Tuesday, July 22, 2008

p4k afterthoughts: Sunday

Okay, the tail end of the previous evening involved opening the door at Schuba's and being warned by an older man who didn't work there to NOT. GO. OUTSIDE. Well, slightly less dramatic, would have went well with a flashlight underneath his chin, but still certainly ominous. We made it to the car, but I couldn't understand why I felt compelled to shower after basically being showered and laundered. Perhaps it was the image on the blue line earlier in the evening of two of the mud people from the day before who resented their parents for not making them woodstock '94 babies, locked in pre-coital passion, with breasts and limbs straight out of a mud bath and a hankering for a UTI. I turned around and focused on the screaming baby and a conversation in Russian and reminisced about the War and Peace that I wouldn't read.
Any ways, that day was going to be my day. If there were twenty bands I was going to see ten. Had been looking forward to Mahjongg's co-opted polyrhythms, secret police wiretap burbles and high school principal, counselor ready announcements but they were forced to wait until church got out. Times delayed I worried I'd miss the dirty projectors and when Times New Viking let it rip 'cross the ports while Mahjongg were still testing bongos I ran over and caught a spot. I had seen High Places the night before in order to be able to see The Dirty Projectors, something I divulged to both of them before probably never speaking to either again. Times New Viking sounded kind of great live, something their paper cup with a string telephone recording obviously doesn't do justice. I know, I know, that's the intend, find the pop gems buried underneath. I grew up on gbv, i'm over it.
Any ways, The Dirty Projectors. Sure, the notes on record sound like someone climbing a xylophone but until you see their multiple scale perpendiculars being performed on stage, the fullness of its orchestral framework doesn't really sink in. It was beautiful. They mostly stuck to Rise Above which gets better with every listen (i've actually only heard the entire thing once).
It's wierd that Black Flag broke up because Ginn kept on changing their style up and Rollins wanted everyone to catch up by just doing the same thing they did last time, because the dirty projectors' rise above rumination is exactly what I imagine the acid trips Ginn forced him to take sounded like in his head. I can imagine him in the corner of his room, or on the front porch dissociating himself from company and friends, crooning falsettos of Ginn's words, trying to reconstruct his life via the only thing he's got going. I tried playing it for my little brother, who can only think of doing standard covers of all the damaged tracks, but he hasn't been to house shows where everytime you show up someone is doing a bogus rise above cover, completely missing the point and wallowing in the past. I asked the band and they said that they get maybe a little hate mail for messing with a punk masterpiece, but they generally just laugh about it, which is the appropriate response, because honestly, the dirty projectors are far more punk rock than some upstart punk band wearing that strict, fascistic chug on their sleeves. Don't conform, play that shit like a xylophone!
So, thankfully it was still early in the day, I could maneuver through a somewhat spread out crowd to get a good glimpse of Boris. I really wanted to see them shred and pummel. Their drummer was dressed like a Michael Jackson impersonator and had a pink drum set with a gong behind him. Wata was obviously cool and detached like she was born with her fingers in shred position and is merely doing us a favor by taking some time on mortal soil to lodge a few tricks. I was ready to get elbowed in the teeth again. There was a "hey, remember me?" when I tried to pass and I thought for a moment I might be able to patch up the circumventing misunderstanding before !!! but it turns out the person was referring to the extortionist with the muscle t shirt before vampire weekend. After the obligatory "oh yeah!" I jumped in to the flailing arms the vertigo afflicted crowd members merely had my chin pushed up once or twice. I did this on an empty stomach and without water, and was hoping I would possibly near-faint so I could get one wihout having to lose my spot for les savy fav. Michio Kurihara was there so I thought they'd let up with a few Rainbow songs but it was straight riffage from top to bottom.
After almost resting on a few stranger's shoulders I made it to the front, where there was still another hour and 10 minutes before those who rock the party rocked the body. The Dirty Projectors kind sounded like the defense some might use for Apples in Stereo's Pete and Pete worthy glimmery pop sheen. I'm not a music theory major and can't gleam notes by ear (or by eye, for that matter) but those sounded like fairly standard pop rock songs. Which can be fun, but I was bracing myself for a whole different kind of beast.
"Check. Mic 1 Check. Mic 2 Check. Check. Check. Check mix." Tim Harrington is pretty much the best rock star going right now. Unconstrained by his body type, a cherubic cupid hitting a midlife crisis of more to love, not enough to give to, he indulges in all your fantasies and inhibitions in a way you'd be too embarrassed to pull off without apologies for having been drunk or not prepared enough for halloween. There's no irony in his stage presence, there is just honest, unbridled frivolity. If there was any deconstruction in his performance, it was his crafty destruction of american apparel's fashion sense. First running out in a yellow tracksuit with green tassles under the arms he eventually revealed red lame leggings, cut off on one leg so part of his sack, snug and loved by red boy briefs, could hang out in a one nut, some glory bawd. Now, like the hold steady, i'm not systematically familiar with Les Savy Fav's lyrics, but memories of the songs meanings helped ground their set's mythic proportions in Olympian dalliances with mortal flaw. It was beautiful, and scary. After running the gamut from pirate, caped crusader and sherlock Holmes, doing round robins on the crowd by half circling the railing, one of the first times I noticed joyful chills running up and around my skin, he covered himself in brown mud. At this point my awestruck admiration turned into fear as the show made it's way into g.g. allin territory. I couldn't get woodstock 94's explanation of the mud people's muck as soil mixed with running portapotty fluids, and when he started giving high fives to the crowed I planned on darting in any direction that would have kept my OCD from rapidly devolving into fits of unclean hysteria.
Even still, I couldn't help but smile. He smeared war paint on his band member's faces calling Union Park an ancient Indian burial ground that also, in his rambling, improvised historia, doubled as a youth initiation ritual into manhood. As the drummer lifted his shirt up for a belly smear Harrington explained that the youngest were rubbed there for their transition. There was one moment that was both heartbreaking and uplifting, it was Harrington, changing costumes in the back kind of sat there like a kid with a train set and muttered something about "why can't we buy this park? Why can't every day be like this?" And it was great, because the band brought their families, and made their family life like this. A testament to the idea that growing up doesn't have to mean getting old like an age home.

Les Savy Fav performing We'll Make A Lover Out Of You (I didn't even realize he crowd surfed in a garbage can and played Oscar The Grouch)

My day kind of trailed off after that. I don't know why Evan McGarvey didn't suggest, hey, why don't you choose Trae and Z-Ro's ABN instead of rehashing every white person's standard hip hop fallback, a wu-tang associate? Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I didn't get there late and watched from next to the sound tent, but the sound was distant and from what I could tell nothing different than any other wu-tang show, which, if you haven't been to one, go, because it's a blast. But it's the same blast. Here's the ODB tribute, Ooh Baby I like it Raw. Here's everyone's favorite Wu-Tang line "wu tang clan ain't nothin' to fuck with" and then here's a few solo songs. Maybe they should have had RZA show up and fuck with the sound. From where I was standing, Raekwon looked like Rick Ross' gold medallion of himself, with a body attached. They did another "one for the real hip hop heads out there" again making a silly distinction between their true to new york coke rap tales of drug dealing and non true to new york coke rap tales of drug dealing. That soulja boy Ice-T diss is hilarious.
Before making my last rounds in the record fair and picking up Marty Friedman's Megadeth solo project for my little brother, and that last Xiu Xiu album for myself, I caught five minutes of spiritualized, perhaps the most perfect five minutes of the festival. When they let the notes ring out, slowly following each other in a languorous haze, they filled out the festival grounds beautifully, black backup singers doing the soul thing for a white frontman not uncomfortable at all, but mollifying. When the chug picked up, the sound went flat, and I bounced, making my through the burning man contingent and taking the train to a homely couch.

Holy S#&%! The exact five minutes I caught of spiritualized! (It's all coming back to me, I can see the sun setting over the steeple!)

I missed cut copy, who I had initially hated, but then heard while boozing it up at the patio of the vagabond and fell in love with. I didn't see as much as I probably could have, and would like to space out my performances so I don't have to catch up on so many in one weekend, but what I did get to experience was awesome. Especially the vegan barbeque wings from the chicago diner, oh lord. HEAVEN (for animals?).

Related posts:
P4k afterthoughts: Friday
P4k afterthoughts: Saturday