Monday, March 23, 2009

Fancy Seeing You Here

Ok, so this post has been a long time coming, since the original incident in question took place last year on Labor Day Sunday. I was attending the last day of the Chicago Jazz Festival, headlined by Ornette Coleman. He had a quartet consisting of his son Denardo on drums, acoustic and electric bassists, and Ornette himself played violin as well as saxophone.

A funny thing happened though while I was watching Ornette - I noticed none other than Will Oldham being escorted by an usher down the aisle into the VIP seating. While I didn't manage to take a photo of him at first, he would leave the concert early and I was able to get an admittedly poorly lit picture of him departing. You certainly wouldn't realize it was him here unless I told you who it was, but it was indeed Mr. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy himself.

Also, here's a short video I shot of Ornette and band playing:

So, after Ornette finished, it was still rather early and I met up with my friend John Lee, who was watching Ornette from the lawn area, and we agreed to take the train to the Double Door to see Roky Erickson, making this night into a musical legends from Texas double bill, if you will. I hadn't eaten any dinner, so we went to a convenience store where I tried to buy a Snickers using a $20 bill, but the clerk refused to allow me to pay for it with a bill that large. I didn't have anything else, but thankfully a kind man behind me in line offered to buy it for me. Chicagoans are nice, especially when it comes to helping each other in food-related matters. We're now at the Double Door, hanging around during the opening band's set, when in walks Will Oldham again! I guess he had the same idea as John and I about the double-header. This time I was determined to take a better photo of Will, and especially wanted to get one of him and Roky in the same shot. You can see him in this one on the right side. He was pretty much at the front of the stage.

Roky was totally awesome, and the crowd was really into it. Definitely one of the best pure rock shows I've ever seen. Here's another video I shot of him and his band the Explosives performing the classic, "You're Gonna Miss Me":

So, a pretty amazing night of music, but I would be remiss if I left out that this night was also the beginning of a new bad TV obsession of mine (in a long line of them, notably Saved by the Bell, Knight Rider, and MacGyver). Once I arrived home after Roky, I wasn't ready for bed yet because I still hadn't eaten anything for dinner besides that Snickers. So I microwaved some food and looked for something good on TV. As I browsed through the channels, I chanced upon a Labor Day marathon of Beverly Hills, 90210. I had never really watched this show as a young adult, figuring it was mostly for girls, but of course I was aware of it (how could you not be). I thought this would be something decent to watch before hitting the hay, but I was quickly drawn in and stayed up to watch 2.5 episodes before going to bed after 2:00 am. The next day I tuned back into Soap Net to watch probably 7 or 8 more episodes of the marathon. While doing this, I found out that they normally showed 2 episodes a day, and even better, were showing the entire series in order! I have since made it up to the final season, somewhat embarassingly (even more embarrassing is the fact that I wrote more about watching 90210 than I did about Ornette and Roky).

So, this would be the end of the post if I had written it back in September. However, since it's now March 2009 and I happened to have seen Bonnie 'Prince' Billy perform here a little over a week ago, I figured I might as well include something about that to bring this thing full circle. Mr. Oldham was notably playing with Jim White on drums, who I know Biggie is a fan of.

Finally, here's a video of the group performing "A Minor Place" from the album I See a Darkness. Note the more upbeat tone of this rendition, compared to the album version:

Best Scrabble Tiles Ever

So this is from a month ago or so, when Shana and I took a weekend trip to western Michigan for a little R & R. We were playing Scrabble, and she had this set of letters that she wanted to show me. She was saying it was a pity that she couldn't lay them down all at once, and she wanted me to see them before she had to break them up into other words. You may think that this could not have really happened, that we faked it for the blog, but I promise you, she really drew this combination of tiles out of the bag:

And here's a close-up, in which you can further admire the floral bedspread at Martha's Vineyard Bed and Breakfast:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You know Finn's in Russia when...

We don't give him any grief about missing this can't-miss show! Stay warm, buddy, but not "on fire" warm.

For the rest of youse, do not miss...

The Improbable and Triumphant (Improbably Triumphant?) Return of Le Weekend!

Thursday March 12 - 10pm - I assume c.$5 but quote me not
@ The Nightlight

Borrowing liberally from the impeccable prose some heroic type who I can only assume is quite handsome wrote on my Facebook page:

Once upon a the-end-of-last-year, Le Weekend released a self-proclaimed "pretty decent" EP called Suite. Remember? We then had a release show also serving as two incredible members' last show, namely Erin and Ben, on keyboards and better-guitar-than-Matt respectively.

Thanks to a combination of 'encouragement' from friends, and our inability to apprehend the significance of the quotes around 'encouragement', RB, Bob Wall, and I (Matt Kalb) decided we can call it a number of things, but quits isn't one of them. Le Weekend is just that important to a couple people out there.

So this will be our debut as a trio, featuring app. 4 (update: 6) new songs and a re-imagining of some older material. And hopefully this somewhat excuses how much I wrote about my own band in this description.

We share the bill with:
-Durham's own Actual Persons (Living or Dead). Joyce and the Cantwells keep it gazy, or gauzy. They ushered away the quintet version of LW and they will usher in the trio version, like a midwife who also does funerals.

-The Antlers from Brooklyn (NY, not WI or one of those other Brooklyns). They've got an album coming out they hand-assemble when you pre-order, which is cool. Their mailing list lets you indicate if you live in "NY" or "Everywhere."

Conclusion: come on out and good luck not getting pregnant!

Monday, March 02, 2009

(----) In Russia Vol.15

You know you're in Russia when you are awakened at 6:30am by the smell of burning plastic, and you frantically wonder, "Oh shit, did one of my voltage converters blow up again?", which is followed by the thought that maybe your apartment is on fire, so you investigate and find nothing amiss inside and then realize, "well, fuck, it IS Moscow, who knows what the fuck that smell is?" and go back to bed, then learn after you wake up that a building next to yours caught on fire at 4am, and it's all over the news, and you don't think it will really affect you until you attempt to take a shower and nothing but fire-retardant chemicals come flooding out of the shower head, potentially removing years from your life and hair from your body, and then when you finally leave the apartment, the road outside your building is pure fucking chaos: 25 fire trucks, hoses everywhere and huge piles of said fire-retardant foam. See above.

More chaos. There was water pouring out of buildings and broken hoses alike; the fire had been out for FIVE FUCKING HOURS at this point. Don't question why the water was still on. Although it does explain why our apartment was only spewing foamy chemicals.

Yet more; note the amount of water pouring out of the side of this hose. The result of all this is that our water has been completely cut off since the chemicals got into our water supply (and onto my person). What year are we living in when a fire in one building means no one in the next building gets to use the water?

Last week was a holiday: "Day of the Defender of the Homeland", aka "Man's Day." The billboards around the city, which at this point are usually empty because of the financial crisis (no one has money to advertise), were full of ads like this one, which reads, roughly, "What a profession! To defend the homeland!"

Another one, this time with a dude hiding in the snow. What I want to know is, who is trying to invade Russia? What is here that is worth invading for? If you wanted to take over something that was smelly and falling apart, then by all means, it can be found here.

As promised. Dog in a hoodie in the metro. I had to be sneaky with this one, so it's a little blurry, but it looks just like Spuds Mackenzie.

Keeping with the animal theme, here are some Valentines' Day decorations from a friend's place.

Detail of "SEXY" banner. Notice how: A. The kitten's body is way disproportionate to his head. B. He is wearing heart-patterned boxers. C. He is holding those boxers open. D. Heart-shaped pheromones are wafting out of his boxers upwards towards the lady kitten, who is too fucking scary to mention further.

The Toby Keith of cats advertising March 8, which is another national holiday in Russia, Women's Day.

Natural refrigeration.

Destruction: Lincoln Hancock's new band.

The ubiquitous lemons that come with vodka shots to trick your mouth into thinking you didn't just consume chilled rubbing alcohol.

At a club called Squat Cafe, DJ Aloof checks his Blackberry while his partner, Volodya the Sleeve, keeps the wheel of steel turning.

The dance floor of Squat Cafe.

I have no idea what this band was called, but they were pretty amazing. Sort of like The Infectious Blues Band after perestroika and Putin.

More. Check the cowbell technique.

Ilya Byelorukov, Crowmeat Bob's Slavic doppleganger, skronks away at a club called Dom for a weekend of "experimental" music.

Here he is playing with a really strange, Big Black-type band from Moscow called Perth. They all just got up there and made noise. Somewhere, a few hairs on the back of Crowmeat Bob's muting hand just stood up.

I concur.

This is the door in a fancy restaurant that leads to the room devoted to "staff."

This douchebag is Bogdan Titomir, a pop artist in Russia whose newest single is "Krizis Menya Ne Kasaetsa," which roughly translates into, "The [financial] crisis has no effect on me." So while millions of Russians watch their salaries shrink, their population wither and their government bail out only the most wealthy citizens, at least they can take comfort in this song, which is most likely meant to placate the oncoming revolution.

Before he was a goateed Putin crony, Titomir's biggest influence was C + C Music Factory. Peep this video from the early 90s, "Delai Kak Ya" ("Do it like me"), in which he swipes signifiers from everyone from Janet Jackson to Warrant (indicated by the woman working under the hood of the car, but minus a bikini or any quantity of cherry pie). Give it til at least the 3:10 mark, when he starts to play air Jew's harp.