Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Rise and Fall of a Fine Evening

Last night I headed out to check out some art and then some music. A very cultural evening, all things considered. Especially since I spent the entirety of the time with one can or another of free beer resting on my gut. In fact, other than the cover at the Grog, I never had to pay for a single drink (so this is what it is like being a pretty girl!), so I went ahead and splurged on a jalapeno pizza around midnight when I returned home. This, as everyone else in the world would automatically realize, was a mistake, one I paid for by having a terrible night of sleep and that I am continuing to pay for now that I'm up and facing the day.

Anyway, it was a good evening all around, particularly because it was spent with good folks. Chatted for a long time with friends all over Waterloo and came away perhaps more optimistic than ever before about the direction that neighborhood is taking. Vision Gallery was having perhaps its best curated show since I've been around, it sounds like Arts Collinwood has a good show coming up soon and is going full blast at organizing the next Waterloo Arts Fest (which was one of my favorite events of 2008), and the folks at Shoparooni are really evolving into a great place to find cool new art. I'd been a little bummed when the clothing aspect of the store started to shrink (especially the lack of men's hats), but if they are going to replace it with the kind of art that they are bringing in and look to continue bringing in at the ridiculously awesome prices they are selling it at, I'm cool with the evolution. By the time I hit my last stop on the block, Music Saves, I was so full of good cheer and free beer that I totally forgot the purpose of my stop. Instead, I regaled (or irritated or bored) Kevin and Melanie with a never-ending second-hand tale of indie rock romantic intrigue, learned about a great new Six Degrees game (new to me, anyway), and walked out without buying the School of Seven Bells album. (By the way, am I the last to learn that this band was formed by the dude that left Secret Machines? And did you know that they replaced him with Phillip Karnats, who used to play with the Polyphonic Spree, which formed from the wreckage of the Tripping Daisy collapse, which also led to the birth of the Secret Machines in the first place? Karnats also played on the awesome Tripping Daisy album, Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb and his solo record, Pleasesuite, isn't too shabby, either. Some crazy, though productive, band swapping going on in Dallas. There is definitely more than big hair in Big D.)

After the Collinwood excursion, I headed over to the Grog Shop, a bit fashionably late for an arranged meet-up at La Cave du Vin. Instead, I went straight to the venue, straight to the bar, and was about to order and pay for my first legitimately purchased beverage of the night when ... my pal Bridget materialized next to me and bought it for me. Score. Hung with Bridget and listened to the second half of the Jessica Lea Mayfield set, which was pretty darn stellar. I've heard her twice, I think, playing with her brother and alone at the Happy Dog, but this was the first time I've seen her amped up with a full band and I totally dig it. Brings a fullness to her songs that I had previously never noticed as missing. After the set ended, we met up with some local blogger aristocrats like Kelly and Jose, Roger, and Jason. Hands were shook (or shaken? or shaked? One of them, anyway), glasses were clinked (or whatever the sound of aluminum on cheap plastic makes), and introductions made. All was right in the world ...

... until ...

... Annuals started playing.

I've been listening to their cd and another EP a lot lately. A lot. I'd picked up the EP when they were in town opening for another band, but never ended up going to the show. I kinda liked the little bit I'd heard, though, at least enough not to try and foist it off on someone else. When I heard they were coming through town again and playing with Miss Mayfield, I put it on my calendar, picked up their recent full-length, and tried to become a fan. I never was quite able to do that, but I was still somewhere between ambivalent and hopeful that the live show would convert me.

Boy did that not happen. Jose and I agreed that it was painful to watch the lead singer sing, with his ridiculous facial expressions and a mouth that opens cartoonishly wide when he sings. Bad cartoonishly. Like the kind of cartoon that'd get you a D- in an intro animation class at art school. The multi drummer thing was cool, except for the fact that there were more horrible skinny leg jeans onstage then I'd ever seen in my life and the guitarist next to the singer was either dancing or having a 60 minute seizure. Anyway, the worst part was it was all so contrived, like young kids deciding this was how they wanted to look, like before the show they all practiced their "looks" and "moves" in the mirror, and no adults or reasonable friends were around to offer the kind of tough love to say, "Dude, don't do that. It looks ridiculous."

Anyway, I think folks in my group left after the first song, then some more after the third, and then finally I left after probably the 4th.

I walked friend Bridget to her car, where she gave me a cd that she promised I'd love despite the fact that it was an offshoot in some way of Rilo Kiley. (Note it is my bias, not hers, against The Rilo Kileys that makes me skeptical of this claim). Later today I'll probably listen to it. I mean, why not. It is a win-win either way. If she's right, I like it and I win by having a new band to check out. If she's wrong, as I expect her to be in this case, I don't like it but I still win by being able to say "I told you so" AND having something to hang over her head. For the first time in a long time, I'm excited about working all day with music in the background!


Bridget Callahan said...

It's the fact that you call them The Rilo Kileys that makes me think you don't know what you're talking about. Besides, I only really loved the 2nd Rilo Kiley album, which is a VERY important difference. I hated the last one, it was filth. And Blake Sennett, who's band you are probably listening to right now, is definitely the brains behind that band. Also he dated Winona Ryder AND dumped her. Which some way.

You have revealed your hand, I now know I can get you to do anything just by appealing to your competitive spirit.

Kelly and José said...

Haha, I totally laughed out loud seeing "Rilo Kileys" typed out :) But, I figure that Justin was just trying to be funny or clever. . .hmm

Bridget -- Have you ever listened to Rilo Kiley's Initial Friend EP?? It is my absolute favorite*

Here is a sampling:
[Mp3] Rilo Kiley - Always
[Mp3] Rilo Kiley - Frug


ps - Had a great time with you guys last night!

CB said...

Yeah, that's an old joke from when I was in college. My buddies and I all worked at the same liquor store and our manager, who was then probably in his mid-50s, would refer to the bands we listened to with "The" in front of the name all the time. The best one was The Tools, because my friend Tim loved Tool. Others included The Failures (for Failure) and The Phish (duh). You get it. Anyway, I still will occasionally bust out the old joke here and there, but now it just makes me look dumb.

I do like the dating/dumping Winona Ryder thing.

Bridget Callahan said...


Yeah, I like that one and I like TakeOffs and Landings, but I think Execution of All Things is one of those albums that just transcends a band's history and future. Seriously J., I don't know how you can be immune to that album. Even the boys I've known who ONLY listen to The Tools love that album. There something so dark and fatalistic about it.

CB said...

Fine, Bridget. I'll give it a chance. But don't even think about burning me the Greatest His of Rilo and the Kileys.