Tuesday, January 31, 2006


The less said about Sheena Easton's "Sugar Walls" the better, and the entire Vanity catalog has mercifully escaped me. But I liked that duet with Apollonia on the Purple Rain soundtrack, even if no amount of fuzzy nostalgia can burnish her "hit" single's labored double entendres. Sheila E. was pretty catchy in her day. And in 1984, who would've known the wonders that Wendy and Lisa would bring to Neil Finn's last record, as well as the Largo stage? So maybe being a Prince "protege" isn't the worst fate. Now, on to the report:

Tamar with special guest Prince, The Fillmore, January 30, 2006: At least that's how the show was billed. I vaguely Googled Tamar before I bought the tickets, but they had me at with.

In typical Prince style, this show was announced mere days before the gig, tix were will-call only, and the band was set to hit the stage at midnight. Against all odds, I managed to get tix through the regular Internet sale, so it was just a matter of lining up a little before 10 to get into the Fillmore. The queue was manageable, and even the two-hour wait inside the club wasn't bad. The energy level was high, helped along by the great tunes streaming from the PA.

It's nice to take a step back from your usual subcultures and observe others' rites, and that's how I felt at this show. Lord knows I haven't seen an indie band elicit that much preshow dancing since, say, the first Franz Ferdinand tour, and it was impossible not to join in.

A little before midnight, we heard screams from somewhere in the middle of the dance floor, and following the eyes and fingers, we saw a small, shadowy figure being escorted around the perimeter of the Fillmore's balcony, from the back entrance to the backstage area. Obviously, it was Prince himself, and his presence signalled that the show was ready to begin.

Around 12:15, the show kicked off with the band assembled onstage and a few words of introduction from Prince, looking natty in a red and black suit and manning lead guitar. It's funny how much of your teenage trivia refuses to leave your brain. For some reason, I can't forget that Prince, Madonna, and Simon LeBon are all the same age. It's absolutely no contest: Prince still looks fantastic, which is more than I can say about my era's other idols.

Tamar looks a little like late-'70s/early-'80s Diana Ross and, with her backup singers/dancers, brings Tina Turner to mind as well. And speaking of the singers/dancers, they were twins--kinda like Diamond and Pearl, except doing stuff. I don't listen to modern R&B enough to compare her sound to the current trends, but with Prince supporting her, it certainly seemed like there was more to her songs than airy beats, drenched strings, and multi-octave excess. Instead, we got a few facets: the ballads (of course), the dance hits, and a lot more rocking than you might expect.

Prince took a background role--almost literally, in some instances. He mostly played guitar, lent backing vocals here and there, and interjected a few comments. For some songs, he was content to stand just offstage or retreat all the way to the back, hanging out with the other players. But that's not to say he's lost his taste for showmanship. For instance, he, Tamar, and the dancers took a short break for a costume change. And he welcomed the spotlight for a handful of guitar solos. I was surprised by how excited I was for this show. Yes, I'm an idiot for skipping the Musicology tour (blame my venue snobbery, not my music snobbery), and this wasn't exactly a Prince show, but it was thrilling to witness him for myself at the Fillmore.

I had heard that they would do no more than an hour set, but they played until minutes before 2am. Toward the end, they kicked off a long medley of soul classics, including hits made popular by Aretha Franklin and Michael and Janet Jackson, among others. I thought it was odd that they would do other people's hits from Prince's heyday, but perhaps those songs suited Tamar better or maybe Prince wanted her to stand on her own talents. In fact, he referred to her at least a couple of times as his "baby sister." They also brought the audience in a number of times. I heard it's part of the show's script, but it was new to me, pandering be damned.

I missed Nels Cline's show across the bay for this gig, but I stand by my decision. As soon as I stepped off the last step of the Fillmore's stairs, my energy drained away and my legs were like rubber, but I take that as a sign of a good night.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

calling all bed wetters and ambulance chasers

The last of three! It was about a year ago that Colin Meloy embarked on a solo tour, and perhaps this is becoming a new tradition. If it is, he's in good company.

Colin Meloy, El Rey Theatre, January 21, 2006: Oh dear, as if populating his songs with characters that would make even Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson blush weren't enough, Colin had a stage setup that consisted of a table holding up a small galleon, a stuffed sheep, and a skull. Could the Bard be in his sights?

Colin Meloy, El Rey Theatre, January 21, 2006Fortunately, the skull was named Cheryl, probably not big on the baby register in the Renaissance. Also to his credit, Colin's music is built upon a solid foundation of poetry, melody, and emotion that overshadows the more precious moments he's prone to dreaming up. It's easy to see why the room of mostly underage fans were so taken with him and were ready to follow his every command, from snapping their fingers to banging their heads to closing their eyes and imagining themselves gathered around a campfire in Colorado. He is a masterful storyteller, and his tableaus are a far cry from, for example, the doctored reality programming that seems to have invaded every corner of our culture. And for those of us who can legally drink, it's never a bad thing when you hear not only strains of past influences but also the new twists that remind you how music can still surprise and delight.

The last year of extensive touring and growing acclaim has definitely improved Colin's stage presence, and he stepped up to the challenge of the bigger room, with style to spare. He did a couple of charming new songs, as well as much older tunes from his pre-Decemberists days. Predictably, my favorite songs are about places I know. I figured he had to hit "Los Angeles I'm Yours" in place of "Grace Cathedral Hill," but "California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade" was a nice olive branch.

Laura Viers, the opener, deserved credit as well for presenting herself to a room of someone else's rabid fans, armed only with her guitar and some loopers, it seems. Her more interesting numbers involved layering and other studio-style tricks. Otherwise, her plainer songs had a samey quality.

See also:
» it's been a while
» down the Hyde Street pier
» a writer, a writer of fictions

Monday, January 23, 2006

that ain't working, that's the way you do it

I may have been hasty in determining my top 10 gigs of 2005; upon further consideration, my estimation of the last Jon Brion show of the year seems conservative. In the current light, it stands out as one of the more unpredictable performances of the last year. Damn my tidiness!

But I can say with conviction that the December precedent has irrevocably damaged my barometer for what may be considered an unreasonable measure to get to a Jon Brion show. It's been less than a month since my last visit to Largo, but it might as well have been 10 years. Of course, my anticipation may have everything to do with the fact that Heidi and Kande would be making the trip out. All I know is that January 20 couldn't come any sooner.

Jon Brion, Largo, January 20, 2006: Zach Galifiniakis did the intro, imitating "L.A.'s worst roommate." Combing his unkempt head of hair with a grill brush, he berated his pretend roomies for not treating pilot season with the necessary gravity, then exhorted them to drive him to Burbank for auditions for a Gilmore Girls spin-off. Did I lose you? Good, now you'll just have to hear him for yourself.

Jon bounded onstage in swell spirits. He took his usual place at the piano, but as soon as he picked up the small hammer, I knew we were in for the old treatment of "Same Thing"--the one where he crafts the rhythm by banging the piano's back panel. This song may have my favorite Jon Brion outro, and I love hearing him apply different techniques to those familiar chords.

For the next song, he picked up the black-and-white Gretsch and turned up the distortion for an instrumental that completely passed me by until Heidi informed me it was a very abstract "Mr. Tambourine Man." He stayed on guitar for "Why Do You Do This to Yourself" but built "I Was Happy with You" from all instruments. The harmonica graced "Someone Else's Problem" but not "Trial and Error." In lieu of Grant Lee Phillips's physical presence, Jon invoked him in spirit with "Walking Through Walls."

Jon then asked for requests and, after hearing a flurry of names and titles, refined his search by asking for a style of music. With his mind set, he promised us a "combination that's needed to happen for a while." It turned out to be Pink Floyd in the style of AC/DC, not unlike the version of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" from last month. He kept up the screeching vocals for a good three verses or so but, perhaps for his own good, concluded the song in his normal register.

After the cavalcade of applause subsided, Jon doled out some more weird guitar noises and distortion, accompanied by keyboard improv and a touch of a couple of mouth instruments, only one of which was a harmonica. I'm not sure what the other was, except that it looked like an egg timer, and he twisted it for sound effects. This eventually sifted down to the piano, his own sampled ethereal backing vocals, and the celeste, all coalescing in the form of "Stop Your Sobbing."

On solo piano, Jon honored a request for "Meaningless," which I haven't heard in a while. It was over to the acoustic for "Love of My Life So Far" and, with the addition of a harmonica, "Knock Yourself Out." He built "The Girl I Knew" and followed up with a call for requests. Someone repeated their request for "Be My Baby" produced by Eno, but Jon shot that one down, claiming that in a way, he's been "produced by Eno--internally." But the Dylan request hit the spot, and after narrowing the field of possibilities, he settled on "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" done in the style of early '50s Les Paul; his finger-picking was especially divine.

The second set kicked off with a song build of "I'm Further On" that turned out to be more of a spectacle than normal. With the guitars not staying in tune, Jon seemed intent on punishing them for their disobedience. Following a scorching bridge, he broke all strings on one of his main guitars until it was relegated to a prop hanging off his body while he sang over the looped tracks and made imploring gestures with his hands. Even the black-and-white Gretsch did him no good, so he went back to the piano family for frenzied playing that saw him setting his head on the keyboard a couple of times as well as nearly careening off his seat while trying to pound out the notes. A harmonica and the black-and-white Gretsch showed up briefly again, to be followed by a distorted mandolin, and ending with the red hollow-body Gretsch. Whew!

The comparatively tamer "I'm on a Roll with You" and "Do Re Mi" came next on the piano, as well as a request for "Ruin My Day." For the last, he launched directly into the lyrics and skipped the divine intro. Instead, he switched the emphasis to the outro, unaccompanied by vocals or harmonies of any sort. The next song is a mystery to me, but it was a plaintive, somber number on solo piano, and it sounded like a cover. I jotted down some lyrics if anyone wants to take a stab at them:
I've been feeling out of joint--you get the point
You've been feeling out of sorts from most reports
There's a little bit of you in all I do
There's a little bit of me in all you see

Though Jon asked for requests, the audience's suggestions were superceded by a computerized voice on the PA calling and stretching out Jon's name. He commented that it was either Max Headroom or Fatboy Slim, but it didn't matter as its tastes were impeccable. The entity asked Jon to do XTC, a band I've long wanted to hear him tackle. Without a moment's hesitation, he jumped on the drums for a rollicking "Making Plans for Nigel."

During the break, we had spied Matt Chamberlain in the room, along with Sarah Watkins from Nickel Creek, but that didn't take away our delight at hearing Jon invite Matt to the stage. As he made his way to the spotlight, Matt noodled with the guitar hanging on Jon's body. You can't really do that on a Friday night at Largo and not expect to be called out; essentially, Matt brought it on himself, as Jon left Matt with the guitar while he headed for the drums. Such was his enthusiasm that Jon promptly broke one of the drumsticks while pounding away. As for Matt--well, let's just say that Nels Cline is better on drums than Matt is on guitar, but for that same reason, Matt may win the award for Best Sport. He played with various pedals and took on Jon, beat for beat, for a stretch. They went from fast and rocking to a slower jam, and Jon eventually took up the keyboards, the piano, and the celeste, while Matt finally reached the drums, though he kept the guitar lead in hand and applied it to the cymbals. Jon sampled and looped his moaning vocals, and emerging from the musical wilderness, they hit upon a song: "Within You, Without You."

For their second song, they churned out a heavy, fuzz-drenched version of "You Don't Know What Love Is." But song three was the favorite of the night among our little group. A couple of voices (not ours) shouted out their requests, and against all odds, they killed both birds with one stone, in the form of "Money for Nothing"--as done by Tom fucking Waits. Yeah yeah, Jon's Tom Waits treatment is all over the Web these days, but Jon and Matt actually slowed down the song so that it barely resembled the original Dire Straits tune. The crawling, off-kilter beat was infinitely more Waits than Knopfler, I assure you.

Next, the two of them kicked off a Les Paul-like passage, which somehow became Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused." As they piled on the rawk, we saw Matt reaching for Jon's mandolin. We were unable to imagine what he could possibly do with that funny instrument, but there was no way we could've prepared for the denouement: a seamless merge into "Goody Two Shoes"--the second Adam Ant cover I've heard at Largo.

I think the audience was at least as tickled as the performers, but Jon didn't stop there. He invited Phil Hurley, late of the Gigolo Aunts, onstage. Phil took the guitar, then exchanged introductions with Matt. Jon also asked Gabe Wicher to join them, ostensibly for his "dulcet tones." After some conferencing, they started in on the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Sin City," though it took a couple of passes before they got the right key. Phil was certainly enjoying every minute, though Gabe looked a little timid. Matt has his game face on and didn't take his eyes off Jon for most of the number. In all, it was a sloppy and fun--just the way we like it.

Jon let Phil start the next song, instructing him to go forth in any style he pleased, be it rock, calypso, or a sound "until now, unknown to man." Phil kicked off with a heavy bluesy riff, while Jon added tons of key work on the synths, the piano, and the celeste. He also playfully admonished Phil for starting a song that no one knew the words to--though that's hardly been an obstacle in the past. From there, Jon turned it into a trademark medley/mash-up, encompassing "Fame," "Break on Through," and "Tequila," to name just three. Then on what turned out to be the final song of the night, Jon took on "Paper Moon." He even coaxed a fiddle solo from Gabe, who hadn't quite stepped up to the others' level so far that night, but he did himself proud on that last one.

Finally, Jon informed us that it was the end of the night, though no one could accuse them of going gently. Amid our groans, he challenged us to "call bullshit--on the law." He was right, of course. Besides, my face might've broken if I spent another second grinning.

set 1
Zach Galifianakis opener
piano warm-up
Same Thing [piano]
Hey Mr. Tambourine Man [gtr]
Why Do You Do This to Yourself [gtr]
I Was Happy with You [song build]
Someone Else's Problem [piano + harmonica]
Trial and Error [piano]
Walking Through Walls [song build]
Comfortably Numb * [song build]
Stop Your Sobbing [piano, keyboards, celeste]
Meaningless [piano]
Love of My Life So Far [acoustic gtr]
Knock Yourself Out [gtr + harmonica]
The Girl I Knew [song build]
Don't Think Twice It's Alright ** [gtr]

set 2
I'm Further On [song build]
I'm on a Roll With You [piano]
Do Re Mi [piano + celeste]
Ruin My Day [piano]
mystery song [piano]
Making Plans for Nigel [song build]
with Matt Chamberlain
Within You, Without You
You Don't Know What Love Is
Money for Nothing ***
Dazed and Confused/Goody Two Shoes
with Matt Chamberlain, Phil Hurley, and Gabe Wicher
Sin City
???/Fame/Break on Through/Tequila
Paper Moon

* = in the style of AC/DC
** = in the style of early '50s Les Paul
*** = in the style of Tom Waits

See also:
» top 5 Largo memories
» top 10 concerts of 2005
» the Book of Brion 2 has landed
» get a load of the lengths i go to

Sunday, January 22, 2006

something inside that was always denied

Hit the ground running, I say on occasion, if the mood strikes me and if I can get off my ass. Chop chop!

Brad Mehldau Trio, El Rey Theatre, January 19, 2006: The first show of the year! And how lucky am I that I get to see it with Heidi and Kande? I had barely taken in a full whiff of the SoCal smog when we were on the freeway, heading up to the Miracle Mile for the first of three shows on the agenda for the weekend.

My interest in Brad Mehldau can be explained in exactly two words that are so obvious I'm not even going to bother typing them, Google's blog search be damned. But interest is interest, right? Even if you aren't equipped to always know what you're interested in. That's my evasive way of saying that I'm woefully unqualified to say much about Brad's show except that it was supercool when I knew what he was doing--that is, for his renditions of "She's Leaving Home" and "Stormy Weather," as well as for a hypnotic bossa nova (according to Heidi) number. Brad claimed to have also performed "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and "Knives Out," but I can neither confirm nor deny those reports.

What was obvious was Brad's piano mastery and the variations he brought to each song. Also incredibly surprising was the audience, which skewed quite a bit younger than I expected. They were refreshingly reverent, even during his more abstract stretches, though I had no idea why they applauded some passages. Again, I know little of the jazz world, but judging by the way the listeners regarded him, he looks like a rock star to me.

See also:
» the Book of Brion 2 has landed

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

the Book of Brion 2 has landed

I lose sleep over mixes. I agonize over song sequences. I take long, pointless drives to listen to the flow on the car stereo. I revise the song list constantly. Ultimately, I'm so inspired by these stupendous musicians that I want to find the perfect vehicle to present their songs to potentially new ears.

Thus, you'll have to forgive me for totally geeking out the last few days. My towering achievement: I've finished the Book of Brion 2, my second collection of Jon Brion's varied and far-ranging body of work. Eeeee!

Show me a one-CD survey of Jon Brion's works and I'll show you a slice of digital Swiss cheese. Jon's CV is so lengthy that you can make an infinite number of mixes yet barely touch upon his full resume. Sure, I've omitted vast tracts of his genius, such as his film scores, his own songs, and the live shows (which have to experience firsthand anyway). I've left off a number of songs that I love, but in the end, I'm a slave to sequencing. Lastly, I tried to mix in different artists than on the first volume, though some repeats are unavoidable.

There's a small legend at the bottom of the list, the parentheses denote Jon's contribution on each song, and I've commented on some of the song. I hope this selection covers a decent amount of ground. Download it, and give me some feedback. I can't wait to hear from you.

The Book of Brion 2
or the continuing adventures through Jon Brion's catalog
1. Gotta Start Somewhere--Jon Brion * [writer, singer, all instruments]
From the get go, I knew this would be the opening track. I love it around the 3:00 mark, when most of the instrumentation is temporarily at bay before the drums fire up again. The harmonies toward the end are divine as well.
2. Shots Is Fired--Evan Dando [cowriter]
3. Ray--Aimee Mann * [drums, tack piano, harmonium]
I'm still surprised by how much I love this album. The tack piano makes the song for me, especially in that bridge about 3/4 of the way in.
4. Gentle Hum--the Finn Brothers * [tuned drums, percussion loop, acoustic guitar]
I've always wanted Jon and Neil to work together (and I even witnessed it myself), but I have to admit the Finn Brothers album didn't reach its full potential. Still, I like this song a lot.
5. Over Our Heads--Jon Brion * [writer, singer, all instruments]
You must have the Huckabees soundtrack.
6. I Know Sometimes a Man Is Wrong--David Byrne [harmonium]
7. City of Quartz--Marianne Faithfull [cowriter]
8. Gone--Kanye West [string arrangements]
More than any other track from Late Registration, this song is a true melding of Jon and Kanye's talents. Check out the piano/strings bridge at the 3:30 mark!
9. Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime--Beck * [all instruments]
10. One Headlight--the Wallflowers [lead guitar]
Back in the day, every article extolling the genius of Jon Brion listed this song as one of the highlights of his career. That's him on slide, folks.
11. Bottle Up and Explode!--Elliott Smith [chamberlain, vibes]
12. I Try--Macy Gray [piano, orchestra bells, guitar]
I didn't know it at the time I bought this CD, but the warm piano that drew me in to the song in the first place--guess who's behind the keys?
13. Dear Prudence--Brad Mehldau *
14. Amateur--Aimee Mann * ° [cowriter, keyboard, guitar, bass]
Aimee talks about the album, including the very enlightening genesis of this song. I love the waltz time and the nod to Bacharach.
15. Watch Over Us--Nels Cline Singers [celeste, harmonium]
I think I just about fainted when I saw Jon's name in the liner notes. At the time, I had no idea that we'd get a whole Largo series from this collaboration.
16. Climbing to the Moon--eels [chamberlain, organ]
17. Waltz--Fiona Apple * [bass]
I'm not a Fiona fan in the least, but I gotta admit this one is gorgeous.

* = producer
° = my favorite song ever, currently

p.s. This mix can be easily accommodated in CD form, if you so desire. Let me know.

See also:
» top 5 Largo memories
» get a load of the lengths i go to
» top 10 concerts of 2005

Saturday, January 14, 2006

the "l" word


I need to get to a gig ASAP, but unfortunately, I have nothing on the schedule until next week--though I'll be back in a big way. For now....


In the late '80s, the likes of Bon Jovi and the Stone Roses were taking over the cultural landscape in their respective countries, inspiring a new round of laddishness. Those of us who grew up enamored of men in makeup, transposed gender roles, and Bruce Weber photo shoots were looking for an oasis, a return to our prepubescent years spent worshipping fey men--preferably with British accents, frilly blouses, and floppy hair.

Fortunately, it was also the Golden Age of Merchant Ivory Productions; like a gateway drug, they led some to seek out smaller films that may or may not have involved cute guys making out with each other. What started in high school became more of a mission in college, and Doreen and I eventually hit upon the idea of compiling a list of our favorite homoerotic movies. (She's evasive on the matter these days, much as she claims to not remember the origin of Spexxx, but I lay half the blame/credit on her shoulders; let her know next time you see her!)

The list is heavily weighted toward the '80s and early '90s, when I watched a lot more movies than I do now. Hormone levels may have also been a factor (ha). There's no way I can catalog all of them, so I apologize in advance for obvious omissions. Indisputably, Brokeback Mountain inspired this reminiscence, but it's too early to tell at this point where it falls on the list.

OK, less talk, more man-on-man action!

My top 5 mainstream gay movies
5. Poison (Todd Haynes): As much as I wanted to like American movies about gay men, I always thought them a little too earnest (case in point: Longtime Companion). American films seemed to always try to convey a message and a moral, whereas British movies sort of accepted the repression and proceeded straight to the illicit attraction. Also, British guys had much better haircuts. Of course, Poison isn't exactly a mainstream movie, and its more low-budget aspects become obvious on repeated viewings, but it offers a glimpse into what Todd Haynes would later achieve as a director.
4. Law of Desire (Pedro Almodovar): It's tough choosing just one Pedro Almodovar movie, but here's my pick. My guess is that the moviegoers who've made Antonio Banderas a star over here--with his own perfume, people!--aren't familiar with his early roles. Damn subtitles! It's a shame--they're missing out on some his sexiest, most fearless work.
3. My Beautiful Laundrette (Stephen Frears): I remember being shocked by the first gay kiss in this movie--not because it was between two men but because I thought I was watching a more straightforward commentary on the British class system. This came out at the same time Daniel Day-Lewis was gaining renown for his role in A Room with a View--guess which one I liked better. The book by Hanif Kureishi is great too.
2. My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant): My friends and I went to this movie on opening night--I had never seen so many other teenage girls at the arthouse theater. Technically, River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves never kissed onscreen, but we hyperventilated every time they exchanged meaningful glances. The scenes with Udo Kier are priceless.
1. Another Country: This will always be the gold standard by which I judge homoerotic movies. Rupert Everett was insanely handsome, Colin Firth was intense and cute, Cary Elwes was unbelievably young, and I loved their clothes and their accents. Yes, it was based on an acclaimed play and true events, but in case you hadn't noticed, we have other criteria at work here, even if Pauline Kael is rolling over in her grave.

Honorable mentions
» Maurice: An impossibly young Hugh Grant with the floppiest hair on either side of the Atlantic. Sigh.
» The Wedding Banquet: Ang Lee's first film with gay characters, this one takes a slightly different tact from the current cinematic darling, but in the end, the tenderness is the same.
» Swoon: I understand the need for artistic license, but if the true Leopold and Loeb story were half as hot as this movie, I might've paid more attention in my high school history class.
» Apartment Zero: I don't remember this movie very well except that Colin Firth radiated the Another Country halo effect, which was good enough for me.
» Edward II: I was never a big Derek Jarman fan, but this--considered his most mainstream movie--was the only one that I could grasp. It shows a lot of his trademark touches, and it sure isn't your average film adaptation of a play.

See also:
» the other side of the mountain

Monday, January 09, 2006

the other side of the mountain

Google hates me again. Phooey. I'd like to tell them where they can search...

But to stray from my favorite topic for a little while, here's an awesome New York Times op-ed piece by Larry David on why he won't see Brokeback Mountain. Gene Shalit, are you reading this?

Hear him out, folks!

Cowboys Are My Weakness
Published: January 1, 2006

SOMEBODY had to write this, and it might as well be me. I haven't seen "Brokeback Mountain," nor do I have any intention of seeing it. In fact, cowboys would have to lasso me, drag me into the theater and tie me to the seat, and even then I would make every effort to close my eyes and cover my ears.

And I love gay people. Hey, I've got gay acquaintances. Good acquaintances, who know they can call me anytime if they had my phone number. I'm for gay marriage, gay divorce, gay this and gay that. I just don't want to watch two straight men, alone on the prairie, fall in love and kiss and hug and hold hands and whatnot. That's all.

Is that so terrible? Does that mean I'm homophobic? And if I am, well, then that's too bad. Because you can call me any name you want, but I'm still not going to that movie.

To my surprise, I have some straight friends who've not only seen the movie but liked it. "One of the best love stories ever," one gushed. Another went on, "Oh, my God, you completely forget that it's two men. You in particular will love it."

"Why me?"

"You just will, trust me."

But I don't trust him. If two cowboys, male icons who are 100 percent all-man, can succumb, what chance to do I have, half- to a quarter of a man, depending on whom I'm with at the time? I'm a very susceptible person, easily influenced, a natural-born follower with no sales-resistance. When I walk into a store, clerks wrestle one another trying to get to me first. My wife won't let me watch infomercials because of all the junk I've ordered that's now piled up in the garage. My medicine cabinet is filled with vitamins and bald cures.

So who's to say I won't become enamored with the whole gay business? Let's face it, there is some appeal there. I know I've always gotten along great with men. I never once paced in my room rehearsing what to say before asking a guy if he wanted to go to the movies. And I generally don't pay for men, which of course is their most appealing attribute.

And gay guys always seem like they're having a great time. At the Christmas party I went to, they were the only ones who sang. Boy that looked like fun. I would love to sing, but this weighty, self-conscious heterosexuality I'm saddled with won't permit it.

I just know if I saw that movie, the voice inside my head that delights in torturing me would have a field day. "You like those cowboys, don't you? They're kind of cute. Go ahead, admit it, they're cute. You can't fool me, gay man. Go ahead, stop fighting it. You're gay! You're gay!"

Not that there's anything wrong with it.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

when you reach Kyoto, send a postcard if you can

Oh my god, Google's blog search has deemed my existence worthy. To celebrate this small victory and my relieved return from Vegas, here's a little MP3 of Jon Brion covering Brian Eno. Enjoy!
» Burning Airlines Give You So Much More

Also, you can listen to an interview with Jon on BBC Radio until January 12, I believe. It's a crappy stream, but there's great info.
» BBC Radio 3: Mixing It

See also:
» top 5 Largo memories
» top 10 concerts of 2005
» everything I ever write anymore

Sunday, January 01, 2006

top 10 concerts of 2005

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you all had a lovely evening and are ready for 2006. :)

Nothing marks an arbitrary date like a list, so here are my favorite gigs of the past year. I saw a total of 66 gigs last year. Granted, the vast majority--even moreso than in previous years--was by Wilco, Jon Brion, and/or those affiliated with Wilco and/or Jon Brion. A list of top 10 Largo moments of 2005 might be more appropriate, but I like to believe that my interests are a little more diverse. Also, for whatever reason, a lot of my old favorites didn't deliver the same punch as they had in the past, and I either missed or was underwhelmed by a lot of up-and-comers. Oh well, I'll try not to ramble too much. Here we go:

1. Jeff Tweedy, Sooz's basement, 1/29/05: Perhaps the best weekend of my life yet.
2. Arcade Fire, Austin City Limits Festival, 9/25/05: I can't believe that the biggest Arcade Fire show was my favorite, but it was truly a transcendant occasion.
3. Jon Brion & Kanye West, Largo, 3/18/05: It's tough to pick just one Jon Brion show, but I have to go with the gig where we first got an inkling of their collaboration.
4. Wilco, Stubb's BBQ, 9/24/05: I wish the band and the crowd could be this engaged for every show I attend.
5. Jon Brion, Largo, 12/9/05: This show had its glorious peaks and unsettling valleys, and I'm unlikely to forget it soon.
6. Wilco, Elysee Montmartre, 3/16/05: My rock tourism goes international and/or psychotic (take your pick)! If you need an excuse to get yourself to Paris, you could do worse than going when your favorite band plays a small venue in the City of Lights.
7. Olivia Tremor Control, Great American Music Hall, 9/8/05: Rock reunions are pretty much a given from here on out, but this was easily my favorite of the recent batch. Keep Athens weird!
8. Wrens, Bottom of the Hill, 12/1/05: They served up a vivid reminder of what separates them from the pack: passion, unpretentiousness, and great tunes.
9. Colin Meloy, Cafe du Nord, 1/16/05: I wouldn't say that the Colin Meloy solo experience is as eye-opening as, say, a Jeff Tweedy show, but I loved seeing him shorn of the affectation that can sometimes overpower the Decemberists. And he has great taste in Morrissey songs.
10. Teenage Fanclub, Bimbo's 365 Club, 8/5/05: Though their latest album didn't knock my socks off, my old stalwarts always put on a wonderful show. They have my undying allegiance.

Here's some cool stuff coming to the Bay Area in the next few months:
» Mark Kozelek: January 18, Great American Music Hall
» Colin Meloy: January 20, Great American Music Hall
» Nels Cline and Friends: January 30, Yoshi's
» Jeff Tweedy: February 8 and 9, the Fillmore
» Bob Mould: February 11, Slim's
» Supergrass: February 23, Great American Music Hall
» Cat Power: February 23 and 24, the Palace of Fine Arts
» The Wedding Present: February 24, Slim's
» Bob Pollard: February 25, the Independent
» Robyn Hitchcock/Minus 5: February 27, Slim's
» Matt Pond PA: March 5, Slim's

See also:
» top 5 Largo memories