Feed Us A Live Insect

Monday, December 11, 2006

The doorways are low at Tangier, but who cares

We were extremely delighted and fortunate to play last night at LA Underground's Holiday Extravaganza at Tangier with our friends Sweet Hurt, The Exfriends, and Castledoor--stars, all of 'em, I tell you, stars! Stars! Each turned in a stellar (ha ha!) performance and is destined for great things, I think. We (ie, The Weak Link In The Chain) even managed one of our better sets, despite a great nervousness that caused us to careen through our songs at about nine thousand times normal speed. But even so, it was fine, and if nothing else I got to wear my wonderful new white Elvis-esque mod motorcycle jacket that makes me look like...er, well not like Elvis per se, maybe more like someone who was an extra in The Wild One but got left on the cutting room floor because of being "too not-even-remotely-tough-looking."

First up was Wendy Wang's band, The Sweet Hurt...I've mentioned Wendy before because she's played keyboards with us in the past (and I think she'll be sitting in with us at The Cocaine this Sunday?), but this is her own band, and oh my goodness they're wonderful. I've seen several of her shows in the past and they've been more in the acoustic singer-songwriter vein, and this time she had a rawk band and played a rawk set and it was a revelation. You HAVE to go to their myspace page RIGHT NOW and listen to "Miss Misery.". I'm telling you, this song is a HIT, and Wendy's voice is glorious. There is no reason on earth why The Sweet Hurt shouldn't be absolutely huge, and I think they will be. Yay Sweet Hurt!

Then we played and sweated quite a lot. Andy and Mary were stupendous! I am just glad that I didn't have diarrhea like I did the night before the show, as I was wearing white pants that were kinda see-through. I am happy to report that we (that is, my pants and I) made it through the night okay! Whew!

After us was The Exfriends from San Diego who, um, kinda toasted us, musicality-wise. If you don't know them, they're a kind of indie country punk band, featuring Matt Curreri's superduper sweet-ass amazing songwriting skills (and scarf) and some really really astonishingly tight bandmates who can basically play anything, as far as I can tell. They've got this song that I adore called "Barbara Sands" that...hmmm...isn't up on their myspace page at the moment, but I'm sure it will rotate through if you keep checking back. Again, here is a band with a great, unusual sound (unusual in Silverlake, anyway) that I think will accomplish a great deal in the coming years. Yay Exfriends!

And finally there was Castledoor. They don't really need any plugging from me, as they seem to be doing quite nicely on their own, thank you, but still: here is a band of which one of my friends said "why aren't they playing in front of 500 people?" To which I answer: well, they will be, and quite soon, I think. We're just lucky that we got the chance to play with them now before everything goes crazy. Castledoor knows how to write a catchy pop song and Nate's got a great, expressive voice--where I shout and croak, he actually sings, funny thing about that. Plus they had the genius idea of projecting found 8mm movie film (that's film, not video) on their bass drum head, something that I should've thought of myself but didn't.

Head on over to their myspace page and listen to "Magnetic Forces" to hear what I'm babbling about. Yay Castledoor!

And that was that. Everyone acquitted themselves well, and I only had one real idiot moment where I hit my head on the low load-in door by the side of the stage. Dark club+goofy flailing dork in all white=very obvious moron.

WHOOOOO! One cent on eBay!

I guess we're charging too much for these things then?

What would be really funny is if someone bid this up to like a hundred dollars!

(That someone would not be me, of course.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Don, The Guppies, and Me

Sorry, this should really be called "Don, The Guppies, and Us," but it sounded more like some kind of idiotic children's book the first way.

A long time ago I had ambitions to become a movie critic. I liked watching movies, so it seemed like a good idea...until I started taking film criticism classes at school and realized I'd make a TERRIBLE critic. I always knew when I liked a movie, but I could never explain why: I'd just sort of stammer, "um, um, yeah, it was...really...good!" And that's not quite enough to fill a 30-page term paper on Nosferatu, unfortunately. So I never did become a Serious Cinema Critic, sad to say, but maybe that's a good thing because I think if I had to watch Battleship Potemkin just ONCE MORE TIME I might have fatally choked on my own bile.

This problem extends a certain amount to bands as well. It's easy for me to say "oh I saw this band the other night, they're really good!" And then someone says "oh what are they like?" and I reply: "they're like...good?"

So you'll have to just trust me and accept that the quintet Guppies, who we played with this past Sunday at The Cocaine, are just, like, really good. Okay okay okay...ummmm...I think they sound a bit post-punk to me, which I always like. And I hear a tiny bit of Syd Barrett in there, too. Very danceable, a bit of phaser on the guitars, which I don't hear much these days. They have some demos on their myspace but they're pretty low-fi, and they told me they're about to record some new material, which I'm very much looking forward to hearing.

And then there was Don. After Guppies played their set Don, owner of Don's Music in Eagle Rock, got up with his guitar and echo box to join them for a second set, which turned out to be one huge 15-minute Interstellar Overdrive extravaganza. I am not exactly sure but I believe Don went by the name of "Freakstick13" for the occasion. Anyway--in another 15 years when I have a long white pompadour I hope I am 1/10 as cool as Don.

Hi Don!

And, apropos of absolutely nothing, I went to visit my old friend Mr. Vending Machine up on campus the other day, and I saw that it had been stocked with Grandma's Cookies (you know, those overpriced, bland-tasting, chemically-deadly soft cookies that come two to a package for a dollar). Specifically it offered "Limited Edition" Grandma's Cookies. How on earth can you have a limited edition cookie? Do they think we're that stupid? Spare me, ye gods! Except...hmmm...they're chocolate cookies spiked with orange M&M's? Well. Okay, I bought them.

Yep, they were bland.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ellen versus The Shark versus Judee versus Jacques-Henri Lartigue

A little while ago a writer from the OC Weekly named Ellen Griley reviewed (okay, panned) a show put on by one of our favorite Orange County-based bands, The Shark That Ate My Friend. Clearly the show wasn't to her taste: fine, that's fair, I like them, she doesn't.

But then there is her assumption that the members of Shark have lots of money and/or are bankrolled by their parents, who also must have lots of money (none of which is true, according to the band): I believe her words are "oh, the spectacle of being young and rich and idle." And that, really, is what she's getting at: not so much that she doesn't like Shark's music, what she really doesn't like is their families. In fact, that's what the entire article is about: the music is merely referenced in passing.

Well well well. Let me say right now that if I could've made being young, rich, and idle work for me, I would've embraced it like a lover! Two out of three would've been okay too (and pretty? I'd take pretty). But that's beside the point: there's an implied link in Griley's article between lifestyle, social class, and artistic (in)authenticity that's appealing to all of us who are lacking in those departments, but seems kinda dubious to me. So what if someone's dad bought them a $700 keyboard: can they play it?

Forget music for a second, what about someone like photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue, whom everybody just loves to death, myself included? Here's what: he was rich, richer than the golden teats that suckled tender Mammon! He was a genius, and flagrantly idle! And we love him! You see? He overcame the taint of his unfortunate wealth and now he's a patron saint of hipsterdom. What do you say to that, Ms. Griley? Eh? Well?

Okay, let's go back to music. Recently I was introduced to the music of Judee Sill, a 1970's singer-songwriter who put out a handful of lovely LP's and lead a life of fascinating hardship and self-destruction. I don't normally go for this sort of thing, but her music is wonderful and her lyrics fascinating, along with her stories of living as a homeless junkie in a 1959 Cadillac with five other people (how is that even possible?). Despite not being a rocker, she lead *the* epic rock and roll life before dying of an overdose at 35. That's an incredibly compelling and romantic story, far more appealing than, well, anybody else's that I can think of, but it's also an enormous cliché. And of course critics like Griley would LOVE old Judee Sill, certainly not for her music, but for the glamor of her miserable, tragic, wasted life. Because let's face it: being comfortable and sane just doesn't make good copy.

So. I say to my indolent, spoiled, gold-and-honey sprinkled, leisure-flaunting brethren: rock on, dear children! Someday time shall wash away the stain of your cash, and thy true worth shall be revealed. And, um, until then, could you spare me a few grand or so? I could reeeealllly stand to upgrade my bass amp. THANKS OMG BFF! And buy me a car.

Love, Eli

PS: Some live Judee Sill tracks from a BBC radio performance can be heard for free here, just beneath the picture of the record label.