Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: September 2010

Tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 40s. Light west winds. Songs about the rain.

From 8-10 CST on Rock Geek F.M. with Cristy and William: the music of Paul Kotheimer, Scott Walker, the Troggs, Marmalade, Cracker, Tones on Tail, and a couple dozen others. Songs about rain drizzling online at, evaporated to the cloud right here.

Possibly the first rock band photo shoot in the rain. Trendsetter band the Band.

Possibly the first rock band photo shoot in the rain. Trendsetter band the Band.



They kicked me in the ear; I saw stars. This is the honest truth. When Those Darlins plowed onstage and started into wringing the necks on some guitars, slapping a bass, and shaking the teeth out of a ukelele hole, notes were flying. This combo pretty much bootstomped the mud off of one IMC stage. Nikki was recovering from a broken arm and only able to kick 110% ass but I swear to you, reader, that if she had broken that very arm punching this reporter in the face then no way would I ever put makeup on that sweet bruise. Poor thing was in pain: those cans of Busch just collapsed into crumpled tin when she inhaled them. Jessi got that look in her eye. Kelley was playing that electrical guitar like driving a police car through a brick wall. They smoked us and rolled us over like pigs on a spit. They led; the crowd danced. There was nothing between them and us but a couple half-empty bottles and a ton of respect. After they got into it, they even came out into the crowd and did things I can’t tell you. This was no posture, no altar; we were finally getting down to some honest rock and roll, folks. Those Darlins set fire to the place and burned a hole clear through to the sky leaving only a harvest moon and old Jupiter looking down in wonder at the beauty of transience: how the cruel beast of time can now and then be pistol-whipped into the truth of chords. I swear to Elvis and Joan Jett this was the best show I have ever seen.

It was gratifying to see Janelle Mon´e on the same stage where I saw Funkadelic. Though her music comes to us through a time tunnel from an altogether different millennium, like George Clinton she frames physically persuasive, danceable music with complex, cerebral narrative.

Monae was radiant. She had an electric, formal stage presence — post-Victorian Gibson girl meets Grace Jones — with a dignity and drama worthy of her muse Fritz Lang. Above the stage, her image reproduced in black-and-white on two video screens had a grainy newsreel quality, as if we were in the future watching footage of the historic events of the present.

The acoustic space was filled to bursting by a sharp trio playing guitar, drums, and keyboard. The stage was haunted by costumed extras: wraiths, birds, buccaneers, fallout survivors, jet pilots, and queens. Crowded by these ghosts of her nightmarish imagination, Mon´e performed a fantastic set.

I have seen the future: it’s a strobe-lit, amplified, dangerous time… but very stylish.

After a steamy Janelle Monae left the stage, the Canopy Club was a hot and fetid tropical locker room. Few bands could have followed her into that sweatbox and pleased me.

Of Montreal gets credit for using some of the best performance ideas of David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, the Residents, Prince, and Pink Floyd (Alan Parker). While a surplus of eight musicians underlined the beat (or just waved their arms in the air), impressively costumed dancers elbowed their way to the edge of the stage. This unwieldy ensemble made even the generous Canopy stage seem unmanageably cramped, with randomly-attired stage hands (one in white t-shirt, one in shirt and tie) dashing back and forth to maneuver into place various large props.

Some of these apparitions that wandered in from stage right were majestic and terrifying, though the best costume designs of any concert I have seen had apparently been given no script other than contorting sexually with two blonde women in gold bikinis.

It’s good to see a young band try so hard to do something other than play great songs. I admire the effort to add a dimension of spectacle to alt-disco music. Frontman Kevin Barnes tried to push his magnetism, charisma, and beauty past its limits to lead the crowd into a rave atmosphere of unrestrained sexuality. But in the end this felt less liberating than shallow.

I applaud the effort to have a stage show, am impressed by the disturbingly surreal costumes, but found it all undermined by haphazard choreography and question whether the thin foundation of dance music can support the art they try to build on top of it.

Midway through the set was a moving performance of two newer songs, including “Casualty of You.” With a stripped-down instrumentation, disturbing animation, and a biting electric violin solo, this moving ten minutes of the show showed me what the band could accomplish if they did more serious writing.

And then for an encore they did the song about how the singer can “do it.” I clapped loud for another encore. From Janelle Monae.

Special guest Lu joins Cristy on Women Making Waves. These two derby girls join forces to hip check some rock by women in your face. Listen on it.

The Damagin' Dames and The Paign join forces on this show.

The Damagin’ Dames and The Paign join forces on this show.

Oh Captain my Captain!

30 August 2010: DJ Tony Money helps us tear the envelopes off a stack of new arrivals as we bring you the Rock Inbox: totally new music. Chaos, madness, ecstasy, and thirty fingers on the pulse of rock. Listen to what’s new, and which by now may be old, or, more likely, never caught on to become current.

6 September 2010: Honcho spins freestyle. Soul, soundtrack, and rare seven inch treasures from the archeology of music. Hear about his trip through the midwest and recent concerts. Listen to the raw expertise of this grizzled geek.

23 August 2010: Rick Halberg joins us to discuss the history of rock and roll music as viewed through the lens of songs about cars. In the words of the Dude, I fucking hate the Eagles man. But what Glen lacks, Ike Turner got. And what neither Frey nor Turner can provide, Freddie Mercury got covered. A splendid mix, deep and educational. Featuring Rock Geek News: hilarity ensues.

13 September 2010: Doug Hoepker joins us to play more than twenty power pop classics, launching his new online collaborative mix project Mixtured. 20 rock geeks each selected a song from the power pop idiom, and we manage to spin most of them. A massive collaboration.

Cristy’s pick for the mix and what she wrote about it:

Material Issue, “Renee Remains The Same”

I always think of power pop as a rock junkie’s amazing discovery. The bands seem to shine in eras in which they’re most unfashionable. The prog-drenched ’70s: Oh my gosh, there’s this band, Big Star, who sound like the Beatles! The synthy ’80s: Whoa, there’s this band, the dB’s, who sound like Big Star! The autotune-crazy ’00s: Sweet, there’s this band, Generationals, who sound like the dB’s!

In the early ’90s, it was Material Issue, who sounded like Cheap Trick. Most late Friday nights in junior high, I watched MTV, slogging through videos by Queensryche, Poison, and Cinderella. Cut to a black-and-white video featuring lanky clean-cut boys with a singer in a striped t-shirt who played a jangly guitar and sung with a (fake) English accent. I got the cassette as fast as I could, memorizing every two-minute song, every shout-along chorus about girls. Then a few years later, as it happens with these bands, Material Issue were gone. “But melodies, harmonies, and skinny ties never die. They’ll be back up when the pretty blue lights come on.

William’s pick for the mix and what he wrote about it:

“And Your Bird Can Sing,” The Jam

“Powerpop?” I asked, “what’s that?” He didn’t answer right away. Smoothing his moustache as he put the top down, tapped the cassette into the dash, and dropped the convertible into gear.  Easing out of the parking lot, slowing to admire the waitresses on roller skates, he checked his sunglasses in the rearview mirror, and said, “It all starts with the Beatles.” I sense we are in for a long ride.

One facet of the Beatles is a preverb of powerpop, except the Beatles escaped the curse of obscurity, that bad paradox by which songs crafted to be so commercially perfect, pleasing, single-sized, compressed, and seemingly radio-friendly are resigned to the box of shrugs, not played in the sports car but left in the garage to be rediscovered at the yard sale by people like us. So I choose this cover, one degree removed from the Fab Four. No disrespect intended. To me the song has the characteristics of my favorite gems of the genre: an overly melodic guitar line (more net than hook—I’m thinking “Shake Some Action,” “Baby Blue,” “Starry Eyes”), a certain bratty exuberance to the lyrics, and, of course, those loud lollipop vocals: if it’s worth singing, it’s worth harmonizing.