Posts filed under ‘events’

Boozin’ in the Hudson

rock out with your torch out, in tha Hudson

rock out with your torch out, in tha Hudson

So as my Graduation weekend wrapped up to a close, I found myself stuck in traffic outside the Lincoln Tunnel to New York City. This is especially torturous because we all know that by the time you get to Lincoln Tunnel, you already have ants in your pants to just be in NYC already, but this time was worse than others, for I was going to ride a boat around the Hudson. A booze cruise, if you will. Not just an ordinary one, but one in which my new favorite band Passion Pit would be playing.

were sad cause were missing our legs

we're sad cause we're missing our legs

Passion Pit has a chronic toxicity to their music. The kind you find yourself listening to over and over again because its Spring, getting to be summer, and everyone is losing their heads and their pants with excitement for a multitude of reasons. Whether its continuing being an undergrad with ill intentions of drinking away your summer, a graduate like myself who has a degree that says I know what I’m doing when I have no clue at all, or just someone who knows summer in Philadelphia is a hell of a lot more fun than the winter. Anyway, I’m at an exciting point in my life, and this music echoes that excitement for me. Chunk of Change, their LP, has been on repeat in my apartment since the end of April. The story behind the LP is that the singer/keyboardist Michael Angelakos originally recorded a set of songs for his then girlfriend. I wish someone made this album for me. Lucky lady.

The boat was rockin’ and rollin’ to some of their new songs off their soon to be released record, Manners. The first single, The Reeling, was recently thrown up onto YouTube, with a great collage style and rapid cuts that mimics the quick beats and rapis synthisizing of this band. Obviously, I’m friggin’ crazy about this band. Also, the guys who made the video seemed to be a pretty awesome group of dancers on the front of the boat.

So if you read this, a year from now, you can say you were listening to them before they were huge. They are also starting a long, long tour, you can check for dates here. A little bird told me theres an August date for Philadelphia.

-posted by samsquared

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May 20, 2009 at 10:47 PM Leave a comment

The things I chose to keep to myself

– posted by russellmania3000

To the best of my knowledge, I had thought Sam was either in France or dead of bowel cancer, and for my intents and purposes, there isn’t a big distinction between either scenario. But she’s back States-side and if I know her at all she’ll be riding the I-hate-it-here wambulance for a spell, so I guess we’ll see if any further contributions from her are forthcoming. I’ve been terrible busy and working on and off on a long-form piece on Jim Henson, but this is more temporally pertinent, and if I were to go another week without writing anything, I may as well give Redikulus up for keeps.

Until earlier in March, I hadn’t gone to see anything on First Friday in several months; all too often I’m too late getting there or too disillusioned from the last time I went so I skip the galleries and go straight to the bar. This month, I avoided Old City altogether and opted for a few spots I’d never visited, which didn’t really help with the disillusionment but at least it wasn’t ass-to-ankles crowded.

First stop: Juanita & Juan’s for the launch of Megawords issue 10. In case visitors didn’t want to physically handle a zine, a copy had been unbound and the pages had been tacked to the wall, which really deprives you of the experience of paging through 112 pages of in crowd ego stroking that “reflects upon the exhibition’s thirty-one days as a physical outlet for creativity in a melange of color and black and white photographs, reproductions of storefront plans and proposals, and written reflections about the project.” In other words, a scenester scrap book, in effect a publication whose subject is itself. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that this was perhaps not their strongest issue.

Second stop: Vox Populi had a exhibition called Bivouac which included: creepy drawings of Snow White; photos of constructivist/readymade-ish sculptures; film of guy telling molestation story while molesting wad of clay; film of naked Juggernauts; film of hands paging through book. There was also a performance/installation piece called Rented Time, consisting of: balloons; giant cigarette carton spinning on wall; guy in Halloween costume making funny noises, breaking in and out of character. Also three really scrawny guys talking about their weightlifting routines in the corner. Next please.

Third stop: Tiger Strike Asteroid. No link for this place, not a huge surprise, because the name should be a dead giveaway that it was just some art students’ loft. In one room they had hung what looked to be someone’s projects from a freshman year design curriculum, over-performing homework assignments but under-performing pieces of art.

Fourth stop: Toy Factory. Again no link, but again this was just another loft apartment with a name, and in some extra space adjacent the kitchen were a couple found object sculptures and some pseudo-Giger-ish drawings with Game Boys, Transformers and a smattering of other pop culture ironies-du-jour. The antique movie camera converted into a music box was a hugely redeeming factor to an otherwise lackluster display.

I should also mention something about the ambiance of these last two places. As if going into smaller spaces doesn’t already sometimes feel like you’re intruding on a private engagement, entering these last two spots, glorified residences as they were, definitely felt like I inadvertently stumbled into the wrong room. Tiger Strike Asteroid was confined and crowded and full of chatter, the place was pretty sparse, most signs of inhabitation had been tidied away, and there were definitely, like, senior citizens there, presumably done with Vox Populi and just poking around, so that wasn’t so jarring. But Toy Factory was far more awkward in that the place was larger, emptier (of people) and had all the trappings of a very cozy, comfy home. Lived in, is the phrase. A small crowd was to one side and speaking quietly amongst themselves if at all, lounging about rather than huddling together like you do when in unfamiliar territory, and one guy was in an adjacent living room watching a skateboard video like it was Tuesday. And there was a blind dog with cataracts the size of dinner plates. It felt too personal for comfort.

Contemporary art, like much of all art, is self-indulgent to an extent, but usually it comes off as an adverb, as in “this piece self-indulgently but successfully renders so and so” or “this guy paints really well, albeit a little self-indulgently.” But this month more than any other I can remember, the work I saw seemed to embrace self-indulgence in a new and profound way, as sort of the object noun/central thesis/raison d’etre. You know violence for violence’s sake or sex for sex’s sake? Well…yeah. How exquisitely postmodern. More on this to come.

Bonus round: Khmer Art Gallery. You know how in like every kung fu movie there’s some smarmy Brit who’s stealing truckloads of Chinese artifacts and selling them to “the institute” for major ducket? This place is like that dude’s hideout, only substitute Chinese for Cambodian and smarmy Brit for portly, middle-aged hippy lady. I mean, their collection is so extensive it feels pillaged.

Bonus round 2: More recently I popped over to the PMA, because, you know, what the hell, can’t be worse than First Friday. They have an exhibition on called Cézanne and Beyond which is quite possibly worth the $24. Among others, there’s some lesser-known works by Picasso, Matisse, Jasper Johns, Max Beckmann, Giacometti, Gorky, Braque and Mondrian, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. There was also some Japanese photography and a small Gehry exhibition, which is neat if you’re into Gehry.

March 18, 2009 at 12:01 AM Leave a comment

One City to Check Out One Night

sure, it looks nice from over here and with a nice filter...   © Flickr user nicoatridge

sure, it looks nice from over here and with a nice filter... © Flickr user nicoatridge

If you’re like me, you probably have no reason to go to Newark most of the time. Unless it’s to pick up some German friend of yours from the airport, or because your friend from Jerz swears they have a good reason to go. There is a good reason to go next week, March 6th 2009, and I want all of you to go because I unfortunately cannot. It’s sure to be an impressive show, I give you:

holy crap that's a lot of people!

holy crap that's a lot of people!

One-hundred artists? That’s amazing. One-hundred artists who are all alive and producing art? Even more amazing. Collective shows are always interesting in the way that the pieces inevitably show some sort of relation from one artist’s work to the others. It’s that idea that if you spend enough time with other people you start to pick up on  their mannerisms, and in this case, artistic preferences. I don’t know how many of these people know each other, and the reality is that most of these people probably don’t know each other, but that makes it more intriguing to me. The scope of this show is going to stretch a wide variety of mediums and topics. This is held at a place called Jajo Gallery, and it looks like they have a fairly good time here judging by the party pictures.

I found out about this show because my best friend, Emily Kane, has been working a full-time job during the day, and dedicatedly working on new works for the show at night.

this is her day job with Jeni, Fritillaria Earring © De Mi A Ti

this is her day job with Jeni, Fritillaria Earring © De Mi A Ti

The most impressive artists to me are those who are severly dedicated. I’ve never questioned her dedication, even if she could talk her way into good math grades in art school. I am definitely disappointed I will be missing this show, not just for the 99 other artists who will be there, but to miss a good friend’s first show. You will definitely see more coming from her in the future, but here’s and example of her work:

holy crap, that's a big drawing! © Emily Kane

holy crap, that's a big drawing! © Emily Kane

Another friend of mine will be showing his work at the show too, but he’s a great deal more secretive about his process and what he’s working on. Pillis has been up to some really spectacular video and animation lately, and I would hope he is going to share some of that at this show. You can check out some of his past work at his blog.

February 23, 2009 at 4:15 PM 1 comment

It’s bigger than hip-hop

– posted by russellmania3000

Damn, son. Fuck coffee, I’m awake now, ready to go 12 rounds. My employer is a professional sports franchise that will go unnamed, whose mascot is an outsized mutant rabbit named Hip-Hop and he has a supremely gay theme song. I’ve been trying to get it changed to Dead Prez for a while, but to no avail. Something about being family-friendly or whatever, I hear them talk about kids and I tune out. By the way, in our office we can use “gay” as an epithet as much as we like without being sent to sensitivity training or whatever. So if that’s your beef, I really don’t want to hear it.

I work in interactive marketing so I check out the Google competition for anything I’m involved in, just for kicks. I checked for Redikulus a while back and there used to be a lot more that has since dropped off the face of the nets. There was a pretty cool clothing company that I can find neither hide nor hair of anymore. But there are two interesting things of note.

this image's file name is Blexican.jpg. Really.

The first result, regrettably, is for a misspelling of Ridikulus, a Harry Potter spell. Christ, we are in poor company. But more importantly, as luck would have it, there’s a rapper who goes by same, and why shouldn’t there be? We really asked for it when we chose this spelling. Listen Mr. I Started Rapping At 6, I don’t care if your pops is in jail or what part of Las Vegas you’re from. I watched CSI and it seems like a goofy as all hell kind of place. If you so much as even think about purchasing redikulus.com, you will be in for a world of hurt, mon ami. No wait. What I meant was: perhaps we can come up with a business arrangement that will benefit both of us…

Dag, yo! Hodag!

The other and infinitely more compelling item of interest with which we share a name is Redikulus Dae, an annual street fair/shopping festival in Rhinelander, WI. Sweet crackers, there’s even a second annual Hodag Roaring Contest. I am so there. Back up a minute. Hodag, you say? Yes. Think of it as a Midwestern chupacabra. There’s not enough drugs in this city for me to make up shit like this. American folklore is truly fascinating and batshit crazy.

Anyway…as you were.

February 8, 2009 at 10:50 PM Leave a comment

Clap your hands say meh

Earlier this month I dropped my remaining vacation days a 5-day jaunt in Brooklyn during which I attended the Blip Festival, an event whose praises I cannot sing loud or long enough. But as my hearing returned to full capacity, so did my sense of reality and perspective over what had just taken place.

I’ve listened to electronic music nearly all my life and grew up on Nintendo. The mental library of earthly sounds I’ve accumulated over the years contains it’s fair share of lo-fi bloops, bleeps, snaps and peeps. Nonetheless, this was essentially my first experience with the artists and music that define what some would call the chip music or chiptunes scene, a music genre that seems to define itself more by hardware and production aesthetic than by the nature of the music. That is to say that over the course of the festival we were treated to a variety music – pop, rock, hip-hop, reggae, house, ebm/futurepop, idm, breakcore, industrial and every grey area in between – that was apparently all under the umbrella of chiptune.

bloop bloop bleep bleep

That’s Glomag, and yes, that is indeed a Nintendo Game Boy in his hands. The original big honking Game Boy at that, and it’s fitted with one of those screen-brightening and -enlarging doodads. Chip music essentially involves repurposing archaic computer hardware into instruments. Most commonly, this means game consoles, and this in turn most commonly means the Nintendo Game Boy. Of the 40-some-odd artists at Blip, I’d estimate about 95% of them used the Game Boy in some form, and about 75% used it as the sole instrument in their ensemble. A lot of these guys had pretty tricked out Game Boys, like two-tone cases with custom-installed back-lit screens. Once in a while you’d see someone using a Game Boy SP or PSP and you knew they were totally style-fakers. In any event, though photos of the previous two festivals led me to believe we’d see some, there was no truly inventive use of hardware a la James Houston‘s Big Ideas:

In days of yore, electronic musicians often used keyboards, live drums and/or guitars, turntables, theramins, effects pedals, and a bevy of other instruments that involve some sort of physical exertion and performance in their live acts. Those days are largely gone; today, most electronic shows involve some laptop button-pushing, knob-tweaking, fader-flicking and not much more.

So creep with me, if you will, and imagine standing in a crowd of unkempt 20-somethings staring at another unkempt 20-something on stage, garishly dressed, hunched over with Game Boy in hand, queuing tracks and adjusting parameters, intermittently taking a break to fist-pump, thrash about, or gesture awkwardly in some other manner to express his excitement and passion for the music he’s not quite actually playing. It is a very arresting experience to say the least.

I have a back-up NES so I can spike one when I lose.

Believe it or not, there was some dancing, some awkward spastic nerd dancing. And if the music is good and the crowd is good and the dancing is good, then, performance be damned, it’s still a good time. But as you might imagine there was a large contingent just sort of standing there, barely nodding their heads like you do when you don’t want to seem not into the show. What up with that? What were these guys doing at the bloop bleep show? I mean, they’re not partying, not drinking, not molesting women and surely not appreciating the skill of the performance. I’m sure some might take exception, but as a former DJ and musician, a player of video games and a one-time-owner of a Game Boy, I can proclaim with confidence that it’s not that difficult to do and not at all impressive to behold.

What ever happened to showmanship? Say what you will about misogynistic epic metal, but Manowar knew how to put on a fucking show. Guitars would be played in every position imaginable: over the head, behind the back, between the legs, shared betwixt two people. I saw their bassist solo for like 10 goddamn minutes and then proceed to break those absurdly thick strings with his bare hands, one by one. Even if you weren’t that into the music or interested in slamming your fragile body into a crowd of strangers, you still had to be impressed with Manowar. Virtuosity, showmanship, leather codpieces. There is no substitute:

Showmanship is not to be confused with spectacle. One of the better acts at Blip, a duo from Barcelona called Meneo, was sheer spectacle. Don’t misunderstand, they were awesome and everyone had a blast, but their set was all about on-stage antics that involved wrestling, nudity, toilet paper and hiding microphones in various locations inside pants. The guy on the Game Boy came up to me, snatched the ear plugs from my ears and ate them. They didn’t bring that keytar, just leggings and unrestrained Dadaist energy. But for the people in the audience who weren’t that into the music, weren’t dancing and weren’t drinking, they had to have been outrageously uncomfortable during that set.

The other component to Blip, and to most live music of any genre these days, is the visual display that accompanies the performance. It was in this aspect that Blip seemed really appealing when I first heard of it but also fell the most flat in actuality. Last year, the fest had several projection screens and this video screen with ridiculously oversized pixels which produced a look that was really complimentary to the music. Geneva’s Mapping Festival uses all kinds of inventive displays each year – note the translucent curtains for floating projections. The Copenhagen Mikrodisko takes an even more lo-fi approach that still has a wonderful aesthetic. So you can imagine my disappointment when this year’s Blip had a single projection screen behind the stage and nothing more. Granted, the set-up is only as good as the VJs and animators who show their work. Some of the musicians, namely Meneo, Anamanaguchi, and m-.-n did their own visuals or had animators do stuff just for them, which were usually pretty good, and a couple of the guys in the small line-up of VJs that worked with the rest of the acts were okay, but a lot of the time the screen just looked like it was displaying a broken VCR.

Until now, I didn’t realize this was, you know, a thing, chip music, as in deserving of its own scene and word and all. As far as I know, lo-fi electronic video game-ish sounds have been used in music for quite a while but perhaps more sparingly than in this case. This album got a lot of good press when it dropped almost two years ago, but think about how superfluous it is to have bloop-bleep computer music covered by musicians using even more bloopy-bleepy computers. Don’t get me wrong, I heart Kraftwerk. And I like these 8 bit guys. They put on a decent show. I would just maybe take issue with the claim, as they make in 2 Player Productions’ chiptune documentary Reformat The Planet, which was screened at Blip and apparently got a nod at SXSW, that they’re doing something entirely new and revolutionary when what they’re really up to is more or less bizarre bordering on Luddite. This is more a critique of the film and not the musicians, but it seems as if the filmmakers focused on the contemporary NYC scene not because they’re trying to illustrate via microcosm but simply because that’s where they are and that’s who their friends are so that’s who they have access to. They treat Blip as just that – an isolated event – and don’t really touch on the international scene or put chiptunes in the context of the history of electronic music. I would take up that crusade but that’s not really my job or the point of Redikulus. My job is just to draw attention to silly shit, and I believe my work here is done.

– posted by RussellMania3000

December 31, 2008 at 5:34 PM 2 comments


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