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Archive for the ‘Film & TV’ Category

[ATTENDED: January 20, 2023] THE OBGMs

I was really excited for the show–the Melanated Punk Mini Tour featuring Oxymorrons and The OBGMs (who I didn’t know but after listening to them, I realized how good they were.  At the last minute, Pinkshift was added to the bill, which made things even better!

The show was listed as starting at 7:30 (which on a Friday night usually means a lot of traffic).  Bu then Pinkshift said the fun started at 7, so my son and I left stupidly early to avoid traffic and arrived earlier than ever only to find out that the show did not start at 7.

And that’s fine.  It’s nice to be early.  Also, that Pinkshift wasn’t the first band.

The OBGMs (The oOohh Baby Gimme Mores) are from Toronto.  They came out and proceeded to tear the roof off of the place.

After playing a weird riff that sounded like a wild version of Black Sabbath, the whole band started bashing out “Cash” from their new album The Ends.

Dreadlocked lead singer Densil McFarlane also played guitar as he pogoed and screamed the lyrics.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 12, 2023] They Might Be Giants [rescheduled from March 13, 2020, September 8, 2020, April 15, 2021, March 22, 2022 and June 16, 2022]

After five failed attempts, They Might Be Giants FINALLY got to play Union Transfer.

It was only mildly anti-climactic that they played Union Transfer the night before with a show that was billed as an entirely different show but which, when setlists were compared, turned out to be almost exactly the same.

January 11 (left): note the similarly-named show title which implied something different.  From the venue:

We assume that means songs from their latest album, ‘Book’ and some ‘Flood’ “faves”, and a bunch of horns on stage. How many horns? We can’t say for sure…Maybe 5, maybe 100!?

It felt a little cheaty that this day-ahead show got the same (more or less) show as us.  But hey, who cares, at least we didn’t splurge for the second day.  Because I’d have been a little cheesed to get the same show two nights in a row, no matter how good it was.  And it was really good!

So I saw They Might Be Giants about twenty-five years ago in Boston.  I don’t remember a lot from the show, but it was the Factory Showroom tour and they played a lot of my favorite songs as well.

I haven’t seen them live since then, even though I know they put on a good show.  I’m not sure why it neve happened.  Possibly because when I try to see them a pandemic occurs.

We arrived a little later than intended, had to stand on a huge line (there was no opening act), although everyone at a TMBG show is friendly, and then wound up on the side lower balcony in Union Transfer–where I’ve never stood before.  It was actually kind of nice-we were above most of the heads and still felt a part of the mass of people.

The band also was giving out “paper crowns” that said THEY on them.  John F:  “Be sure to grab one so you can sell it later.”

The Johns came out at 8 as promised and jumped right into “Letterbox” from Flood.  But it’s not the first song from Flood.  So clearly, they weren’t going to play the album in order.  They never said they were going to, just that they were going to play the whole album.  Aha! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 2, 2022] Let’s Eat Grandma

I first heard about Let’s Eat Grandma back in 2016 from NPR music.  They had put out an album, I, Gemini that was weird and quirky, the creation of two weird and quirky girls–Rosa Walton (r, on the poster) and Jenny Hollingworth.  The album was really bizarre–strange music and spoken/shouted lyrics in thick Norwich accents.

I really wanted to see this concoction live, but they were quite young at the time and didn’t come over to the States until 2018.  Their 2018 album, I’m All Ears had a very different sound (more synthy and dancey, but still quirky).  The song “Hot Pink” from that album is about as weird as a catchy pop song can be.

Then in 2022 they put out Two Ribbons.  They had a series of personal crises in this time and it feels like a lot of the quirkiness was bashed out of them.  This makes the new album poppier and a lot mre accessible but to me a bit less interesting.

I read a review of their live show to make sure I still want to go, and it did make me want to go.  But I couldn’t help feel that there was something a little flat about the whole thing. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 17, 2022] Pony [moved from January 23, 2021]

I had not heard of Pony before this show.  I was interested in hearing the original opening band, Empath, who are a Philly band that play a kind of noise punk.  Rolling Stone says “They sound like four people who sat in a room flexing their own freaky styles until — before they realized their interests might be wholly incompatible — the chaos created its own logic.”  They sound pretty great.

But Pony are a pop punk band from Toronto and they were fantastic.

Pony is fronted by Sam Bielanski who plays guitar and sings.  She is also a voice actress and voiced Jazz in My Little Pony: Tell Your Tale (hence the band name).

For a couple of songs at the end Sam didn’t play guitar she just sang and dominated the stage, stomping around in Doc Martins and a plaid skirt. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: April 14, 2022] Thief of Time

The Death stories allow Pratchett to play around with new characters (in addition to old favorites).

So this story features a new character named Jeremy Clockson.  Jeremy was a founding left a the Clockmaker’s guild.  He is uncanny in his precision and was ultimately kicked out of the Guild for being too high strung.

One day a woman walks into his office (he makes the most precise clcks in Ankh-Morpork.  her name is Myria LeJean.  She is obnoxious and haughty and demands that Jeremy make the best clock that has ever been invented.  He, knowing a thing or two about clocks, says that he has already created the most precise clocks ever.  But she tells him about a clock that can be even more.

She offers him a lot of money to build it even as she knows that building such an amazing clock will be all the reward that Jeremy wants.

This is when Death gets involved.  Because it turns out that if this clock is built it will literally be the end of the world–this clock will capture and stop time.

Many Death stories have to do with the Auditors, and of course the Auditors are behind this, too.  The find humanity too messy to deal with, and they want to remove humanity so that the universe will run more smoothly.  They have sent Myris as a human to try to learn.  But she soon becomes taken over by human behavior and she kind of… likes Jeremy.

She also sends Jeremy an Igor to work with him.  I love the Igor characters and was delighted to see another one make an appearance.

As with most of the latter Death stories, Death is really enforced by Miss Susan–Death’s granddaughter.  Death him self cannot get involved when the Auditors cause trouble.  But Susan can stop them as long as Death doesn’t reveal too much.

I loved seeing Susan’s life as a teacher (her headmistress doesn’t like her, but the kids love her)

In the other major thread, we meet Lu-Tze–a powerful member of the History Monks masquerading as a humble sweeper.  There’s some wonderful karate movie shenanigans in this story.  With Lu Tze presenting as a lowly sweeper when he is indeed the most feared member of the Monks.  He works with a monk who creates with weapons called Qu.

And yet whenever he is called upon to do something that involves attacking or violence, he seems to just use trickery to get things to happen.

He is also given an apprentice, Lobsang.  Lobsang is a name that jumped out at me so much, that it made me think I must have remembered this story very well and yet I didn’t. I just remembered the name Lobsang.  Huh.

Lu-Tze and Lobsang are in charge of making sure that time isn’t destroyed.  Lobsang is considered a pain in the butt by the other monks.

Lobsang is a spoiled kid, who is bored at school and cant be taught because he knows everything.  Even Lu-Tze is not impressed with him, until he is able to bend time is ways that only the eldest Monks are able to do.  In fact, no one should be able to do the things he can do.  Lu-Tze realizes that Lobsang is naturally gifted at time shaping, he just needs to know how to control his gift.

Incidentally, the main abbot of the monastery has been reincarnated serval times.  He is presently a baby but he is also very wise, so his conversation is constantly interrupted his baser needs.

‘Ah, Sweeper,’ he burbled, awkwardly tossing aside a yellow ball and brightening up. ‘And how are the mountains? Wanna bikkit wanna bikkit!’

‘I’m definitely getting vulcanism, reverend one. It’s very encouraging.’

‘And you are in persistent good health?’ said the abbot, while his pudgy little hand banged a wooden giraffe against the bars. ‘Yes, your reverence. It’s good to see you up and about again.’

‘Only for a few steps so far, alas bikkit bikkit wanna bikkit. Unfortunately, young bodies have a mind of their own BIKKIT! ‘You sent me a message, your reverence? It said, “Put this one to the test.”’

As the apocalypse looms, Death recalls that he and the other four horsemen must ride forth.  But it has been a really long time and War is now married (he has to ask his wife if he likes meat–no it gives him wind).  Famine and Pestilence aren’t that keen on doing anything either. Leave it to Death to find the long lost horseman of the Apocalayse–a man who is now a milkman named Ronnie Soak.  Ronnie hasn’t thought about riding forth in years. But he becomes essential to the plot.

There is a huge pile of time travel in this book, as well as eastern philosophy and thoughts of what it means to be human,

There’s some really high concepts in a story in which the bad guys are defeated with chocolate.  And in which other characters are decapitated with no ill effects.

I love Susan as a character and the way that the Jeremy story and the Lobsang story combine is pretty masterful

And don’t forget Rule One.  Rule One is “Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man

 

It’s a great story.

Here’s the list of all Discworld books in order:

1. The Colour of Magic
2. The Light Fantastic
3. Equal Rites
4. Mort
5. Sourcery
6. Wyrd Sisters
7. Pyramids
8. Guards! Guards!
9. Faust Eric
10. Moving Pictures
11. Reaper Man
12. Witches Abroad
13. Small Gods
14. Lords and Ladies
15. Men at Arms
16. Soul Music
17. Interesting Times
18. Maskerade
19. Feet of Clay
20. Hogfather
21. Jingo
22. The Last Continent
23. Carpe Jugulum
24. The Fifth Elephant
25. The Truth
26. Thief of Time
27. The Last Hero
28. The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents
29. Night Watch
30. The Wee Free Men
31. Monstrous Regiment
32. A Hat Full of Sky
33. Going Postal
34. Thud!
35. Wintersmith
36. Making Money
37. Unseen Academicals
38. I Shall Wear Midnight
39. Snuff
40. Raising Steam
41. The Shepherd’s Crown

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: March 2022] The Last Continent

The Last Continent in Discworld is Australia. Or as Pratchett says “This is not a book about Australia. No, it’s about somewhere entirely different which just happens to be, here and there, a bit Australian.  Still… no worries, right?”

In the previous Rincewind story, he was sent to Four Ecks in exchange for a kangaroo.  He has been there for a time and has been adjusting reasonably well–only nearly everything wants to kill him.

But suddenly he meets Scrappy–a talking kangaroo.  Scrappy believes that Rincewind is a hero of sorts who is going to bring the wet (Rain) back to the continent.  Turns out that it has not rained in Four Ecks for a long time, although it is surrounded by forbidding storms that make the continent almost inaccessible from outside.

Four Ecks is also a time travel parody of sorts, because Rincewind is able to see himself (and the other wizards) in cave paintings that are thousands of years old but which just appeared in front of him.

Meanwhile, back in Ankh-Morpork, the librarian seems to be going through something.  His magical field (which tunrned him into an orangutan) seems to be failing.  He keeps turning into various shapes, and the senior wizards (Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully, The Dean, The Bursar, The Chair of Indefinite Studies, The Lecturer in Recent Runes, The Senior Wrangler, and Ponder Stibbons) are keen on fixing him–even if that means turning him back human–which he does NOT want, Indeed, the librarian destroyed all record of his original name–which would be essential for creating a spell to revert him to his original shape.

They decide that Rincewind might know a thing or two about the librarian since he was the librarian’s assistant.  They think about dragging Rincewind back, but soon realize the danger of that (and actually stop their plans before anyone can get hurt). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 25, 2022] Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group began in 1987. In 1997 I was working in New York City in Greenwich Village and every day I thought I would love to check out this crazy looking show.

I never did.

Over the years, Blue Man Group became a phenomenon, a punchline and much more.  I had no idea that in 2017 it was purchased by Cirque de Soliel.  It even became a plot line on Arrested Development.

And all that time I still thought that I’d like to experience the show.

So when State Theatre announced that Blue Man Group was touring, I purchased tickets for the four of us, figuring we would all enjoy it.  I gather that in the 35 years the show has changed, but some things are still the same.  They’re still all in Blue.  There are still marshmallows.  There’s still music and there’s still a kind of sensory overload.

The set was wild with lights flashing and scaffolding and walls on either side that were designed for climbing.  The set is lit up long before the Blue Men come out and you can really study everything that’s up there.  We were pretty far back so we couldn’t see it very closely.  But there were screens with Pong on it and other things that seemed futuristic and retro at the same time.

I knew that the Blue Man Group played music–they have even done a Tiny Desk.  And that they make a lot of their own instruments (mostly weird things out of PVC).  I didn’t realize there would be a (really loud, rocking) backing band [apparently Corky Gainsford on guitar Chris Reiss on the strings and drummer Chris Schultz].

Audience participation is a fun thing with the Blue Man Group.  There are parts that are clearly scripted–bits in which they come out an interact with the audience.  But there are also ways in which the audience’s reactions result in the Blue Men reacting in turn–as if they are aliens unsure about what to make of the audience in general.

And I think that’s what makes the whole thing so magical.  The three guys really do keep in character the whole time–and that character is truly alien.  Truly like beings from another world doing their thing, trying to communicate with humans in some way.  It is strangely affecting and strangely moving. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 29, 2022] Sparks

Sparks is, without question, a weird band.  I got into them back in 1997 when they released an album of re-recorded versions of their best songs and called it Plagiarism.  Since then they have released eight albums.  Before  that the had release sixteen albums dating all the way back to 1971.  And yet despite the occasional hit, they remained largely unknown in the States.  They are from the States even though many people assume they are from Europe.  Sparks are Russel Mael (vocals) and Ron Mael (everything else).

And they remained at a certain level of obscurity until 2021 when a documentary called The Sparks Brothers was released (and did very well) and when they created a musical movie called Annette which won the Cannes Soundtrack award.

The time seemed ripe to do a (limited) tour of the States.  Sparks last played toured American back in 2013, they played at Le Poisson Rouge in 2017, but that was just two shows in New York and two in California–not much of a tour.  Normally I hate going into New York and will only do it for special occasions. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 26, 2022] grandson

My son got me into grandson a couple of years ago.  I really like his debut album, death of an optimist.  I promised that if grandson toured, I’d grab tickets.  I bought the tickets for this show a while ago and had no idea that in the interim, grandson had become (in relative terms) really popular.

He wrote the theme song to Suicide Squad which had apparently upped his profile and, he was also opened for Imagine Dragons which is pretty massive exposure.  So good for him.

It also meant that this show was much more crowded than I thought it would be.  We arrived pretty earlier, but the merch line was crazy long.  By the time we got into the show it was pretty crowded, but I know Union Transfer, and I know where there’s a good spot to get you closer to the action. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 24, 2022] The Beths

The Beths are from New Zealand.

I really enjoyed hearing them talk between songs–super cool accents.

They only have two albums out but they have a pretty rabid fan base–if the guys who sang along loudly to everything were anything to go by.

The Beths were originally supposed to play King Fu Necktie in April 2020.  The show was moved to World Cafe Live, but was ultimately cancelled because of COVID.  They scheduled a new date at Underground Arts for January, but that got pushed back a month as COVID cases rose again.

And then, finally, they were here! (more…)

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