My brother is back in town visiting for a little while. So after work last night, I met up with him and our friend Shep to go see some band which he wanted to see. Shep has found himself scouting bands for potetial musical performances at an up and coming performance space in Bushwick, so he wanted to check out Stars Like Fleas at the Glass House Gallery.
Ok, this fellow has led me to some of the best live performances I've ever seen (introduced me to Gogol Bordello) and some of the worst, and music in galleries is always a questionable proposition. Art bands are easily one of the most annoying things on the planet and the most annoying of annoying art bands' natural habitat is Williamsburg so I agreed to go along for the ride, though not so much in hope that the music would be good but that hanging out with my bro, Shep, and the chick who was with him would likely be fun despite the potential for the music to be horrendous.
Well, the gallery wasn't your typical white box gallery. Down at the end of S 1st by the river and in a sort of basement junkyard, the Glass House was at least interesting. Junk acumulated and paint splattered and stuck to the walls and ceilings and piled in columns. Over crowded fire-trap, but something different and they had beer, so what the hey?
Well, Stars Like Fleas would have to wait, because we managed to get there super early and three noise bands were playing first. It is difficult to think of anything worse that noise bands. My friend Lauren once famously pissed off another friend of ours by declaring at a party that there is nothing worse than christian rock. He protested, and she countered with the challenge, "Fine, name one thing. One thing worse than christian rock." I suggested that praise music is worse, but they kind of go hand in hand (sappy repetitious lyrics, bad instrumentation, over-wrought faux emotion, bad hair), so I'll leave the umbrella designation of christian rock as the absolute zero of musical suckage though certainly some christian rock (old Amy Grant anyone?)is enjoyable in a way that noise bands just aren't. Noise bands suck.
Sitting there watching the guy 'drum' who was wearing a way, way too ripped shirt that just looked retarded and over-done, I tried to redeem this experience in my mind and will myself to somehow believe that this was an act of rebellion. My brain scoffed at such attempts and pointed out that if this was anything this was the opposite of punk. In the greater scheme of acts of rebellion, plunking on a drum while your friend turns knobs and creates feed back, really loudly and with feeling, man, is about as fucking punk as trying to go through the express line at the grocery store with 13 items. Way to fight the system, dude! You are loud! In a basement filled with junk! On a school night!
If they had been 5th graders on drugs and their parents had been tied in the corner, struggling and yelling obscenities, then maybe it would have been hard. As it was, trustpuppies in grunge costumes with serious looks on their faces showing how loud and outside of the box they can be is significantly less hardcore than the aformentioned Amy Grant. Hell, they're less hardcore than stephen curtis chapman.
Anyway, we had fortunately missed the first band, got stuck watching the second one and decided to go drink at a bar through the third and come back for the main act. Charlie had snuck out early to smoke and God laughed and punished him, so we walked out to find him smoking a cigarette talking to a Hasidic teenager who had stopped to bum a cigarette and tell him how much more kosher meat costs and Hasidic clothes cost and how much money orthodox jews make and how he only listens to rap music (I am making none of this up). His favorite singer is Eminem and he also likes Little Kim, but he doesn't think 50 cent is talented.
After he tried to bum a cigarette off Shep and I asked him if he had been they guy that threw the firebomb into the cop car during the recent Hasidic riots in Brooklyn, we took off to the Southside Lounge to down a couple of beers and shots and discuss color parties past and plans for the upcoming green boogie down. Four words: Ralph Nader Love Pit.
Refueled and ready for more indoor-underground junkyard jams, we wandered back over just in time to squeeze in and catch Stars Like Fleas. Theirs was nothing like the preceeding 'band' that had driven us to drink. Completely unplugged, all manner of instrumentation including a giant harp, and beautiful vocals. I'd go see them again, though perhaps not if I had to sit though more noise bands to do it. I'll have to check out their cd and see how they come across recorded. I do have to admit to warranting a stern, reproachful look from Shep when I found it nearly impossible to suppress laughter when their arch seriousness met with my goofy mood and surrounded by all this junk and the pretentious, suddenly hushed crowd, they began by playing the rim of a metal bowl. Nothing against the lovely hums that can be nudged out of bowl and glass rims by those so inclined to do so, but with how the night had gone and after all the dumb noise we had been subjected to so far and the absolute sincerety with which it was done, I found it singularly hysterical and nearly spit beer out my nose trying to supress my laughter.
All in all a good night, which was rounded out by the requisite Thursday night stop off at Fun to chat with the lovely and talented Marky and knock a few more beers back and laugh as my "even more beautiful brother" (as Stephin Merritt refers to him) got hit on by friends of mine who I hadn't had a chance yet to introduce him to. Anyway, I have a weekend to start and more trouble to seek out, so I'll end all this for now.