloud and tying ribbons in their honor. Walking past a memorial for victims of the most sensational act of violence I've ever seen dulled somewhat the intended sensationalist impact of the photos.
Harry Potter and the Charity Rock Show: Simultaneously indulging my twin loves, hard rock and cafes, I ventured downtown Friday night to Hard Rock Cafe for the Thanksgiving Rock Feast. Sponsored by Avatar Studios, 360 Media and 99X, the event wasn't actually a feast, but rather a fundraiser for the needy. Ten bands for $7 for five hours (or so) made for a fine local rock music bargain. Attendees included Butch Walker, formerly of Marvelous 3, currently marvelous on his own.
The strangest band of the night was a local hard-rock group called the Enigmatics. Their singer, who goes by the name Shangri-La, has a hilariously exaggerated "rock" persona that includes two-toned hair, a sheer black shirt, enormous hoop earrings and an uncanny ability to end all of his sentences with the word "baby." Examples include, "We're the Enigmatics, baby," and "We're gonna get the hell out of here on the love machine, baby." It's as if eager teenage space aliens got their hands on all of the ingredients to make rock 'n' roll, but couldn't quite follow the recipe, baby.
Harry Potter and the new wave legend: Before you send me an e-mail chastising me for my narrow music selection, note that the De La Soul show for Sunday was canceled. Instead I saw Glenn Tilbrook, formerly of Squeeze, play an acoustic solo show at Variety Playhouse. Squeeze has frequently been compared to mid-period Beatles. Since Tilbrook was the band's singer and lead guitarist, Sunday's show was the Beatle equivalent of seeing Paul and George.
His set was mostly Squeeze songs with some selections from his new solo album. He joked a lot about his lack of commercial success and the almost empty theater, at one point even jumping off stage and running to the back of the theater to reassure the audience that he wouldn't be offended if they wanted to sit all the way in the back. He also graciously took requests from the audience, essentially becoming our very own Squeeze jukebox.
Not surprising at all.. Most of America is a sprawling-strip mall dotted-suburbia speckled-freeway.
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