I just got back from lunch with my grandparents at Perkins Restaurant and Bakery. Our waitress was none other than the aunt of one Kevin Barnes (lead singer/creative force of Of Montreal).
Wow! If you tell me that the world is not The Truman Show, I would argue with you a little bit!
Anyway, I’ve been meaning to gush about these concerts I saw in Barcelona, as part of the Primavera Sound Music Fest so if you’ll indulge me, let’s begin.
In chronological order, the first one is Justice. I got in late, and I really just wanted to see Girl Talk, but Justice was on first. I didn’t know them, but I really enjoyed their Ratatat-meets-Metallica-meets-some-pop-girl-group techno dancey shtick. And now, apparently they’re one of many Next Big Things. Check them out!
Girl Talk himself was pretty nuts. He did mention that he was from Pittsburgh. He also mentioned his real name, which is always weird when a one-man band says what his actual name is; it’s like “Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines” or something. “Hello, I’m Girl Talk. My name is Greg Gillis.” Whatever. He did what I’ve seen him do before, which is apparently mix a lot of songs together on his computer. I can’t tell if he’s actually doing something or just clicking “play” on his premixed tracks. I mean, most of the work must happen before the show, right? He can’t be real-time thinking “oh yeah, something by the Pixies would sound good now.” Whatever he does, it gives him plenty of time to dance around the stage, undress bit-by-bit, and crowd surf. Apparently he’s a mild-mannered engineer or something in his day-to-day life, and then he goes off and plays these insane shows. What a champ.
That was Thursday. Friday was somewhat less successful, although it wasn’t Beirut’s fault! These guys were pretty fun to see live, even if all their songs blended together as they do on his record. How can one 20 year old kid, plus a bunch of backing musicians, create such old-world eastern-europe sounds? I felt like I was back at my grandmother’s Ukranian home, or chomping on pretzels in East Germany, or, you know, doing whatever it is you do in Warsaw, or somewhere else that I’ve never been.
Modest Mouse brought the night a turn for the worse. I knew they were popular, but whoa. I could not get a seat where I could see the band. They had a huge standing area, packed full, plus a huge hill, also full. I could hear the music, sort of; it was all from the new (kinda ehh) CD, plus some Good News For… tracks, and then “Doin' the Cockroach.” I swear. THIS IS WHY I DON’T LIKE BANDS TO GET TOO POPULAR! It’s not just pretentious indie-fuckery! (although there is some of that too…) Maybe someday Modest Mouse will play a show where they just run through The Moon and Antarctica, but until then, I won’t go seem them. Especially when they’re playing at, you know, Mellon Arena.
I stopped by Los Planetas, who are apparently big in Spain, but whose music was pretty goshdarn average.
Somewhere in here, I ate some food, which might have been a bad call. Even worse: said food was Churros and Chocolate, which is the heart attack combo of the month. Churros are fried dough sticks. Fine. Chocolate? I expected a little drizzle of chocolate sauce. Nope! It’s a cup of melted chocolate bar. Hell with “how do they not get fat?”… I want to know “how do they not have stomachaches all the time?!”
Then I had to wait for Hot Chip and Kid Koala, so I decided to check out Bonde Do Role, described by someone else as “a Brazilian band, a little bit like CSS”, and I thought, well that’s good; CSS mostly sucks but has put out a good song, so maybe another band can take that catchiness but make it better. Nope! The only thing that makes Bonde Do Role similar to CSS is the kinda weird and not great looks of the chick who sings. Also, she acts real slutty on stage, and they all scream a lot. However, a look at their Allmusic page reveals the quote “The joke is to be as stupid and cheesy as you can be,” so maybe I just made the mistake of taking them seriously. Maybe their record’s worth a listen.
Due to late scheduling changes, Kid Koala and Hot Chip went on at the exact same time. Well, Hot Chip is the choice there I think, but I had to leave after like three songs anyway, because I felt like hell.
Saturday! I still felt a little like hell, but I was not going to miss these shows! Ted Leo and the Pharmacists were first, and by George, they’re still champs. Notable moments include his mixing in lyrics from Daft Punk’s “One More Time” in the end of “Little Dawn.” Then he closed (or almost closed) his too-short-but-not-his-fault show with a new song called “La Costa Brava”, which is about the Costa Brava, which is the coast that Barcelona’s on. I like this song a lot! And did I mention that I got to meet the man himself afterwards? What a cool dude.
Next, to complete the best double billing ever, Architecture in Helsinki took their goofy selves to the stage. Wow, they’re nerds! And there are only six of them, which surprised me. Cool things: 1. the horn they use is actually a trombone, not a trumpet; 2. their new songs sounded pretty good; 3. they look like total social outcasts, and they dance awkwardly as hell, but boy are they having fun on stage! Also, “Maybe You Can Owe Me” flowing into “Do the Whirlwind” was as transcendent as I thought it would be.
Feeling awful again, I sat down to watch The Good, the Bad, and the Queen. I couldn’t hear them though.
I also stopped by Patti Smith, because I needed somewhere to sit. Patti who? I remember thinking “she’s famous, right?” She sang “Because the Night” and then I remembered that. “Wait, isn’t she some kind of hippie?” Then after the song she called out “No war! We don’t need no fucking war!” Oh yeah, right.
Finally, Sonic Youth took the stage, and I stayed around to see this show, because I owe it to my uncle, who has great musical taste and really wanted me to like Sonic Youth, and also to my status as an indie fuck, because they were playing through their album “Daydream Nation”, which makes pretentious writers go all gaga. It was really pretty good! I realized that they’re like the ancestors of Broken Social Scene, not most of the immediately-accessible bands that I like, and I should listen to them as such, and then it was pretty good. Their vocals fade in and out of the music. Also, they are weirdly aged. The one guitarist looks like he’s in his 20’s, the girl who plays bass looks like she’s in her 30’s, the drummer in his 40’s, and the other guitarist maybe 50’s? Clearly, those can’t be true; they’ve all been around since the 80’s, so that makes them, what, all 40’s by now? They are a distinctive bunch.
By Sunday, I was too sick even to see Of Montreal. So it goes.
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